Powderham Castle, Exeter

Powderham Castle is set in rolling hills eight miles south of Exeter, overlooking the Exe estuary. During the winter, the 3,500-acre estate with its 30-bedroom mansion focuses on fieldsports. Powderham Castle‘s highly regarded pheasant- and partridge-shoot was listed in The Field’s top shoots in the country last year. The let days are hosted by the Earl and Countess of Devon, with most taken by regular returning teams.

“Days are occasionally available,” says the Earl, “but you will need to book a season in advance.”

The gamekeeper, Dick Durrant, has been with the Powderham Castle shoot for the past 20 years and is ably supported by experienced underkeeper Will Pratt. Typically, there are six drives, four in the morning and two after lunch.

So do Powderham Castle shoot days always go to plan? “We have an interesting array of guests, from dukes and marquises to bankers and financiers. I am not sure if teams are selected for their ability to shoot straight or the loveliness of their mistresses,” quips the Earl. “A few seasons back one gun gave us a scare – he disappeared with his girlfriend for two drives. We were about to send out a search party when he nonchalantly reappeared in time for elevenses.”

After shooting, a formal dinner hosted by the Earl and Countess is served in the Powderham Castle‘s Great Hall. The medieval-style, linenfold-panelled room boasts a historic collection of chairs, including one on which King William III sat for his first Council of State after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

“Having guns stay in the castle is not just a way of helping the shoot to pay for itself, we both like entertaining here,” adds the Earl. “The opulent accommodation is very much en famille. Most rooms have en-suite bathrooms but some share facilities, so do not forget your dressing gown!”

Pheasant-shooting costs £37.50 per bird + VAT.

A team of eight guns can stay at the castle at a cost of £220 per person per night + VAT, full board. For more information, call the estate office on 01626 890252 or visit Powderham Castle.

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