Picton Castle is a most unusual ancient building being in design half fortified manor house and half fully developed medieval castle.
From the outside with its four symmetrically spaced half round towers and gatehouse entrance flanked by two narrower towers it looks like a miniature version of a great Edwardian Castle such as Conwy in North Wales. However as soon as one enters inside it is revealed not to have an inner courtyard and keep but rather a series of finely planned rooms typical of the grand country house that it is. There is no other building quite like it in Britain.
Since the 13th century Picton has been in the hands of the Wogans, Baron of Wiston and it was Sir John Wogan Justiciar of Ireland circa 1295 – 1313 who is believed to have built the present castle.
The Philipps’s who are direct descendents of Sir John Wogan have held Picton since the days of Sir Thomas Philipps. In 1611 James I wanted to raise money to meet the cost of keeping his army in Ireland and he hit upon the idea of selling baronetcies. Sir John Philipps bought one at the cost of £1,095.
Throughout the 17th and 18th Century the Philipps’s of Picton Castle were the most powerful family in Pembrokeshire exercising both tremendous political, social and economic influence over all aspects of local life. They had vast estates were prominent philanthropists (being particularly supportive of the charity school movement). Patrons of the arts for generations supplied Pembrokeshire with Sherriffs, Justices of the Peace, Lord Lieutenants and MP’s.
Sir Thomas Picton
Haverfordwest has two fine historical bridges spanning the River Cleddau – The Old Bridge was gifted, in 1726 by Sir John Philipps of Picton Castle. The Old Bridge was constructed over the ford of Haverfordwest that Henry Tudor crossed, with his army, after landing at Dale in August 1485. The bridge which is Grade II Listed for its exceptional architectural interest, has a fine plaque sited half-way across the bridge which states “This bridge was erected at the sole expence of Sir John Phillips of Picton Castle Bart Anno 1726” etc. This plaque was recently restored by the Sir John Perrotts Trust with support from the Picton Castle Trust.
In a deed dated the 20th September 1580 (which was rediscovered in the offices of R K Lucas & Son in the early 1960’s and presented to the Borough Council) Sir John Perrot left land and property in trust for the improvement of the Town of Haverfordwest. Over many years the Trust has contributed significant sums to improve and repair the fabric of the Town. Many such responsibilities are now undertaken by the Local Authority and as a result the Trustees – with the approval of the Charity Commission – maintain their own historic portfolio of properties, and contribute towards projects of architectural significance.
If you wish to know more about the history of Picton Castle and Gardens and the families of Picton, there are two books available:
- The Families of Picton by Hero von Friesen and Tomas Lloyd OBE DL
- Picton Castle and Woodland Gardens – The Guide Book
THE MUSEUM OF THE HOME COLLECTION
When Pembroke’s small but unique Museum of the Home closed its doors to the public, it’s entire collection was re-housed at Picton. This fascinating collection can be seen in the old Butler’s Pantry area and can be seen by visitors when joining a guided tour of the Castle.