Picton Castle and Gardens

The Castle

Picton Castle is a unique ancient building. Nearly 700 years old, it is a medieval castle that was transformed internally into a sumptuous Georgian home in the mid 18th century. Picton is a stately home on a human scale. During a visit you can explore the principal state rooms, the kitchens and medieval under croft with its fabulous vaulted ceiling at your leisure.

From the outside with its formidable towers, arrow slits and domineering presence the gentility of within is deceptive. The original collection of art and antiques collected by the family over hundreds of years is still here for the public to enjoy.

There is simply no other house quite like it in Britain.

Brief History

Picton Castle was constructed in 1280 at the behest of Sir John de Wogan who was Justiciary of Ireland circa 1295 – 1313. It was the centre of his estates. The castle and lands went by inheritance to the Dwnn family and the estate devolved upon one Joan Dwnn “The Golden Daughter” in the 1460s. In 1491 Joan married Sir Thomas Philipps of Cilsant in Carmarthenshire. Thus since the 1490s Picton has been the centre of the Philipps family’s estates.

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). They were also patrons of the arts and for generations supplied Pembrokeshire with Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Lord Lieutenants and MP’s.

The castle remained the Philipps family home until the end of the 20th century. In 1987 the last Philipps’s members of the family to live here, created the Picton Castle Trust (Registered Charity No. 519693), gifting the castle, its collection and its gardens to the benefit of the people of Wales. In the last 40 years the Picton Castle Trust has been charged with preserving and restoring this important part of Welsh heritage and ensuring it remains open and accessible to the public.

The Picton ‘Renoir’ 

Hanging unobtrusively in the Great Hall is a painting sketch reputedly by the acclaimed impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The painting was bought for the Picton collection in the 1930s but has been plagued with questions about it provenance: is it a genuine or not? Leading art historians on BBC’s ‘Fake or Fortune’ team set about gaining some hard evidence, in July 2015. The programme, received a record 5.9 million viewers and unprecedented social media response to the final verdict.

The painting underwent extensive forensic analysis to determine its authenticity. The physical evidence is good. However, the two leading art houses on impressionist art the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery and the Wildenstein Institute could not agree. The Wildenstein Institute rejected the painting due to gaps in the paperwork, partly caused by the destruction in WWII. Only the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery has included this work and attributed it to Renoir in its listings.

So the mystery of the ‘Picton Renior’ continues.