Powerscourt Estate History

Powerscourt Estate. Photo copyright CC3 - Amanda Susan Munroe CC3

Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland, is a large country estate.

Powerscourt Estate. Photo copyright CC3 - Amanda Susan Munroe CC3

On the site of Powerscourt, there was originally a 13th-century medieval castle built by the La Poer family (the name anglicised to Power). The castle’s position was defensive as access to the nearby Dargle, Glencree and Glencullen rivers could all be controlled.

In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I presented Richard Wingfield with Powerscourt Castle and its estate for his military success. His descendants remained at Powerscourt for over 350 years.

In 1730, the house was altered to three storeys (originally two storeys) with 68 rooms. The entrance hall was 18 metres long and 12 metres wide. Leading up to the house was a mile long road flanked by beech trees on either side. The facade of the house became ‘fairy-tale’ like, with a palladian centre (inspired by the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio) bookended by two circular domed towers.

Mervyn Wingfield – inherits Powerscourt aged 8

In 1844, Mervyn Wingfield became the 7th Viscount and inherited the Powerscourt estate when he was just 8 years old. Aged 21, he began extensive renovation of the house and created the new gardens, which include the Japanese gardens and the walled gardens.

The Pepperpot Tower in the grounds is based on a 3″ pepperpot belonging to Lady Wingfield. There is also a ‘pet cemetery’. The gardens took 20 years to complete.

Powerscourt bought by the Slazenger family

The present owners the Slazenger family bought the estate in 1961. Wendy Slazenger married the 10th Viscount, Mervyn Niall Wingfield, in 1962, so the Wingfield family still have strong connections with Powerscourt.

Fire destroyed the house in 1974 and it was left as a shell until, in 1996, renovation began.

Powerscourt today

It is a popular tourist attraction, with a golf course, an Avoca Handweavers restaurant, and a Ritz-Carlton hotel. There are retail units for Irish gifts. There is also Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood with historic dolls and toys on the upper floor of the house.

Only two rooms are open to the public as they once appeared while Powerscourt had residents.

Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Ireland at 121 metres. Around the waterfall is a deer park with Japanese Sika deer. The waterfall is seven kilometres from Enniskerry along a narrow road.