Mary Berry visits Powderham Castle in Devon. She whips up some classics from the region, including Devon cream tea, curried cockles and a delicate peach posset.
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Britain is world-famous for its stately homes.
And when it comes to food,
our country houses were the taste-makers.
Curry and cockle, it's an absolute first for me.
In this series, we'll sample delicious dishes.
They look wonderful, Mary.
And enjoy the lavish hospitality
that these homes were celebrated for.
You look absolutely stunning.
I'll show you how to cook
tasty, modern recipes inspired by the history of our great houses.
This is actually Napoleon's chair from Waterloo.
Mind you, I could do with a cushion.
Join me as I meet the families who own these exceptional homes.
The best thing about the staircase, obviously,
-is going down on a tray or on your bottom.
And find out what it's really like to live...
It looks quite saucy.
It's very like cutting a hedge.
I think you're better at baking!
..and party in the nation's most beautiful stately homes.
I'm not going to drop it!
This week, I'm meeting the young family
breathing new life into Powderham Castle.
-Do you like it, Jackie?
-I love it.
And I'll join them at a magical woodland party to thank
everyone who's helped them settle in.
It's been quite a journey. Fairy tales happen.
This is your invitation to dine at some of Britain's grandest tables,
in some of the most beautiful houses in the land.
I'm in Devon, just south of Exeter,
crossing the great estuary of the River Exe.
I just love Devon, even on a blustery and rather misty day.
The smell of the sea is all very tempting.
And waiting to meet me is the Earl of Devon himself,
-Oh, it's lovely to be back in Devon.
-Thank you for coming in this lovely weather.
-Oh, who cares!
Charlie's family has been connected to this estuary for over 600 years.
You know, the estuary is such a remarkably vibrant place.
I think in medieval times, it was something like England's
-second or third biggest port.
And, so, we were a French family
and all the trading from Exeter would have gone out
to the south of France, to Bordeaux, around there.
And they would have brought wine back, and wool out,
so it was very much a trading estuary.
TRAIN HORN BLOWS
I'm on my way to the house that's been
the Courtenay family home since 1391,
There it is in all its glory, Powderham.
-So, there's Powderham Castle.
-Yes, that's my flag,
the Earl of Devon's flag.
I think I'm the 28th generation of the family to move my kids in,
which is rather nice.
I feel as though there ought to have been a drawbridge.
I know. Well, we've stood down the knights from the top!
Charlie inherited Powderham
two years ago on the death of his father.
Before then, he, his wife and their two young children
had been living in America for 11 years.
-Let's get in, out of the rain.
-And you can tell me more.
And, now, as Earl of Devon,
he's become the custodian of one of the oldest aristocratic titles
-in the country...
-Welcome to Powderham.
..and a sprawling castle which has evolved over six centuries.
Mary, this is the big dining room.
Which, for all its appearances,
is actually the most modern room in the house.
It was built by the Victorians,
effectively to provide a really nice functional space
to have big dinner parties in.
It's one that we use a lot as a family for Christmas dinners,
I can just imagine this room as it is with a roaring fire.
Oh! We've been out in all that cold.
I know, it's a good place to warm up after a morning outside.
And, even though it's the most modern room in the house,
it tells a very old story because it has throughout the coats of arms
on the walls, the family tree, effectively,
dating back to Athon in the far corner who was a French knight who
fortified a town called Courtenay in France in about 1000 AD.
So, he was the original Courtenay.
And you see the story of the family line ever since
up to William, who built the room in 1830.
The Courtenay family have an impressive lineage.
But now I want to meet the next generation.
Come on through and meet the family.
Mary, this is my wife, AJ.
-It's really nice to meet you.
-And this is Jocelyn.
-I love the hat.
-And Jack, my son.
So, this is actually where you live, sort of,
-within the castle.
-It feels very cosy here.
-Oh, it is cosy, yes,
-it's actually nice and warm.
-And I recognise an American accent,
-is that right?
-Yeah. AJ and I met in a bar in Las Vegas.
I was on a rugby tour, AJ was on a hen weekend.
And the rest is Jocelyn and Jack.
Ah, lovely. And how is England for you?
The main problem is the weather.
We're used to warm, scorching.
And when we come here, we're just like...
Ah, but you've got the beauty of Devon.
-I most likely will need a bit of help later
making a Devon cream tea.
Can I rely on you two?
I don't know how to make one.
-You know how to eat it.
-Cream first, then jam.
Right. We'll have it that way.
But now I want to see the rest of the house, come on.
Yes, let's go through this door and explore the house.
Powderham began as a medieval castle,
but it was in the 18th century that the modern house took shape.
From the magnificent music room for grand entertaining...
..to the elegant libraries...
..this was a home designed to impress.
And here's the staircase hall.
What an extraordinary, glorious colour.
Yeah, it's Powderham blue, it's a very unique colour.
I interestingly had a call from a French count a couple of months ago
asking to reproduce it in his French castle.
So, it's the Powderham blue, and people obviously seem to like it.
What striking plasterwork.
It was done by a couple of local Exeter craftsmen.
But what you notice, in the top corners, there's a different animal.
There's a squirrel here, there's something like a stoat there.
And a hare with great, long ears.
And birds, lots of birds.
It's depicting the countryside.
Absolutely. And it depicts the pursuits of the people
that lived in the castle when it was built.
So, 1750, you could see the musical instruments they were playing.
A violin or something.
It almost looks like cake icing, doesn't it?
It does. Very beautifully done, too.
All that is missing is a lady coming down in a marvellous dress
billowing out. Imagine all the men standing here with their drinks,
watching them all coming downstairs.
The best thing about the staircase, obviously,
is going down on a tray or on your bottom.
When I was a child, we didn't have carpets on the stairs,
and it was just a plain, wooden staircase.
And you'd get really good speed going up and down the stairs.
Yes, cos you couldn't slide down the banisters
cos you'd get stuck halfway. On a tray would be a good idea.
Great fun. I'll show you the marble hall.
So, this is the marble hall which is the bottom half
of the old medieval great hall. On the far side of the hall,
you see the old medieval archways.
And the archways go to the buttery, the kitchen and pantry.
And the whole meal would be processed from the kitchen
down the corridor, through that door to the big table up there.
The whole purpose of the house was cooking and serving food.
-And entertaining, exactly.
But there's no food coming from that kitchen now.
No. Well, we'll go and have a look
and see if we can make something happen.
Today, Charlie and AJ do their own cooking
in their private family kitchen. But in the 19th century
this house employed over 30 domestic servants,
including cooks and kitchen maids.
The kitchen they worked in has been perfectly preserved.
Mary, this is the Victorian kitchen.
It's so lofty and big.
And the copper, gosh, I'm glad I don't have to clean that.
Yes, I mean, what's amazing about this space is it's been the kitchen
of the castle since 1390, when the castle was built.
So, you can sort of think of 600 years of just preparing food
and feasting from this kitchen.
But in the 20th century
the grand entertaining came to an end.
In the 10, 20 years after the war, you know, the butler left,
the housemaids left. My grandparents had to diversify, you know,
generate an income and open it to visitors.
And that was a learning curve
because you find out you need a tearoom.
Exactly. So, here's my grandmother Venetia overseeing the baking of the
-scones. She'd have loved to have met you, Mary.
I couldn't come to Devon without having a cream tea,
a Devon cream tea.
Would you like to see my scones?
I think they're very special.
They're crispy on the outside and all soft and spongy in the middle.
Oh, Mary, we would be honoured and would really, really enjoy
to have some of your cream tea.
There's nothing more tempting than warm, home-made scones,
fresh from the oven.
This recipe is a classic.
To please everyone, I'm making both plain and fruit scones.
So, for my scones, this is the recipe I've done year in, year out.
And it seems to be a very good one.
The ingredients couldn't be simpler.
450g of self-raising flour.
Then, for extra lightness, two teaspoons of baking powder.
50g of sugar and 100g of butter.
I've made more scones in my time than I can think of,
because the ingredients you've always got on the shelf.
They're very easy to make.
Just rub it and lift the air into it until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Next, I'm beating two eggs and adding milk
to bring it up to 300ml.
Then, I use a knife, and I just work it in.
It'll be a fairly sticky dough and that's what I want.
And I won't handle it too much.
And the little bit that is at the bottom I'll use it to brush over
the scones to give them a nice, shiny top.
That looks like a nice, sticky dough.
Not too dry.
Now it's ready to shape.
I've got some flour over here.
So, I'm putting my hand in there so that, as I work it all together,
it won't stick to my hand.
Well, not too much anyway.
So, bring it together.
And, then, onto a floured table, just tip that out.
And I'm not doing an awful lot of kneading.
I'm going to cut it in half.
One half I'll keep for the plain scones
and the other half I'll mix with the sultanas.
Knead those in.
You don't really need a rolling pin, just pat it all over.
Now, what I'd really like are two little helpers.
There we are.
How about, Jack, you come here?
Have you made scones before?
-And what about you?
-So, what I do when I'm cutting them out
is to get a little pile.
And what you do is just do that and it stops it sticking.
-And wriggle it like that backwards and forwards.
That's it. Oh, that looks a beauty.
We'll pop the scones on a greased baking tray, flour side down.
Right, now, we want them with shiny tops.
A little bit on each one.
Try not to get it too down the sides because, if you do,
it sticks to the tray.
So, Jocelyn, when you came from America,
what was it like to come over here to live in a castle?
Do you ever get lost?
I got lost for 20 minutes trying to find the kitchen for breakfast.
I expect there are many places to play hide and seek.
-A lot. My parents have said that we probably shouldn't play it
cos once one of my friends got very much lost.
Our scones are ready for the oven.
Bake them at 200 degrees fan
for about ten minutes until they're crisp and golden.
And, then, for the ultimate test.
Serving our Devon cream tea...
-..to the Earl and Countess of Devon.
-That is amazing.
-Or Mum and Dad, to Jocelyn and Jack.
-What goes next?
-That's a well-made scone.
-The cream before the jam.
-The cream before the jam.
-This is because we are in Devon,
-is that right?
-Yes. We were doing some interviews for positions,
and Charlie put the question, "Cream on top or jam on top?"
If they got it wrong, I just couldn't save them.
And the first recorded account of a cream tea, apparently,
comes from the archive of Tavistock Abbey.
Following a Viking invasion in 997 AD, they knocked down the abbey.
And, in order to rebuild it, they employed a number of craftsmen,
and it was the Earl of Devon,
a predecessor of mine called Odrwulf,
he ordered them scones, cream and jam.
Well, that is a good heritage, isn't it?
It proves we invented it and not the Cornish!
That's quite a claim.
But I imagine it takes more than cream teas
to keep a house like Powderham going.
The castle is set on a 3,500 acre estate.
It's home to a working farm as well as a magnificent deer park
run by gamekeeper Dick Durrant.
The deer, to me, they look like little Bambis.
-Yeah, I mean, they're a super-looking animal.
Dick started looking after the deer here nearly 20 years ago
when Charlie's father was still Earl.
The deer herd originates from post English Civil War.
So, about 300 years.
And so it kept going through all the family, through all the generations,
and is continuing?
That's part of the reason
I really enjoy working in this landscape is that
you're working in a piece of almost living history.
Because it's been in the same family ownership for the past 600 or so
years, it has changed, but still looks incredibly similar.
Every year, the Powderham estate
attracts around 35,000 visitors from all over the UK.
But there are some guests who travel from much further afield.
This must be a wonderful landscape for wildlife.
It's so peaceful.
Yeah. During the winter, you will see large amounts
of widgeon and teal,
and the birds nest in the north-west of Russia.
-Gracious. So, they come all that way to here?
Yeah. To come for our winter.
Do you shoot any of the wild duck?
Yeah, we do shoot a very small percentage of them
each year, which we would take away and eat, obviously.
Duck has been on the menu at Powderham for over 300 years.
But you don't need to live on a country estate to enjoy it.
This is my pan-fried breast of duck,
served with a rich apple sauce with Calvados,
in honour of the Courtenay family's French heritage.
I really like duck.
And, so often over the years, I've done it duck a l'orange.
But it goes really well with apples.
I like to remove the skin.
Use a sharp knife for any tough bits.
That's come off very nicely.
Season the duck breasts. That's it.
Then, fry them in a hot pan for four minutes on each side.
Right, that looks a bit of all right, lovely colour there.
PAN SIZZLES Turn it over.
That smells pretty good.
Once they're evenly cooked on both sides,
leave them to rest for 15 minutes.
And resting is all-important. Why? Because the heat that you had
on the outside will go on cooking and also it makes it more tender.
Then it's on to my apple and Calvados sauce...
..made with eating apples.
I'm going to do it in butter because I want the buttery taste.
There's a tiny little bit of residue from the duck,
and that will help to give a little bit of brown to my apples.
Gently cook the apple slices until they're tender and golden.
Now, that's getting soft but not quite.
The reason why I wouldn't use something like a Bramley,
a cooking apple, because it would get to this stage
and it would be a beautiful buttery mush, and I don't want that.
I want to have a bit of texture within the sauce.
I reckon we're there.
Now leave the apple to cool.
Then it's time for the star of my sauce, Calvados.
Of course, Calvados is apple brandy.
I'm using 100ml and I'm just going to evaporate that just until
it's half, that'll drive off the alcohol.
Mind you, that smell, it makes me think of Christmas,
it makes me think of special things.
Once the Calvados has reduced by half,
it's onto the next part of the sauce,
100ml of stock and 200ml of apple juice.
Add to the pan and reduce again.
I want the sauce to be slightly thickened,
so I'm going to do that with cornflour instead of flour.
It gives a more translucent look to the sauce.
Mix a teaspoonful of cornflour with a splash of apple juice.
Add some of the sauce.
In it goes. Give that a good stir.
Back into the pan there.
And bring it to the boil, stirring as it thickens.
I'm going to add the apple to it now.
And take it off the heat.
I don't want that apple to go all mushy.
For an extra hit of flavour and colour,
add any remaining juices from the meat to the pan.
Right. We're ready to serve.
I want it to be a gentle pink,
and I think that's just what I've achieved,
and I'm rather pleased about that.
I reckon that took me about half an hour to make.
Oh, so simple to do, and yet so special.
And who better to sample it than the countess,
or AJ as she's known to everyone here at Powderham.
AJ, come in. I hope you're hungry.
-Come in and have a taste.
-Oh, it smells amazing.
I feel very lucky right now.
It's perfect. The sauce isn't too rich.
No cream in there. No cream at all.
It's a perfect combination.
So, how did you come to be countess here when you come from America?
I met him in a bar in Vegas.
I'd organised a bachelorette weekend.
-A hen weekend.
-A hen weekend.
And I was on a TV show at the time, so I could get a really cool suite.
You were doing a show?
-So you were acting?
Before she moved to Powderham,
AJ enjoyed a successful career as an actress in America.
Over the years, she starred in shows including Seinfeld,
My So-Called Life and Baywatch.
So, as an actress, you were in a bar.
And I looked across the bar, and I smacked my girlfriend, and I said,
-"That one, yum."
-I can see you saying that, too!
Well, who wouldn't?
And he was just smiling and flopping his floppy hair,
and we just looked at each other and smiled.
So, when you got to know Charlie, quite well, in Las Vegas,
did you know in fact that he had a title?
No. No, one of the guys said, "Hey, that's a good one, he's royalty."
-But I didn't...
-Didn't take it in?
No. And then the next morning I called my mom, and I said,
"Mom, I've met the guy."
We had a rendezvous in New York, like, a month later.
Letters started coming, and then phone calls like clockwork.
And then we went to Isle of Skye, and then we drove back and he said,
"Do you want to meet my parents?" And, um, I was like, "Wow. Serious."
And we show up at this house, and it's, like, this long driveway,
then these amazing gardens, and then this stone castle comes up,
and I was just like, "Whoa, this can't be for real."
And it still happens, where you look out and just go, "It's magic."
That is a truly romantic story.
I can only guess what it must have been like for AJ moving to this very
different world and taking on this vast house
with centuries of history and tradition.
Today, she's invited me
to share some of the remarkable family stories she's discovered.
Well, this is the state bed,
the place where Charlie's father was born.
When Charlie and I first got here to the house,
we started walking through rooms and opening drawers and just seeing
what's where. And we found...
..we found this. Come see.
Hundreds of love letters.
These are from Charlie's grandparents,
from Christopher to Venetia,
and from Venetia to Christopher.
So, they met when Venetia was married to the Earl of Cottenham.
-Oh, married before?
Yes, this was a bit of a scandal.
And he travelled a lot, and wasn't very pleasant.
That's where the trouble starts!
And this is a beautiful picture of Venetia,
and she was a very striking woman.
-And her eyes.
And this is Christopher.
So, they met and fell in love, and had this passionate romance,
and these are all the letters before they got married.
Can you see it? Look at this one.
"My wife, my best armchair, my private sanctum, our home."
Very intense, very romantic.
It's just fantastic.
They are ripped open. Look at the tops.
You can imagine, "I'm so excited, the letter's coming."
-I want to know what's inside.
-Yes. This is from Christopher.
"I could not sleep. It was ten o'clock.
"And I asked your picture if it could help me.
"It is marvellous how I can have a conversation with you when...
"..we are miles apart,
"and how you seem to put new life into me and help me always."
It's all very touching, isn't it?
It is. And he'd just inherited
Powderham at age 19 after three relatives passed away in succession.
Then, finally, they got married, and they could be together,
and they were in the house together for one month,
and then he got called to war.
And what happened to him?
And he was never the same after the war.
It's a real drama.
It's a real-life love story, and it's something we relate to,
cos I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Charlie having written me
And then this, this we have in the other room.
-Would you like to see some coronation robes?
-I'd love to.
In 1953, Christopher and Venetia attended the Queen's coronation.
They cared for Powderham until Christopher's death in 1998.
So, this is what Christopher and Venetia wore.
Would you like to try a coronet?
-Are you sure?
-Go for it!
That one's a lot more comfortable than the little one.
I'd have probably been better at it if I went to the finishing schools.
-You've got to balance it.
-That looks quite saucy.
-One shake and it would drop on the floor.
-And I dare say it's quite valuable.
-This one does have the little strap.
So if there is, in the future, a coronation,
you would be wearing these robes?
Wow. Cos I'm a little short for that one.
-After all, you are a countess.
No, and it's like moving into this house, what are you doing?
You're embodying this role, and you study it.
I mean, the title of countess to me
just means that we're the ones that have to look after the place.
This castle was built in support of its community,
so I'm actually really interested in strengthening ties
and finding out what purpose we can serve.
This is my favourite little cottage on the estate.
-They've just cut it all back.
AJ is showing me how she's opening up the castle...
..with a new project based in the old kitchen garden.
This is a great wall here.
Yes, this is the walled garden.
So this supplied the house with all the food and everything.
But, in modern days, it's kind of been used for charities,
and this has become a very, very magical place.
Powderham recently invited a local charity
to take over the old Victorian greenhouses.
The Dawlish Gardens Trust provides training and support to people
with physical and learning disabilities.
-Would you like to meet Mary?
Nice to see you. Hello, Mary.
-Yes, it is, yes.
If I can introduce the guys that we have here.
We have Natasha and Caroline.
They are both deaf people.
Caroline is also deaf-blind.
It looks as though you're planting pumpkins.
-In the castle, they have treasure hunts.
For the visitors, so lots of kids come.
And when they complete the treasure hunt and get
all the questions right, then they can have a pumpkin to take home.
And wonderful to have such great helpers.
Yes, and it's also wonderful we have a great space to offer,
and we're growing all the vegetables to feed all the animals here.
In the beginning, when we first came,
we were just in one third of the section, but we worked so well,
we actually moved into the middle section.
You'll see all our people busy out there planting and picking.
Yep. They've done mosaics and crafts and photography and...
It's just a wonderful space,
and this is something that I see Powderham doing so naturally.
You know, it was built to protect and serve its community,
and we feel very lucky to have them around.
As a thank you to everyone who's helped them recently,
AJ and Charlie will be hosting a special party during my visit.
Just what I need. And they're beautifully young.
I think that'll be about enough.
And I think it would be lovely to use some of their own delicious veg
in a recipe I'm sure everyone will enjoy.
This is my refreshing midsummer salad.
Along with tender broad beans from the greenhouse, I'm using asparagus,
figs and goat's cheese,
all drizzled with a Dijon mustard dressing.
Start by podding the broad beans.
Then it's on to the asparagus.
Cut off the tips and slice the stalks diagonally,
which I think is an attractive touch.
So, all those, I'm going to cook in boiling,
salted water for three minutes, just until they're tender.
Cook them any longer and they'll lose their colour,
and they'll lose their flavour.
Pop them in boiling water...
..and, after three minutes, they'll be ready.
They should be a beautiful, bright green colour.
But, to keep that colour, they need to go straight into cold water.
Next, I like to take the cooked broad beans out of their skins,
if there's time. And then when you get inside, look at that.
It's a beautiful bright green colour.
Then take some ripe figs.
Cut off the tops and slice them into quarters.
Now I've got some little gem lettuces.
Just take off the base of that, and then,
leaving the root on so it holds together,
just cut it in thin slices.
So that's our base.
Arrange the lettuce on a large plate, add the figs...
..some of the mixed salad leaves
and a sprinkling of colourful micro-herbs...
..followed by the blanched beans and the asparagus...
..and pepper and salt.
You're certainly going to get lots of textures here.
You'll get a bit of crunch from the asparagus,
and those beans have still got texture.
Now take some goat's cheese,
cut off the rind and crumble it over the salad.
The cheese gives it a real lift and a lovely flavour.
OK, you don't like goat's cheese - use feta.
And finally, on to the dressing.
Chop some chives and add a teaspoon of caster sugar to a bowl.
Then I'm going to put a teaspoonful of Dijon mustard in there,
and about a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Then add a clove of crushed garlic...
..and six tablespoons of mild olive oil.
And it will thicken a bit
because the mustard always makes it a little bit thick.
Season with pepper and salt.
Then in go the chives.
Then I'm going to just drizzle that over the top.
And don't put this dressing on until the last minute.
The whole effect, I think, is lovely.
I really hope Charlie and AJ's party guests will enjoy it.
So, there it is, my midsummer salad.
Beautifully healthy, rather different
and great for a special occasion.
-We've got a bit of a...
-This is great.
-..a storm brewing.
-It's quite fun, isn't it?
For centuries, Powderham has been defined by its location
on the estuary of the River Exe,
a place for both trade and for pleasure.
On a day like this,
there couldn't be anywhere better than being in the estuary.
The estuary is amazing.
The family have always had a great connection to the estuary,
particularly through sailing.
Powderham was always approached from the sea
back in the days, and there was a harbour right in front of the castle
before they built the railway line.
It overlooks this amazing main road, effectively,
up and down from Exeter out to the sea.
As lord of the manor of Powderham,
Charlie owns much of the foreshore along the River Exe,
which he leases to local shellfish growers.
We're now, I think, approaching high tide.
At low tide, so much of this is all mud banks, mudflats,
and this is where you get all the mussels and all the cockles
and all the amazing seafood.
But people pick all sorts of shellfish down here.
It's an absolutely lovely source of food.
As we come up, we're coming towards the Starcross Yacht Club,
and the yacht club has been sailing this estuary
since at least the 1770s.
It has a claim to being the oldest sailing club,
the oldest yacht club, in England.
It was formed originally in the village of Starcross
by an ancestor of mine, William, the second viscount,
along with his friends.
And in the 1950s,
they moved from Starcross up to the old Powderham boathouse.
The founding members of the Starcross Yacht Club
started a number of unique Powderham traditions
which still survive to this day.
So, Mary, this is one of the earliest illustrations that we have
of the castle from the estuary.
It's a lovely print from the mid-1700s.
And it shows the family boat house down here, see,
that the Starcross Yacht Club now occupies.
But of course the other relic that we have from this era,
as well as the yacht club, is the Starcross Dining Club,
which was founded by the same group of gentlemen.
And what's wonderful is that dining club, the Starcross Club,
still meets at Powderham, and they still eat the standard starter
of curried cockles using cockles from the estuary,
and using curry from all these spice ships
that would have been trading up and down the estuary.
Charlie, curried cockles?
-I need to know how to make them.
-Come and show me.
-Let's go to the big kitchen and have a go.
Charlie is going to show me how to cook
this historic Powderham favourite,
fresh Devon cockles smothered in a creamy curry sauce made with apples,
white wine and mango chutney.
So, here we have the cockles.
These would have been harvested out on the estuary.
Hey, that's fresh, isn't it?
I have to confess, I have never cooked cockles.
I've only had them in the East End in a sort of cup.
-And I can remember them being frightfully tough.
But this is interesting.
Charlie starts by frying a large onion.
We now host the cockle dinner here.
-And how many come?
-20 to 30 people.
Some new family names, some old family names,
the farmers and the landowners,
and they all meet and talk about what's going on.
And the first course is always this?
Always curried cockles.
Now we need to add the famous spices.
Charlie is adding garam masala, cumin,
ground coriander and for some heat,
a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
So this is the curry sauce, and, of course, curry,
when this was first made in the 1770s, was just becoming popular
as a sort of preservative of food in English cooking.
And it often disguised flavours that had passed their...
-You know, the fish was getting a bit stinky,
-and they put the curry powder in to disguise it.
Now, add a generous splash of white wine.
-Shall I do that for you?
-Do you want to slosh it?
I'm pretty good at sloshing the wine.
And plenty left for us.
I'll pop that to one side.
Then add 600ml of fish stock.
-Shall I stir while it goes?
-Give it a stir while I pour it in.
As that starts to thicken, pour in 150ml of cream.
Devon knows about the cream.
Then chop two eating apples.
So that will be coming to the boil, and the apple goes in.
The point of the apple is to thicken up the sauce a little bit.
Now let the sauce simmer for a while and reduce.
Right. The next ingredient is some mango chutney.
And Charlie is being pretty generous with it.
Never be shy on mango chutney.
That's far more than most people would add,
and I think you're quite right to do it.
And it just adds that little bit of sweetness to it.
Then add lemon zest, the juice of half a lemon, and season.
-Shall we add the cockles?
-Go on, then.
The cockles should be cooked in advance,
soaked in water for several hours, then steamed or boiled.
I mean, it depends on whether your guests mind a bit of
authentic Exe foreshore in their meal.
But if they don't mind it,
it's actually quite nice to have them sort of a little bit gritty.
-This is ready, isn't it?
-We just need to add a little bit of garnish.
We've got some coriander and some parsley,
and then we'll serve it on a bed of rice.
-It's an absolute first for me.
-It's a bit of all right.
-That works, doesn't it?
It really works!
This is fabulous, everybody!
It is really, really, really good!
I mean...curry and cockles.
I promise you, this'll be on the cards for me.
Powderham is a castle that is full of cherished traditions.
Preserving this heritage is a never-ending task.
There are 34 staircases to clean...
..16 state rooms...
..nearly 40 bedrooms...
..and over 50 antique clocks...
..each of which needs to be wound every week,
a job Maurice Down been doing for over 40 years.
This morning, Charlie is showing me his next big challenge.
So, Mary, all the bedrooms in the house are numbered.
And these bedrooms up here are known as the '30s.
And they've been unoccupied for about 20 or 30 years.
And as you'll see,
they've sadly fallen into something of a decline...
..with the paint peeling off the walls,
plaster falling off the ceilings.
Mould in the corners.
But what's wonderful about up here is the treasures
that the family have sort of collected for years in these rooms.
There are so many boxes and trunks.
I wonder what's in here.
Oh, look. That must have been for top hats.
It's a top hat box, absolutely.
Is that...? It looks like a bath shape.
Travelling bath, Victorian.
Everything you need for going around the Empire.
What else is there? What would that be?
Oh, it's got something written on the front.
That would be a tin hat box.
It says, CP Courtenay, Esquire.
This would have been my uncle Charlie, great, great uncle Charlie,
and that's his local police helmet.
But look down in there, there's a spike,
and you unscrew it and put it on the top,
-would you think?
-There we are.
-Probably doesn't fit me.
-It's actually rather a small head.
His picture in the dining room makes him look like quite a tall man.
-You're tall already.
There's an awful lot for you to do here, Charlie.
People think living in a country house like this,
that it's all like Downton Abbey
and there are butlers and housemaids,
but in reality, there are some parts that are just like this.
Yeah, constantly, you're repairing,
constantly, you're trying to maintain,
constantly, you're finding ways to generate a bit more income
but without damaging things, maintaining things.
So it's a constant balance, but it's a lot of fun.
Do you know, this house is like a maze.
I could so easily get lost.
I'm really glad you're with me!
I know, it's amazing when you bring even experts around the house,
they all find themselves getting lost and disoriented
because the house is so many different eras and so many different
histories all sort of combined together.
And there are all these amazing doors here,
and then every now and again, they'll add a secret door as well
-which takes you somewhere completely different.
And this is a little servants' passage that takes you
from the landing of the staircase through to the minstrels' gallery.
So, this is the minstrels' gallery.
You can sneak in and no-one knows you're here.
And there are some lovely holes in the panel here that were made by
my grandfather when he was a boy to be able to see
what the grown-ups were doing up here.
So, Mary, here's the anteroom,
which is the room that leads into the libraries.
And in here, we not only have a few secret doors, but we also have...
..a secret window.
And the whole place lights up!
So, Mary, here we are in the libraries.
Now, there's a wonderful secret door in the second library.
You're going to have to find it.
I'm looking for a little cut-through.
It sort of must be in this section.
Ah. You see, I can see here that it's all cut away.
-Is that right?
Now you've got to find out how to open it.
Don't tell me, don't tell me.
-I want to find it.
-You're getting warmer.
I wonder if there's a button to press.
Ah, there's a gap. Maybe I put my hand in here and pull?
There's a handle at the end, just like a door handle.
I can't imagine what it's going to reveal.
Do you know, it's the most beautiful, romantic room,
in pale pink and turquoise.
-Can I go through?
-Isn't it a wonderful room?
And, gracious, is that an organ at the end?
Yes, so that's a 1769 organ that's recently been restored
and works perfectly again.
It's actually called the music room,
and it was built for this chap's coming-of-age party.
This is Kitty, William, the third viscount.
He looks pretty dandy, doesn't he?
He was the brother of 13 sisters.
He must have been spoiled rotten by them.
Exactly. Kitty's father died when he was only a teenager,
so he very much became the man of the house, and of course,
when he came of age, he wanted to make a real statement,
and he threw a three-day party over a weekend that we have the most
amazing records of in the archive.
We have some of them over here on the table.
That looks like an invitation.
Your very own invitation to Kitty's weekend celebration.
It's number 567.
There were probably about 600 people invited to the weekend as a whole.
The ball garnered amazing press and publicity,
and there was a wonderful article in the Exeter Evening Post.
And it says, "Friday night was the masquerade,
"it being particularly observed that
"no black dominos were to be admitted."
And, of course, it says that in handwriting
on the front of the invitation.
What are black dominos?
So, a black domino was just a black cloak that some people who weren't
trying very hard would wear to a masquerade ball.
And you say, well, you can't just half-do it,
you've got to wear a proper costume.
And so Kitty was incredibly keen that everybody should dress up.
They ate at one o'clock in the morning!
Now, one o'clock in the morning, I'm ready for bed!
And the tables were laden with viands - meat - fruits, preserves...
And, of course, the food that they served would have been
a real statement of intent, and every single person invited
to the supper was given a peach on their plate.
And a peach in those days was the most exotic and
expensive of fruits, but you were really impressing your guests,
and it really launched Kitty into society as a man of great substance.
As a young man, it seemed Kitty enjoyed a charmed life.
But in later years, his fortunes changed.
His story then got rather tragic.
He developed an affection for a young man called William Beckford,
and when they were quite young,
they were discovered together in bed at Powderham, and a scandal broke.
And that forced Beckford to be exiled.
Kitty stayed at Powderham, lived here, but in 1805,
someone filed gross indecency charges against him and he fled.
Caught a ship bound for Manhattan Island, for New York,
and in 1815, when Napoleon fell, he moved to Paris.
He never returned until he did so in his coffin,
and he's buried in Powderham Church.
And when I was growing up at Powderham as a kid,
there was a huge shame around the gay third viscount,
-or the flamboyant third viscount, as he was called.
-Oh, how sad.
We had no record of what Kitty was doing
during the time he was in exile.
And the assumption was this reprobate was just living it up
in France and in America.
And then, only about ten years ago, these letters were found
in a coal chute in Hampton Wick in south London,
and they are the correspondence between Kitty and his lawyer.
And he is managing the estate on behalf of Kitty,
and this correspondence tells them all about the project for building
a chapel at Starcross,
for which Kitty has donated the land and an endowment.
And so this character that we all grew up knowing as this sort of
reprobate, dissolute man who just left is shown to be the most
conscientious landowner, really caring for the castle,
for Starcross, for the estuary.
And it brings him completely back to life.
Celebrating Kitty's story is just one of the ways Charlie and AJ
are breathing new life into Powderham.
It's been exactly two years since they took over, so tonight,
to mark the occasion, they're having a party.
And they've chosen a venue that was dear to Kitty's heart.
AJ, where are you taking me today?
I'm taking you to a very special place.
It's one of the treasures that I feel is a hidden gem,
because it hasn't really been opened to the public.
I get really excited doing this.
It is, it's really lovely coming down here,
because it's almost like a tunnel of trees.
For decades, this woodland garden, created in the 1770s,
was overgrown and neglected.
Now AJ and Charlie are bringing it back to life.
Just look at that.
It is in the middle of nowhere.
It is so beautiful.
-It's a folly, look at that.
-Yeah, I know!
It's really rather theatrical,
you can imagine a Shakespearean play being here...
-..and the audience flanked.
For me, I just see Midsummer Night, Shakespeare, this is made for it.
So, what's the story behind this folly?
So, the folly is built by Kitty Courtenay,
the third viscount, to entertain.
So Kitty would throw lavish parties and this would be the setting.
-A perfect place for a party.
-Perfect place for a party.
And this is the two-year anniversary of us moving into the house,
so we're thanking our staff and our local community.
I mean, we've had massive support from the local community,
so it's really just a thank-you party and letting everyone
just be in the space and relax and enjoy it.
-And you're going to feed them?
-Yes. I might need some help.
The garden is being transformed into a magical space
for this special celebration.
Meanwhile, I have a job to do too.
I'm making a luxurious fruit pud using fresh Devon ingredients
inspired by Kitty's extravagant birthday party.
Kitty did things in great style.
He gave everybody a peach, which was a sheer luxury at that time.
So in Kitty's honour, I'm going to make a pudding with peaches,
and I'm calling it a peach posset.
First, I'm going to skin six ripe peaches.
I'm going to drop them into boiling water and then loosen the skin,
just like you do for a tomato.
As soon as the skin starts to loosen,
plunge them in cold water to cool down.
Then it's a matter of just peeling them gently.
And doing it like this means... Can you see?
You get that lovely mottley pink colour.
If you try to do it with a knife, you lose all that.
Next, chop the peaches into cubes.
I'm going to add a couple of tablespoons of
light muscovado sugar. That gives it a nice tinge of gold.
And then some brandy.
Adding the brandy to the peaches means,
one, it gives a terrific flavour,
and, two, it stops it discolouring,
because you wouldn't like little brown pieces at the bottom.
Two tablespoons is enough.
Then I'm going to just stir that all together.
And you leave that to marinate.
I like this recipe because it's so easy, so simple.
And now for the topping,
a traditional English dessert called a posset.
My interpretation of a posset is lemon, cream and sugar.
Often it's in a glass on its own,
but the addition of peaches makes it very special.
Add the zest and juice of a large lemon to a pan
and 75g of caster sugar.
And 300ml of double cream.
And stir it gently until it comes to the boil.
It's really a bit like thick custard,
but I promise you it tastes a far cry from that.
As soon as it's bubbling, take it off the heat,
pour that into the jug,
and let it cool.
Now divide the peach mixture between six glasses,
leaving space for the posset topping.
Make sure that they are pressed down so that the liquid is level.
And that means the posset won't run down the side.
I like it when there's not too much of this lovely, rich, lemony topping
and masses of fruit underneath.
Mmm. Quite pleased with that.
Four hours, they will be set.
I usually do it overnight because I like to get ahead.
When they're fully set, they're ready for the finishing touch.
You can do all sorts of things, you can put any edible flower -
pansies or a tiny nasturtium -
but I've got some borage here.
So you just catch hold of the middle,
like that, and pull off the stalk.
I would like to put three in the middle of each one.
It's very delicate, it's very summery,
and it looks as though you've taken extra trouble.
I think those look very, very special.
Perfect for a party.
The time for the celebration has finally arrived.
I can't wait to see the garden in all its party glory.
-Isn't this enchanting?
You've worked so hard.
And look at it all laid. How many are you expecting?
-About three million.
You look so lovely.
Running a place like Powderham requires a huge team effort.
-Are you excited?
-Mary, this is Anita and Elise.
Two local families who have helped us out
over the past couple of years an awful lot.
Friends, family, staff and neighbours,
everyone who has helped Charlie and AJ since they took over,
has been invited to this very special celebration.
And there's a wonderful feast in store for them.
You and AJ have made me so immensely welcome, and what a finale this is.
It is just magical.
And I hope they all enjoy my contributions,
my crispy midsummer salad...
Delicious. Absolutely delicious.
..and of course that special Powderham pud,
my delicate peach posset.
It's a very informal celebration for a very informal family.
It's the two-year anniversary of Charlie and I
driving up with the kids in a moving van to a castle
and I want to thank all of you for being a part of our adventure.
And it's true, fairy tales happen.
Cheers to all of you.
I just wanted to say, Mary, thank you.
You've been so brave, braving the ceiling and the attics,
and the curried cockles.
-So, thank you, Mary,
and thank you, everybody, for making this really special.
I've loved every minute of my visit to Powderham,
a very different stately home.
It's a place with over 600 years of history and tradition,
both a family home and the heart of a vibrant community.
And it's wonderful to see how a new generation is keeping it safe
for the future.
Next time, I visit Goodwood,
where the March family have breathed new life into a great estate.
Wait until I tell the grandchildren, a lap of Goodwood.
I get to peek below stairs...
Here we go, Mary, this is where I keep my secret stash.
..and bake for a magnificent cricket tea.
So fresh. If it falls apart, it's not my fault.
In this edition, Mary Berry visits Powderham Castle in Devon, to spend time with the Earl and Countess of Devon and their two young children. Known as Charlie and AJ, the newest generation of one of Britain's oldest families are taking up the challenge of running a great stately home, reinventing the castle and the Earldom for the 21st century.
Mary's time with the family reveals stories of romance and tragedy, as she discovers the attics and secret passages of this extraordinary home. In the historic kitchen she bakes a Devon cream tea and is shown a Powderham classic - curried cockles. She is also inspired to make a delicate peach posset for a Midsummer Eve woodland party the family are throwing to celebrate their two year anniversary at the castle, as well as to thank the local community.