Step back in time to learn about Powis Castle's wartime evacuees

A never-seen before floor of Powis Castle has opened to visitors for the first time, as they are invited to discover one of the castle’s unknown Second World War stories.

In partnership with Theatr Clwyd, 'Worlds Apart in War – the Welsh Girls School' tells the story of a group of pupils and teachers from The Ashford Welsh Girls School, Middlesex who were evacuated to Powis Castle in 1939. They spent seven years at the castle at the invitation of George Herbert, fourth Earl of Powis, a governor of the school.

This brand-new programme brings the girls’ untold story to life using film, audio installations, and reinstated school rooms including a classroom, dormitory, prep room and common room.

Visitors will be able to step back in time to hear the voices of the castle, the family and the schoolgirls, as they explore the elaborate state rooms.

The stories of eight of the girls, aged 11-16, will unfold over two years, finishing on 31 January, 2021.

Visitors will be able to follow an unexpected war story of gym classes in the ballroom, midnight feasts, picnicking on the roof, and even the exciting discovery of a hidden room which housed boxes of golden artefacts.

The stories are based on ‘Glad Hearts Adventuring’, an original play written for Powis Castle by script writer Lucy Gough. It was inspired by true accounts of ex-pupils at the Welsh Girls School as well as historical documentation from the time.

As part of the programme visitors will be able to explore the castle’s second floor which has been closed since the castle was gifted to the nation in 1952.

Emma Thompson, general manager at Powis Castle and Garden, said: "We interviewed several ex-pupils whilst developing Worlds 'Apart in War – the Welsh Girls School' and it was fascinating to hear about their Powis Castle. It’s given us the chance to tell a new story, which is very different to that of the Herbert family.

“As well as telling the story of Powis and the Welsh Girls School, we’ll be expanding the programme over the coming months to tell stories about how the war affected the wider estate, Welshpool and the surrounding area too.

“By working in partnership with Theatr Clwyd we’ve been able to present the castle and collection in a new and immersive way.

"A highlight of this year will come at the end of April when we have 10 days of live performance from Theatr Clwyd in the Ballroom. Visitors will be able to join the girls as they hunt for ghosts, meet a new member of the Herbert family and discover a bit more about the history of Powis Castle.”

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