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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Coach displayed for castle visitors
The State Coach used by the Earls of Powis
The state coach was used at a coronation a hundred years ago
A state coach used at the coronation of King Edward VII a hundred years ago has gone on public display for the first time.

The state coach, used by the Earls of Powis since the mid 1800s, is now housed at the coach house at Powis Castle near Welshpool.

The coach house which was officially opened by the 8th Earl of Powis on Tuesday has been adapted to accommodate the now-fragile vehicle.

The coach itself is believed to have been built for the 3rd Earl of Powis, who succeeded to the title in1848, by one of London's leading coach builders, Wyburn & Co.

Uniforms for the coach's staff were commissioned by the fourth earl in 1898 so it is probable that the vehicle was built sometime between 1848 and 1898.

The coach is exceptionally well preserved and an excellent example of a 19th century nobleman's state coach
Anna Orton, Powis Castle

It was kept at the family's London residence at Berkeley Square where it was only used for formal court functions and important family events.

Anna Orton, Powis Castle's property manager, said it was rare for the coach's accompanying harness, tack and uniforms worn by the servants to survive.

It is the only complete ensemble in the ownership of the National Trust, which runs Powis Castle, and which bought the coach from the Powis family for 70,000.

"The coach is exceptionally well-preserved and an excellent example of a 19th century nobleman's state coach," said Mrs Orton.

During the Victorian and Edwardian periods all aristocratic families had a distinctive uniform, or livery, for their servants.

Powis Castle( National Trust Photographic Library/Ian Shaw)
Powis Castle is famous for its terraced gardens

On formal occasions the coach was manned by a coachman and two footmen and was used for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.

The coachmen wore a white wig, a three cornered hat, a heavily braided and silver corded coat, silk breeches and silver buckled shoes.

The footmen would have stood on a leather-covered platform at the back of the coach and carried silver-topped staves which were needed in earlier days to fend off attackers.

The coach returned to Powys in 1937 and was not used by the 5th Earl of Powis when he attended the Queen's coronation exactly fifty years ago in June 1953.

Thousands of visitors are attracted to the medieval Powis Castle each year to wander its terraced gardens and view the property's treasures.

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