Country mouse at Picton Castle

Rupert visits a fascinating part of Wales

Streams of police vans and motorbikes passed me on the opposite side of the M4 as I was making my way to Pembrokeshire on Saturday. They had clearly been on duty at the Celtic Manor Resort for the NATO summit and were beetling off to Stonehenge, which President Obama wanted to tick off his bucket list.

If only he’d headed west to my destination, Picton Castle. The stones are smaller, for sure, but still Welsh and rather better arranged into the seat of the Philipps family. But that’s the trouble—it is difficult to attract large numbers to head this far west in spite of the delightful beaches, abundance of proper castles and wealth of wildlife.

Royal portraitist Nicky Philipps and her mother, Susie, are always thinking of fundraising ideas to keep the place going. A recent Elvis evening had pants for sale with the King’s words artfully inscribed on them. However, they now know that the good denizens of Haverfordwest don’t have an appetite for underwear stating ‘Are you lonesome tonight?’ and ‘You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog’.

I’m as surprised as you must be, but if the leader of the free world wanted a small victory, he could have inspired a boom in lingerie eisteddfods at castellated houses by buying just one pair of Y-fronts to take back to Graceland.

* This article was first published in Country Life magazine on September 10 2014

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