The place is popular for hitching ceremonies of the opposite-sex variety. So, to avoid breaching the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, Lord Bigot (who is the 18th Earl of Devon) has banned all civil marriage ceremonies whether they are gay or straight.
But he faces a possible battle with the tax man after he refused a request to allow two gay men to hold a civil partnership ceremony. His stately home gets a conditional exception from inheritance tax because it's open to the public.
A report in the Daily Telegraph says:
Its regulations say that to obtain exemption the new owner must agree to look after the property and allow public access to it and that if the owner fails to fulfil their side of the bargain "the exemption is withdrawn".
Ben Summerskill of the gay-rights lobby group Stonewall tells the paper, "We shall certainly be asking the Treasury about Lord Devon's inheritance tax exemption. The inheritance tax regulations appear to suggest clearly that it should be withdrawn if his premises are not accessible to all members of the public without exception."
And just why is His Lordship so against having gays marry behind his centuries-old battlements? "I am a Christian," he said, "and therefore it [homosexuality] is objectionable to my Christian religion."
Lord Bigot insists that the complaint to the Treasury over the tax issue is unfounded, because he is not banning gays from visiting the house or its grounds but only from celebrating their civil partnerships there.
Interestingly, the 9th Earl (formerly the 3rd Viscount) fled to France in 1811 after being accused of sodomy. The Powderham website says:
The Third Viscount led a rather flamboyant lifestyle. He was a homosexual, and was forced to live abroad in consequence, first of all in the United States where he owned a property on the Hudson River in New York State, and later in Paris where he died in 1835. In 1831 he successfully applied to have the title of Earl of Devon, created in 1553, restored to the Courtenay family and became the 9th Earl. Despite having lived abroad for so long, he was dearly loved by his tenants who insisted that he be buried in stately fashion back at Powderham.
One of the stately homos of England, you might say.