Powerscourt and surrounding lands were granted to Richard Wingfield, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1618, when he was 68, Richard Wingfield became the first Viscount of Powerscourt. However, this title died with him as he left no direct heir. The estate passed instead to his cousin Edward. When Cromwell invaded Ireland in the middle of the 17th century, Powerscourt was burned and partially levelled to prevent Cromwell’s forces from using it as a base. Despite this, the Wingfields retained control of their lands throughout this turbulent time. Their fortunes were uplifted when Folliot Wingfield married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the wealthy Robert Boyle. Folliot went on to become Viscount Powerscourt of the Second Creation, and he and his wife Elizabeth were to rebuild parts of the castle during their 50-year marriage.
They had no children to pass the title onto so the title died once again. The estate passed to a cousin who died shortly after inheritance, which then passed onto his son, Richard Wingfield. It was this Richard who was responsible for the reconstruction of the house in the 18th century. He appointed the famous architect Richard Castle, who was noted for designing famous buildings in Dublin such as Leinster House, the redesign of Carton House and Russborough House, as well as Conolly’s Folly, built for the Conolly’s of Castletown House. The construction of the new house at Powerscourt was completed in 1741, in the stately Palladian style, with 68 rooms.
Powerscourt was passed through the Wingfield family until 1961 when it was sold to the Slazenger family, who had become wealthy through sports and leisure products. They undertook a large programme of restoration and renovation. However, their toil turned to tragedy when a large fire destroyed the house and most of its contents in 1974. The house remained roofless until 1996, when another large programme of works was carried out to help to transform Powerscourt into the fine visitor attraction it is today.