From the ashes of devastating fires in the 1960s, Highcliffe Castle has risen to its current magnificence, but there is a great deal of work still to do to realise the full potential of this stunning grade one listed building. Following the funds being awarded work is due to start in June 2017.
This project will repair the East Wing of Highcliffe Castle and create a new public Heritage Centre, supported by events and activities which will generate and sustain public interest for years to come. In this sense the project is not merely about restoration but about creating a lasting legacy for Christchurch, and an attraction that will support the local economy and overall visitor experience for those visiting the Borough.
• Within the facility we will be able to conserve and display the medieval stained glass collection created by Lord Stuart de Rothesay and considered to be of international significance. The project will fund a stained glass conservator and apprentice for three years to restore the collection in a purpose built workshop within the Heritage Centre. The glass will then be mounted on permanent display in the basement, providing the most appropriate setting in which to experience and appreciate these art forms. We aspire to make Highcliffe Castle a Centre of Excellence in this field. Once the castle’s own stained glass has been restored it is intended to create a social business enterprise opportunity so that stained glass restoration and commissions for others can continue at the Castle. This would be developed as an independent business which fulfils the HLF funding legacy.
• In a room restored to museum standards of humidity, light and security, we hope to negotiate the return, on loan, of some of the original Marshal Ney furniture from the Victoria & Albert Museum. The furniture was originally bought by Lord Stuart de Rothesay to furnish the English Embassy in Paris and subsequently brought to his own home at Highcliffe Castle. This will be a rare opportunity to see this magnificent furniture at close proximity, and will allow visitors to picture more clearly how the castle would have looked in its heyday.
• Work in the grounds of Highcliffe Castle will create a Heritage Park environment and its interpretation will reflect the diverse heritage from the original Bute High Cliff Mansion in 1775 to the influence of Capability Brown; and from military use in both world wars to more contemporary influences. What remains of the original estate runs from Chewton Bunny to Friars Cliff and will link with Steamer Point Nature Reserve to provide informative and stimulating surroundings and a broad education/heritage experience. All routes through the estate will be improved to ensure that all visitors have access, including improved disabled access to the castle itself. This project coincides with the tercentenary of the birth of Capability Brown and a national project to celebrate his work and influence on landscape architecture in Britain. As one of only two coastal designs attributed to him, Highcliffe will feature in this official celebration.
We would like to thank the following organisations in their support and funding for the latest phase of restoration ‘The Phoenix Flies’ at Highcliffe Castle:
•Heritage Lottery Fund, £2.83 million https://www.hlf.org.uk/
•Country Houses Foundation £70k http://www.countryhousesfoundation.org.uk/
•Pilgrims Trust 30k http://www.thepilgrimtrust.org.uk/
•Wolfson Foundation 31k http://www.wolfson.org.uk/
•Christchurch Borough Council £390k (capital) and £255 (revenue) https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/