Highcliffe Castle was built in 1835 by Lord Stuart de Rothesay to incorporate medieval stonework and stained glass from around the world. It is a superb example of Gothic Revival style.
Built mainly between 1831 and 1836, the Castle is the realisation of one man’s fantasy. He was Lord Stuart de Rothesay, a distinguished diplomat. He built the Castle following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Lord Bute, who had built an earlier mansion on the cliff-top site when it was just open heathland.
The mansion was inherited by Lady Waterford who welcomed the Prince and Princess of Wales, who went on to become King Edward and Queen Alexandra.
At a later date, Kaiser Wilhelm II visited in 1907 in order to recover from ill health. In gratitude for the hospitality, the Kaiser gave a pair of stained glass windows to Edward Stuart Wortley, the owner at the time.
The most notable tenant to have rented the Castle was Harry Selfridge, founder of Selfridges department store in London. Selfridge’s connection to the Castle still remains as he, his wife and his mother are buried in St Marks church, Highcliffe.
The Castle briefly served as a children’s home and a seminary for Catholic priests.
Unfortunately a pair of devastating fires in the 1960’s left Highcliffe a roofless ruin, which in turn left the Castle uninhabited for years.
Today the Castle’s renovated exterior is testimony to the remarkable skills of craftsmen and women who carried out a huge repair and conservation programme in the 1990s, jointly funded by Christchurch Borough Council, English Heritage and a £2.65 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.