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Highcliffe Castle

Visiting

Opening hours

1st February - 23 December 11am - 5pm Last admission 4.30pm* *On Saturdays (and some Fridays) when there are wedding receptions, last admission to the Castle will be at 4pm. The State Dining Room does not form part of the normal admission but will be open when not in use. Rooms may be closed due to exhibition change-over or events. We recommend that you phone beforehand if you are coming to visit a specific exhibition (01425 278807). The Grounds of Highcliffe Castle are open to the public free of charge all year round. They open daily at 7am and close at the following times: 6.30pm November to March 7.30pm April and October 9.00pm May and September 10.00pm June, July and August Parking at the Castle is currently FREE until 1 March 2011. Dogs are welcome in the grounds however they must be kept on leads.

Contact

Tel. 01425 278 807

Postcode BH23 4LE

Details

Highcliffe Castle has been described as arguably the most important surviving house of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture, which flourished at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Its significance is recognised nationally by its Grade 1 status on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural and Historical Interest. There is an international importance, too. For a large amount of medieval French masonry, shipped across the Channel, was used in its construction. It is this Norman and Renaissance carved stone, along with the Castle’s Gothic revival features and ancient stained glass, that make it appear older than it is. 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 who had known and loved the cliff-top site overlooking Christchurch Bay since he was a boy. The magnificent building, once lavishly furnished in the 18th century French style remained a family home until the 1950s. In the late 1960s two fires rendered the building derelict and in 1977, to prevent futher deterioration, Christchurch Borough Council purchased it. Today the Castle’s renovated exterior is testimony of 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. In 1998 a further programme of renovation was completed to enable public access to the State Dining Room, Butler's Pantry and East Tower. The Castle is now a popular tourist attraction, community space and wedding venue.

We recommend that visits start in the Great Hall where there are information boards on the Castle’s history. Each room also has a black and white photograph taken by Country Life in 1942 showing what the room was like in its heyday, as well as a room information sheet. Additionally we have a dedicated team of volunteer stewards who will be happy to answer any of your questions. Alternatively a Castle Guidebook is available to purchase which gives the full details of this intriguing building. Price £3.50, available from the reception or Gift Shop. Castle Information sheets are available in French, Spanish, Italian and German.

Highcliffe Castle, Rothesay Drive, Highcliffe, Dorset. BH23 4LE.

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