Highcliffe Castle is a magnificent Georgian Gothic Revival structure set in beautiful grounds just minutes from its own peaceful stretch of golden beach overlooking Christchurch Bay.
The castle has had a revival of late through the popularity of the television programme Mr Selfridge, which documented the life of one of its longstanding tenants, Mr Harry Gordon Selfridge, an American businessman who brought the Selfridges department store to the capital. He moved his wife and children out to Highcliffe during World War One looking for somewhere safe and away from the terror of the Zeppelin bombers, renting the castle for the princely sum of £5000 a year. He spent £25,000 on improvements to the castle in 1925 even though he was still a tenant and threw lavish parties out on the lawns.
The majority of the structure was built between 1831 and 1836 largely using medieval French masonry shipped across the Channel which makes the Castle appear much older, using this recycled ancient Normal and Renaissance carved stone. The Castle was originally built for Lord Stuart de Rothesay, a diplomat who spent a lot of time in the area as a young boy and it was largely furnished in 18th century French style.
It remained as a family home until the 1950s but was purchased by Christchurch borough council in the 1977 to prevent it from deteriorating after two devastating fires in the 1960s. It was restored in the 1990s and today is a popular venue for weddings, exhibitions and other grand functions.