Highcliffe Castle Guide

Highcliffe Castle & Gardens, Dorset

Highcliffe Castle is a historic castle located in Highcliffe in Dorset. In recent years the castle has undergone an extensive restoration and renovation programme resulting in the castle becoming a heritage attraction with many visitors coming each year. The castle is known for its unique design, the scenic surroundings make for an attraction worth considering for a day out.


Highcliffe Castle was built back in the 19th century, between 1831 and 1835 by Lord Stuart de Rothesay. The building is an important one for historical and heritage perspective and is listed as a Grade I listed building in recognition if its importance. The castle has been referred to as the It has been described as the most important remaining example of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture.

The Castle was built on the site that had previously been the site for High Cliff, a Georgian mansion that had been designed for the 3rd Earl of Bute complete with grounds set out by Capability Brown. The estate was then sold and two entrance lodges are all that remains of the original Georgian Mansion today.

In 1828 Sir Charles Stuart became Lord Stuart de Rothesay and by 1830 he had bought back the eastern part of the estate in keeping with his aim of buying back the estate. Architect William Donthorne was brought in to design the new house that would become the Castle was it is today.

The Castle was built close to be L shaped this was to incorporate a vista through the landscaped gardens across Christchurch Bay and on to the Needles and the Isle of Wight further a field. The result of this configuration and design is a unique house designed in the Romantic Picturesque style. The castle remained as a family home until 1950 when a large portion of the estate was sold separately from the castle. In subsequent years the land has been developed up to the walls of the castle.

At the start of the 1950s the castle was used as a children's home, since then the castle has undergone a large scale restoration and renovation project and has become a popular tourist attraction along with being a wedding venue.

Local stone was used to build Highcliffe with much of it coming from the Isle of Purbeck located close by. The French medieval stonework that was collected by Lord Stuart de Rothesay was brought across the English Channel to Steamer Point located close by needing several barges to transport it. The most noteworthy piece is the oriel window, which is also referred to as King's Oriel Window, it was bought complete. In recent years the window has been renovated and repaired.

Stained Glass was contained in the artefacts brought to the castle by Lord Stuart de Rothesay, the collection ranges from the 12th up to the 19th centuries. The collection is on the whole French but there are also pieces from Switzerland and Germany. The complete 16th century window referred to as the Jesse Window is seen by many as a centrepiece in the castle. The eye catching collection of glass is impressive for visitors to see whilst exploring the castle further.

The castle is a popular wedding venue providing an impressive and scenic backdrop for wedding ceremonies. There are also a number of events, exhibitions and concerts that take place here during the course of the year. Due to the programme of events/weddings it is advisable to always check for opening times before you visit to get the latest information.

How to Get There

The house can be accessed by both car and public transport:

By Car:

Highcliffe is located in Dorset approx 100 miles from central London. From London take the A4 then the M4 then the M25 motorway until junction 12 and exit on to the M3 drive on the M3 all the way until junction 13 and exit on to the M27, at junction 1 exit on to the A337. At the junction with the A35 turn left on to High Street and then the next right on to Gosport Lane, drive along the A35 fro approx 10 miles and turn left at Station Lane and drive straight until the junction with Lymington Road A337, turn right here then finally take the next left at Rothesay Drive and you will see the castle approaching.

For those using Satellite Navigation systems the postcode is BH23 4LE.

By Train:

From London Waterloo Station in central London trains are available to Bournemouth with a journey time of approx 2 hours. Visitors can then get a taxi to the castle, Bournemouth is approx 6 to 7 miles from the castle.

Contact Details

Highcliffe Castle
Rothesay Drive
BH23 4LE
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)1425 278807

Fax: +44 (0)1425 280423

email: events@chiddingstonecastle.org.uk

Website: Highcliffe Castle

Facilities & Information

Opening Times:

Open from February until late December:

From 11.00 until 17.00 (Daily, with last admission at 16.30 & at 14.30 on Friday & Saturday)

Further Information:

Admission Prices:

Adults: £2.60 approx, Children under 16: Free entrance when accompanied by an adult.


The Castle tea rooms serves a range of hot and cold drinks and refreshments, light lunches and cream teas. There are also ice creams available.

The gift shop offers a range of gifts and jewellery along with books and postcards.

There are toilets on the grounds.


View Larger Map

For Local Search and Directions see: Highcliffe Castle Map

Tips & Other Considerations

There may be some variations on the opening hours depending on the time of year and other factors. It is recommended visitors double check before going to ensure the attraction you wish to see is open.

Always remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times. Follow common sense travel advice and ensure valuables i.e. your wallet/purse are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Highcliffe in Dorset, ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the online route planner for door to door directions for your trip. Check the traffic & road news before starting your journey.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time.

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