Highcliffe Castle

This project was awarded Highly Commended in the Restoration category at the Natural Stone Awards 1997.

The official guide said, 'Highcliffe Castle has been described as the most important remaining example of the romantic and picturesque style of architecture in England, although two fires in 1968 and subsequently standing derelict and open to the elements for 25 years left it in a sorry state.

However, more than three years ago the council and local people of Christchurch managed to raise and secure enough money to start the restoration of the cliff-top castle which Lord Stuart de Rothesay had had built for him between 1830 and 1835.

Highcliffe Castle was built of stone which de Rothesay, a diplomat, brought back with him from France. Most of it was 12th and 15th century stonework from Jumieges Abbey and La Grande Maison des Andelys and includes the 'King's Oriel Window', so-called because it lit the room in which Antoine de Bourbon died after the siege of Rouen in 1562, watched over by his son, the future Henri IV.

After the fires of 1968 the exposure to the weather caused accelerated rusting of the original iron fixings, leading to widespread damage to the structural and decorative stone and Roman Cement detailing.

This is not a full restoration, as many damaged elements and details have been conserved as they are in order to avoid conjecture in the future about what was there originally.   Only elements which were essential for structural and visual integrity have been recreated, using British stones, if they were missing.'

The judges commented, 'This is a most unusual building and the work here has involved almost every aspect of repair, restoration and conservation allied to extensive structural works. It is a textbook example of great care and skill giving a major, almost derelict building a future and a place in the community.'

 

Highcliffe Castle using Portland Stone