Highcliffe Castle and Highcliffe Castle Beach A Quick Look Around

Highcliffe Castle and Highcliffe Castle Beach Postcode: BH23 4LE

In Highcliffe, Christchurch, we have Highcliffe Castle and Highcliffe Castle beach. Highcliffe Castle is a grade 1 status listed building built in 1831 – 1836 and is currently owned and managed by Christchurch Council. It was originally built as Lord Stuart de Rothesay’s home and then after a horrendous fire in which it was left to ruin, it has now been restored to the stunning building we see today.

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Highcliffe Castle History

Lord Stuart de Rothesay
Lord Stuart de Rothesay

Highcliffe Castle is probably one of the most important surviving houses of the 18th Century for its romantic and picturesque style of architecture which was so popular at the end of this era. This is why it has been recognised by its Grade 1 listed status on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural and Historical Interest. It has been immaculately restored and is today kept in near perfect condition.

To build the castle Lord Stuart de Rothesay brought a large amount of French masonry that was shipped across the channel and used in its construction. It’s because of this masonry and the regal stained glass windows which make this building seem a lot older than it really is.

To make sure the building was as authentic as possible French workers were brought over to fit the masonry.

Over the many years, lots of high-profile historical people including Kings and Queens and Princesses and Princesses have stayed at Highcliffe Castle Including, Queen Victoria. Lord Stuart de Rothesay’s daughter was the maid to Queen Victoria.

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Mr. Selfridge, the owner of the famous Selfridge department store in London, rented the castle to live in with his family from 1916 to 1922. They loved the castle so much that they tried to buy it but Lord Rothesay refused to sell it. Preferring to keep it within his family and pass it down to his daughter.

In the early 1950s, the castle became a children’s home for a short period of time, later on, it was then used as a school for potential Priests. Just as the Priests were about to move from the castle a fire broke out. It lay dormant for many years. It was then purchased by a businessman who restored the castle before it, unfortunately, caught fire again and was then left to rack and ruin for decades.

In 1977 Christchurch Council purchased the building and renovated it back to its original glory for everyone to visit today. And today the council still owns this magnificent building and the Highcliffe Castle Beach. It is open for visitors to explore the castle and the grounds every day.

Highcliffe Castle Today

Highcliffe Castle itself is an absolutely stunning building built within stunning grounds. Popular with cyclists and walkers and families and dogs. There is more here than just a castle. The beautiful windows are something to behold and the perfect spot for photographs on a wedding day. The steps lead up to where wedding ceremonies take place within the castle. And many wedding photographers take their photos of the bride and groom on these steps and then down on the Highcliffe Castle beach below. The tea rooms puts on a perfect wedding banquet which can be held on the grounds in front of the beautiful flowerbeds. It really is the most stunning venue for a wedding.

Highcliffe castle car park is a pay-per-stay car park and is to the right of the entrance and at the entrance of the beach steps.

From here you can walk along with the Nature Reserve all the way to Hengistbury Head.

A short 15-minute walk along this beach in the other direction will take you to Highcliffe Beach and Christchurch and Mudeford Beach in the other direction. And if you felt like walking further you would be taken to Bournemouth beach. The whole stretch of beach is about 7 miles long.

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Highcliffe Castle Gardens
Highcliffe Castle Gardens

Highcliffe Castle Beach

From Highcliffe Castle walk through the graveled car park. You will come to the beginning of the Steamer Point Nature Reserve and the steps down to Highcliffe Beach.

These steps are rather steep, and there are over 110 of them. So this is something to take note of if you have any difficulty with steps.

Highcliffe Beach Steps
Highcliffe Beach Steps

There is another way to get to this beach if you want to avoid the steps. You can easily walk here along the shoreline from Highcliffe beach which would take around 15 minutes. It’s also very close to Mudeford beach and Avon beach. Some people choose to walk all the way to Bournemouth beach from this location. It’s about a 30-40 minute walk.

Highcliffe Castle beach is a soft sandy beach and is open all year round. It’s a free beach and there is no fee to go on it. It’s great for dog walking and because of the steps to get down, there aren’t that many people on it.

It’s a very open, beautiful spot which is clean and well maintained. All while managing to keep it looking as natural as possible. The beaches in this area including Highcliffe beach and Hengistbury Head beach are all protected and are conservation areas. There are many species and birds here which are endangered and live on the cliffs of the Highcliffe Castle Beach and within the surrounding trees and ferns.

Highcliffe Castle Beach
Highcliffe Castle Beach

Highcliffe Castle Tea Rooms

Directly to the side of the castle is the tea rooms. They serve food daily here as well as some delicious cakes. A popular spot for Mother’s Day Cream Teas. You can order anywhere from sandwiches, and toasties to a cooked meal. They even serve alcohol to enjoy with your meal. It’s a really stunning place to sit and enjoy lunch while looking at the stunning castle and the beautiful, manicured garden grounds.

Weekends and holidays can become very busy so it’s best to try and book a table if you are planning a lunch there as a day out.

To learn more about the history of Highcliffe Castle and Highcliffe Castle Beach and the many events taking place there, then please go to their website for more information.