Famous Visitors

Famous Visitors

For a country house which has stood for little more than 170 years, Highcliffe Castle can boast an impressive number of royal visitors. As well as British royalty, they have come from right across Europe – France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Greece, Italy, Sweden and Norway.
 
The list includes six kings or future kings, and ten queens or future queens. Ten princes and 12 princesses have also been guests.
 
The first British royal visitor was the Queen Dowager Adelaide, widow of King William IV, who looked over the Castle in 1842 with a view to leasing it as a winter home. Although impressed, she did not take it on.
 
Queen Victoria was keen to see the Castle, but her plans to sail across from the Isle of Wight in 1842 fell through. However, five of her nine children and 15 of her grandchildren all made visits.
 
 
Her eldest son both visited and stayed at the Castle several times as Prince of Wales and as King Edward VII. After enjoying the beach on his first visit with his family in 1880, he and his sons Eddy and George (the future King George V) swam back to the royal yacht moored offshore. When Prince of Wales, Edward was photographed at the Castle in 1900 after a motor outing to the New Forest (see picture opposite). He was driven by John Scott Montagu, later the 2nd Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, in his 1899 12hp Damler.
 
 
The most publicised royal visit was when Kaiser William II, the German Emperor, spent a three-week break at the Castle in 1907, living the life of an English country gentleman. Just seven years after being cheered wherever he went, World War I turned him into the most hated figure in Britain.
 
Apart from royalty, the Castle’s many distinguished visitors include William Gladstone, four times Prime Minister, and his wife who had “a real comfortable rest” staying with Lady Waterford in 1889.
 
Dame Nellie Melba, the Australian-born soprano, was a frequent guest of the Stuart Wortleys. Nancy Mitford, the best-selling author, described her stays at Highcliffe Castle with her aunt Violet Stuart Wortley as “among the truly happy times of my life”.

Highcliffe was the place that Gordon Selfridge, founder of the famous London store, loved more than anywhere else in England. The American-born tycoon came to know the area well during the period from 1916 to the mid-1920s when he rented Highcliffe Castle as his country home. He had moved with his mother and wife away from the dangers of wartime London.

More recent celebrities who have appeared in front of TV cameras at the Castle are EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer and Michael Aspel and the Antiques Roadshow team who filmed here in June 2007.