Lord Stuart de Rothesay

Charles Stuart, the future Lord Stuart de Rothesay, had just left Eton College at 16 when his father sold off High Cliff mansion. Tradition has it that he vowed then that one day he would buy back the estate and, like his grandfather Lord Bute, build his own home there.

This is indeed what happened, but not before Charles had a remarkable career as a diplomat. After postings in Austria, Russia and Spain, he became British Minister in Lisbon and the Duke of Wellington’s “right-hand man” in the Peninsular War, which earned him a knighthood.

 
Sir Charles, having reached the rank of ambassador, was with Wellington in Brussels shortly before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when he lent his servants in their grand livery for the famous Duchess of Richmond’s Ball.
 
With the defeat of Napoleon, Sir Charles escorted the exiled French King Louis XVIII back to Paris and took up the post of British Ambassador there. During his nine-year term from 1815 to 1824, he married the wealthy Lady Elizabeth Yorke, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke. Both of their children, Charlotte and Louisa, were born at the Embassy.
 
Sir Charles went on to lead a British mission which helped to negotiate treaties by which Brazil became independent of Portugal and slavery was abolished in Brazil.
 
Honoured with a peerage in 1828, he took the title of Baron Stuart de Rothesay and became Ambassador in Paris for the second time. The year after this term ended in 1830, he began to build Highcliffe Castle on the old estate land he had gradually bought back.
 
After the Castle was completed, he returned to diplomacy in 1841 as Ambassador to Russia. But ill-health eventually led to him returning home and he died at Highcliffe in 1845.
 
He was buried at St Mark’s Church, Highcliffe, for which he had given the land and a generous donation towards its building in 1841-42.