The first clue we had were the ladies “of a certain age” occupying ever bench in the grounds. It wouldn’t have surprised me if they had a picnic and a Thermos hidden in their bags too because they certainly looked like this was a regular occurrence for them. Certainly in the summer, anyway. 4pm on a Saturday afternoon in August in the pretty garden behind Highcliffe Castle and all eyes were on the drive, waiting for the imminent arrival of the bride. According to the wedding photographer we overheard, the bride should have been there at 3.30pm and was currently “running 45 minutes late”. Though if you asked the slightly restless looking congregation, she was actually an hour and 45 minutes late because their invites had said 2.30pm.
And when I say “slightly restless” I mean page boys rolling down grass banks, chasing one another through the gardens, and anybody with a cigarette standing on the steps willing the guest of honour to get a bloody move on.
We had stumbled across this scene on our way back from Bournemouth last Saturday afternoon when having picked up the item from Gumtree we had made the trip for, we decided to come home via a more scenic route than the M3. We only found Highcliffe Castle by chance having seen a sign for it hidden by some trees, and we would have stayed longer if had more than a pile of 5ps between us with which to feed the pay and display machines.
You couldn’t pick a more idyllic spot for a castle, on the cliffs, slightly in land, but with steps down to a beach on the south coast of England. I can see why our bride chose it for her big day and it is easy to see why Lord Stuart de Rothesay picked this spot as the place to build his home in 1835. His grandfather, Lord Bute owned the land before that. Lady Waterford inherited it and Kaiser Wilheim II stayed to convalesce in the early 1900s and was so grateful he donated a pair of stained glass windows. So whilst this is Window Wednesday and there are a distinct lack of actual photos of windows I am using this as a bookmark for a future post and thought the castle itself was pretty enough to feature in this week’s post. And there is a prize for the first person to translate the message below!:
Restored after some devastating fire it is the most gorgeous castle. Sadly we didn’t have time to go inside and learn more about its connection to Harry Selfridge (yes, THE Mr Selfridge) who lived here with his wife and mother (who are all also buried in the nearby church yard) but I am definitely coming back to explore some more.