Dorset Chartered Builders, Greendale Construction Limited, is nearing completion of a major 18 month renovation and restoration of Highcliffe Castle’s Penleaze Wing, which has seen the Grade 1 listed building have access opened up to parts of the castle previously impassable for over 50 years, since devastating fires and vandalism destroyed and cut off parts of the building.
Originally built between 1831-1836 and the vision of distinguished diplomat, Lord Stuart de Rothesay, the repair and renovation works of the castle at Christchurch, Dorset, have carefully combined modern technologies and techniques with minimal repairs to existing plaster and brickwork in order to preserve the castle’s history and the building’s unique story through the centuries.
The castle’s original kitchen dating from the 1800shas been reinstalled, with original stone floors being re-laid along with new concrete ground slabs. Existing retained solid floors have been overlaid and new oak flooring to key rooms has been installed along with underfloor heating. Existing exposed brickwork and remaining original wall and ceiling finishes have been carefully conserved. Previously repaired windows and doors have been sympathetically overhauled and repairs to a remaining stone staircase have been skilfully completed. The works have also seen the extension of upper level stairs with timber, and the formation of 2 new lift shafts and 5 new or restored stairs. A mezzanine level walkway has been completed, and new steel stairs extending to the first and second floor. The Castle has also benefitted from the installation of all new mechanical and electrical services to the Phase 7 areas.
New exhibition and activity spaces have been created along with a new conservation studio, opening in September 2019, which will now enable an internationally important collection of stained glass, originally started by Lord Stuart de Rothesay, to be restored and displayed. The castle will also be able to welcome back some original pieces of Marshal Ney furniture from the Victoria & Albert Museum which was originally bought by Lord Stuart de Rothesay to furnish the English Embassy in Paris and subsequently brought to his own home at Highcliffe Castle.
Greendale’s renovation works also revealed a previously hidden well in the kitchen area, which has now been made safe and incorporated into the design of the completed works for public viewing.
Greendale commenced Phase 7 of the Highcliffe Castle restoration works in August 2017 with the castle grounds, beach and kitchen remaining open throughout the winter. The castle is on target to open the latest phase of works to the general public in spring 2019.
Katie Ingham, Heritage Team Leader at Christchurch and East Dorset Councils, commented: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working in partnership with the Greendale team, throughout the project their professionalism and expertise has been fantastic and their extensive knowledge has enabled each part to run smoothly and effectively. We are excited to open the Penleaze wing in Spring 2019 and we cannot wait for our visitors to enjoy the wonderful work that Greendale have completed on this once vacant part of the castle; we look forward to bringing it alive once more.”
Rob Hooker, Director at Greendale Construction Limited, commented: “The restoration of the Penleaze Wing and creation of the new Heritage Centre has not only opened up parts of the castle previously inaccessible since the fires over 50 years ago but, will also help create a lasting legacy with this historically significant attraction, bringing visitors from all over the world to Christchurch and the surrounding area.”