Highcliffe Castle work starts

Further restoration work on Highcliffe Castle begins today.

At first the library and the ante-library, where the Kaiser have his famous Telegraph interview, will be closed.

The entire castle will be closed to visitors during the winter.

The work is being undertaken by Greendale Construction of Poole which recently undertook work on Durlston Castle.

The £2.9m project is due for completion in spring 2019 when it is planned to have long lost furniture returned.

The Castle Kitchen cafe will remain open during restoration.

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Centenary of first WW1 memorial

Barton Court shortly before the memorial was erected on the left

The war memorial at Barton-Sea was dedicated a hundred years ago today.

The ceremony took place Tuesday 10 July 1917 outside the clifftop Barton Court Hotel.

This is the oldest First World War memorial and it was erected before the end of the war.

The obelisk commemorates the establishment of a hospital for Indian troops who had served in Europe. The inscription on one side is in Urdu..

Britain’s only other memorial to the Indian contribution to victory over the Kaiser was erected at Brighton Pavilion in 192i. By coincidence The Dome, a former tearoom opposite the Barton memorial and dating from before the First World War, has echoes of the Royal Pavilion.

A century ago Barton’s memorial, at the south end of Barton Court Avenue, was just within the Barton Court Hotel grounds.

The hotel, described in 1899 as “a most delightful and unique retreat” with a nine-hole golf links adjacent, was taken over by the Army in 1914 to be “the convalescent depot for Indian troops”.

Many soldiers were in huts in the grounds which the patients found cold. As a result the camp magazine was called ‘Barton Breezes’.

Most of the Barton Court Hotel has been demolished as the cliff dramatically receded but the west end survives as a parade of seaside shops including Sails tea shop.

The name ‘Barton Court’ is still found on a gatepost.

Indian soldiers, a familiar sight at nearby New Milton Station, were also cared for at  Barton’s Grand Marine Hotel which stood on the western corner of First Marine Avenue.

The Urdu inscription

The former Dome tearoom known to the Indian soldiers

Dedication of memorial in July 1917

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Highcliffe Castle cafe reopens

Highcliffe Castle tea rooms has reopened and is rebranded Castle Kitchen.

Christchurch Council declined to renew Sean Kearney’s contract and, despite huge local opposition, has accepted a bid from the international Aramark catering company.

The Castle Kitchen is open daily 9.30am-5pm (winter 10am-4pm).

Outdoor tables last summer


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Coastal Access consultation views

The Isle of Purbeck from Canford Cliffs

Natural England has published proposals for how the national coastal path might pass along the Bournemouth coast.

This is the result of plans promised under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

After careful reading I have now submitted my observations.

The great disappointment to me is that the proposed Poole Bay route merely follows the promenade.

At present, as recorded on Ordnance Survey maps, the path is mainly along the clifftop from where there are stupendous views rivalling the Cote d’Azur and Naples.

The official proposals ignore this except at Boscombe where the route suddenly and inexplicably climbs the cliff.

Sensibly, the report provides for the winter route, when the Mudeford Ferry ceases to run daily, via Christchurch and Stanpit.

At Avon Beach it is good to see the Christchurch Coastal Path being followed along the top of the low cliff above the beach cafe and shop.

But at Highcliffe the proposed way stays on the beach rather than taking today’s Christchurch Coastal Path route through Steamer Point Woods to Highcliffe Castle’s wooded cliff.

With a huge sum of money being spent on restoring the castle zig-zag, part of the existing coastal path, it would seem sensible to avoid change. This would be within the spirit of the legislation for a continuous coastal path.

The report claims that proposals would extend the national trail eastwards along the entire Dorset coast for the first time. This is only technically true.

The Bournemouth Coast Path and Christchurch Coastal Path have existed for over twenty years contributing to the vital link between the Dorset Coast Path and the Solent Way.

Bournemouth and Christchurch clifftop paths are recognised as the E9 European Coastal Path.

The consultation is open until Wednesday 16 August. Documents may be viewed online or at main public libraries along the coast.

The final proposals will be submitted to the Secretary of State Michael Gove who must confirm or vary the route in the light of objections.

The coast beyond Chewton Bunny to Milford-on-Sea which has crumbling cliffs, and may be subject to roll-back proposals, is being surveyed by another team which has yet to report.

Poole Bay

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Highcliffe Castle zig-zag consultation

Highcliffe’s coast path

The Highcliffe Castle cliff zig-zag has been closed again for sometime.

Christchurch Council has allocated an astonishing £280,000 towards the rebuilding of the path which is part of the Christchurch Coastal Path.

Consultation sessions for users are being held at two clifftop buildings.

The first is at Highcliffe Castle on Thursday 13 July from 3pm to 7pm.

The second is at Greystones in Walkford Road on Saturday 15 July from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

Afterwards the council plans to feed views into the design process and complete
work by April next year.

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Bournemouth Coast Path: A top UK walk

The Bournemouth Coast Path is more popular than The Pennine Way, The Three Peaks and The Thames Path according to a new poll.

A thousand British walkers were asked to name their best loved walk.

Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express which commissioned the poll, says: “Summer is here and there can scarcely be a better way to make the most of it than by getting out and exploring the great outdoors.

“From the drama of England’s highest mountain to the buzz of city streets and the quiet beauty of the countryside there’s something for everyone on our list, regardless of whether you’re feeling adventurous enough to tackle an entire route or want to enjoy a small section.

“Our countdown is a stunning showcase of the very best Britain has to offer and we hope it inspires people to put their best foot forward this summer.”

Number one walk is the South-West Coast Path which joins the Bournemouth Coast Path.

Cumbria’s Coast to Coast is joint number eight with Bournemouth.


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Highcliffe Castle cliff path now closed for a year

Christchurch Council has confirmed that the cliff path from Highcliffe Castle will remain closed all year.

Retaining walls have weakened and the situation has become worse following dry weather which may have caused cliff falls elsewhere.

Design preparation and the work on site may mean that the path does not open until June next year.

Diversion Walkers on the Christchurch Coastal Path should leave the castle grounds by the front gate and turn right at the main road. Go right into Wharncliffe Road and after the road has turned left go right along a footpath leading to the cliff top.

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Rogation & Ascension customs observed

Rogation Sunday will be marked this Sunday 21 May at Mudeford with the traditional Blessing of the Water at 3pm.

Mudeford’s Priest in Charge Helen Griffiss will be rowed out from the quay into The Run where she will throw a cross into the water and bless the sea.

The fishermen look ahead to a good harvest of Christchurch salmon.

This is an old Mudeford custom and reflects similar annual rural events at this time of year.

New Custom

A new custom it seems might be being born for Ascension Day which falls just after Rogation. This day is highlighted in various places by annual beating the bounds and tower top singing.

But on the coast path it is to be marked on Sunday 28 May at Hengistbury Head.

Parishioners from St Joseph’s Church in Christchurch will walk to Hengistbury Head by way of Wick Ferry with others invited to joining them.

The main meeting point is Wick village by the ferry point. The route is then to Hengistbury Head via the Visitor Centre.

At the viewpoint there will be a brief prayer and reading of the scripture story of the Ascension of Jesus followed by a shared lunch. Anyone can bring  picnic and join in.

A return to Purewell is planned by way of Mudeford Ferry.


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Barton-on-Sea to Hordle path closed

A cliff fall has resulted in the closure of more coast path.

An unexpected fall just west of Beckton Bunny at 5.30pm last Tuesday has led to fears of more to come if wet weather persists next week.

Closure was already in place east of Beckton Bunny to the start of Milford-on-Sea cliff top due to falls at Hordle last year.

Now there is closure from Barton-on-Sea to Milford-on-Sea cliffs with no access at Taddiford Gap.

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Shelley Park cafe opens

The Shelley Cafe is now open from 10.30am until 3pm.

The cafe is part of the theatre in the Shelley Park clifftop mansion.

Brownies, biscuits and flapjacks were on the counter this morning.

This will be the heritage place to stop off and have refreshment on the coast path at Boscombe once lunches and longer opening hours are introduced later this summer.

Shelley Park was the home of the son of poet Percy Shelley and writer Mary Shelley. Sir Percy Shelley and his wife Jane kept PB Shelley’s heart, snatched from cremation on Viareggio beach, in the north-east upstairs room.

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