Admiral William Cornwallis gave his fortune, house and name to a dynasty which included royalty and Churchill.
On Friday 5 July the seaside village of Milford-on-Sea will be marking the 200th anniversary of his death with a church service, window unveiling and Trafalgar news re-enactment.
Admiral Cornwallis’s tomb is near the church’s vestry door.
He is honoured for thwarting Napoleon’s invasion, saving Nelson’s life and playing a decisive role at the Battle of Trafalgar.
He settled at Milford’s Newlands Manor in 1800.
During the 1801 Christmas morning sermon, the church congregation saw through the north windows that Newlands was on fire and one by one people left until the vicar paused to ask where everyone had gone.
The admiral oversaw rebuilding in the gothic style and invited Captain John Whitby, fresh from taking news of Nelson’s death to Emma Hamilton, to live at Newlands and bring his family.
Soon after arriving Whitby died leaving his wife Mary Anne who eventually cared for the admiral. The mansion was inherited by Whitby’s daughter Theresa who married Richard West.
Their son Colonel William Cornwallis-West entertained the Prince of Wales, the Kaiser and Lillie Langtry who were all friends of his wife Patsy. Their son George shocked society by marrying Winston Churchill’s widowed mother whilst the daughters became the Princess of Pless and the Duchess of Westminster. The house is now apartments.
There will be celebrations on the green in Milford on Friday afternoon 5 July when a specially composed sea shanty called Billy Blue after Cornwallis’s nickname will be sung.
The Duke of Gloucester is visiting Highcliffe Castle on Thursday morning 30 May.
His Royal Highness, an architect, has paid several visits to Highcliffe Castle and has long taken an interest in its restoration.
Afterwards the Duke will be on the Christchurch Coastal Path when he opens the restored zig-zag link from the Castle grounds to the cliffs and beach. The ceremony is expected to take place at about 11.15am.
Council has now finalised its arrangements for the opening of our path. It will be opened on 30th May by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The Duke will start by attending a private function in the Castle; he will then walk to the top of the Path to perform the opening ceremony. Timings depend on how long he stays in the Castle but it is anticipated that he will open the path at 11.15 -11.30.
The retaining walls of the zig-zag are clad in reclaimed planks from Bournemouth sea defences.
Highcliffe Castle is preparing to welcome the Duke of Gloucester who will re-open the zig-zag, a vital part of the Christchurch Coastal Path, and open part of the castle never seen before.
HRH is due to visit on Thursday 30 May and as an architect he will probably appreciate the spectacular work revealed since his last visit in 2008.
Two floors of the Penleaze building are now open. This eastern wing is named after Dr James Penleaze who bought ‘High Cliff’ in 1799 having found a fortune in a hat box.
The downstairs rooms have been filled with fascinating information boards containing new research on the many past owners.
Upstairs a bedroom contains original furniture from the castle which has returned on temporary loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is also possible to enjoy the view from the Chinese bedroom.
The kitchen in the basement displays a recipe for Eel Soup. An unexpected find is the kitchen well which had been covered and forgotten after mains water was installed. You can again look down into the well and still see water.
The library now has its walls covered in pictures recording the ongoing restoration work.
In the Octagon Room, just inside the front door, there are more clear information displays listing such tenants as William Cavendish-Bentinck (1900) and Lord Rothermere (1910-1912).
The Tea Rooms accessed from the grounds has been under a new contract since 2017. Its best dish is probably Dorset Rarebit £5.75 but you may have to ask for it as the main menu is not displayed at the counter.
Highcliffe Castle is open 10am to 5pm; admission £7. The coast path runs through the grounds.
Lucinda Lambton has been on Bournemouth’s East Cliff to visit the Russell-CÃ´tes Art Gallery & Museum.
Her account appears in the January’s issue of The Oldie which is arriving in shops now.
In the magazine she describes the building, once home of Sir Merton Russell-CÃ´tes and his wife Annie, as “an almost lone survivor of a 19th-century British business bigwig’s house, that looks like an American robber baron’s mansion has been hauled across the Atlantic to be grounded on Bournemouth’s shore. What a joyful surprise!”