Highcliffe Castle’s Selfridge exhibition

Last week I was reading Selfridges magazine devoted to the store’s centenary so it was very interesting to be able to visit the Gordon Selfridge exhibition at Highcliffe Castle this morning.

It opened this weekend and I spent an hour enjoying it.

There is much new material about the years 1916 to 1922 when the castle was Gordon Selfridge’s country home. The show is staged by Ian Stevenson who has some good contacts and was responsible for last year’s exhibition on the Kaiser.

Selfridge lived in Portman Square near his Oxford Street store but fear of Zeppelin raids made him rent the castle. He was still an American so the US flag was flown from the roof.

Local connections are interesting. His guests included Sir Ernest Cassel who lived to the west at Branksome Dene.

Selfridge was very rich and bit like Robert Maxwell. Part of the display concerns Selfridge’s plans to build “the biggest house in the world” on Hengistbury Head. Fortunately he ran out of money.

In Highcliffe’s churchyard there are three Selfridge tombs. The one for his mother is a delicate tomb chest. His wife Rose has a an angel. But Gordon Selfridge’s is plain with just his name for at the end he died in poverty.

It was good to find the church open and be able to view the memorials to the famous people who lived at Highcliffe Castle. St Mark’s is open most days but not Wednesday afternoon.

Admission to the Castle is £2.60.

It was cold and briefly rainy today so I warmed up in the Avon Beach Cafe. The coffee was astonishingly good.

Pages 53 to 54 & 67 to 69.

About Leigh Hatts

Leigh Hatts is an experienced walker and has known the local coastline since childhood. He is the author of many successful walking guides.
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