Highcliffe & Barton on Sea

Overlooking the entrance to Christchurch Harbour, Mudeford is a sleepy fishing village with great charm and history. Its old fishermen’s cottages and historic Haven House Inn were linked with smuggling enterprises in past times.

In 1784, a skirmish between bootleggers and Customs Officers took place near Mudeford Quay in what became known as the Battle of Mudeford. Hannah Seller was the Haven House Inn landlady at that time and the pub was used to provide cover for the smugglers. One Customs officer was killed and one of the smugglers was later executed for the crime.

Bure Homage House was built in the early 19th century by Sophie Dawes, daughter of a famous smuggler and known for her scandalous lifestyle. All that remains today are the Bure Homage Gardens and lodge house. The delightful All Saints Church was built in 1869 by the owner of Bure Homage House, Mortimer Ricardo.

In 1801, George III visited Mudeford and used a bathing machine to enjoy the local waters.

Present day Mudeford, situated on the River Mude, is still at the centre of the local fishing industry with lobster pots piled up along the quay, an authentic working dock at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour which is known as “The Run”, a calm area of water for enjoying sailing and windsurfing.

The ferry runs from the Quay to neighbouring Christchurch and to Mudeford Sandbank, a spit of land adjoining Hengistbury Head popular with beach lovers.

Highcliffe, just four miles out of Christchurch is the most easterly parish in Dorset, although, it was originally in the county of Hampshire. This award- winning floral village has a wild slipping short cliff down to the sea, with wonderful coastal views across to the Isle of Wight. Its peaceful coastline is only a few minutes walk from the bustling village centre and its unspoilt beaches are a great place to unwind.

Highcliffe Castle

Perched high on the cliff top above is Highcliffe’s jewel in the crown, the magnificent Grade 1 listed mansion, Highcliffe Castle. The Castle is arguably the most important surviving house of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture, which flourished at the end of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th Century.

The Castle was built in its enviable position between 1831 and 1836 by Charles Stuart, who later became Lord Stuart de Rothesay. The Castle replaces the original High Cliff Mansion which was built in 1775 by Lord Bute, Stuart’s grandfather.

Today Highcliffe Castle is a popular visitor attraction, exhibitions and events location and provides many activities for all to enjoy and houses a Heritage Centre, gift shop and is fully accessible throughout.

Drive east from Highcliffe, follow the sign to Barton on Sea and a few minutes later the visitor

will be rewarded by the Cliff House

Restaurant – Bar – Rooms, perched in a cliff top location and enjoying breath-taking panoramic views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, Bournemouth Bay and the Jurassic Coast beyond.

The Cliff House offers a welcoming and relaxed approach, whether you fancy a coffee, light lunch, three course meal or drink with friends


Hurst Castle

on the terrace. Exciting lunch and dinner menus using locally sourced produce provide delicious food & mouth-watering desserts that are both unmissable and memorable.

This summer, why not visit ‘The Gin Tin’; a converted vintage horse box serving a fantastic selection of G&T’s, draught beers, wines and soft drinks. Enjoy your drink with stunning views; it is well worth a visit.

Barton is notable for the many fossils to be found in the Barton geological beds in the cliffs, as well as for the elaborate sea defences built to defend the cliffs against coastal erosion. As a settlement, Barton has a history dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, although the modern village was largely built in the 20th century and is effectively a part of New Milton.

18 The Tourist Handbook Wessex 2018-19

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