Highcliffe Castle in Dorset, is set to receive a grant of £2.9m from the Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF), including an initial development grant of £233,100.
The initial development grant is designed to fund the costs associated with working the ideas into a fully costed and workable management plan and to fund a public consultation as part of the initial process.
The project, titled The Phoenix Files, plans to use the grant when awarded to fund further repairs [at the Castle] and to reopen the Penleaze wing which is still derelict inside. This wing is planned to house a dynamic Heritage Centre for visitors to discover the fascinating story of this magnificent building and to display the Castle’s collection of stained glass.
David Hopkins, Highcliffe Castle Manager said: “The HLF has agreed our ideas in outline form. It is now saying that, provided we can prove that what is planned is what the public want; and that it is viable and sustainable in business planning terms; then the grant will be made and we can start building in 2016. So in order to test our ideas on the public and to establish if anything else should be included, we are hosting a series of special public consultations. The first consultation starts on Sunday 15 February and runs until 29 February and will enable visitors to the Castle to contribute. This involves looking at the proposals in picture format, reading about them and then commenting.” There will be more opportunities to contribute throughout the early part of 2015.
He added: “Our Plans for the Castle involve participation at all levels, we want staff and volunteers to engage visitors of all ages in activities relating to the heritage. A priceless collection of medieval stained glass that belonged to Lord Stuart de Rothesay will be conserved and displayed within the Castle with visitors able to observe the conservation process first hand in a conservation studio that we wish to include.”
The project also plans to receive back on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum, key pieces of the original furniture, and to display them within the building; also, to conserve the Victorian kitchen and create a dynamic study centre. The grounds will also benefit from the grant, and there are plans to improve the parkland including more interpretation of the influence of Capability Brown.
In order to discuss these proposals and maybe suggest a few of your own ideas, please visit Highcliffe Castle in the next week or so and have your say by taking part in the consultation.