Highcliffe Castle welcomes all visitors but if you are a relative of the American magnate, Harry Gordon Selfridge, who lived at the castle between 1916 and the mid 1920s, then you are bound to get an extra special welcome. And that was what happened when Allison Selfridge visited recently.
She was greeted by David Hopkins, Highcliffe Castle Manager and two of the Castle’s volunteers who took her and her companion on a guided tour of the Castle before escorting her to view the Selfridge graves in the churchyard of the parish church of St Mark opposite the castle.
Allison carries the Selfridge name having been married to the late Oliver Selfridge (1926–2008), Mr Harry Gordon Selfridge’s grandson. Oliver was a computer scientist of world repute and credited with coining the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Allison worked as a copy editor in the Boston publishing House Little Brown and Co and currently lives in the USA just outside Boston.
Her purpose was to return to the castle and the Selfridge graves, both of which she visited last year. She was concerned about the poor condition of the graves given that they now receive so many visitors and has been influential in getting them restored. Funding was made available by the London store, Selfridges, which has also given Highcliffe parish church a donation for their efforts in recent restoration of the graves.
After her visit and in bidding farewell to the venue and staff, she said, “I do so admire you people who are looking after the castle, telling its history and bringing it back to life.”