Highgrove House - History and Facts | History Hit

Highgrove House

Amy Irvine

04 May 2023
Image Credit: Alamy / PA Images

About Highgrove House

Highgrove House has been a much-loved family home of King Charles III since he bought it in 1980, and is where he chose to live with Camilla, now Queen Consort, when he was the Prince of Wales. Highgrove lies two miles south-west of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England, in the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds.

Since moving in, Charles and his team of experts have famously transformed the gardens, creating a beautiful environment run according to Charles’s environmental principles.

History of Highgrove House

Highgrove House was built between 1796-1798 on the site of an older property, likely by local mason and architect Anthony Keck in a Georgian neo-classical style. It was owned by various families until it was bought in 1980 by the Duchy of Cornwall from Maurice Macmillan, son of the former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

King Charles was subsequently appointed a tenant for life of Highgrove by the Duchy, which also manages the estate and the nearby Duchy Home Farm. Upon its purchase, essential repairs and redecorations were carried out, and a swimming pool added – a wedding present from the British Army to Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1981.

Highgrove was initially occupied at weekends by Charles and Diana, and their two children – Prince William and Prince Harry – spent much of their childhoods there. (Butler Paul Burrell also served the family there before leaving with Diana in 1995, following the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage.)

In 1987, Charles remodelled the Georgian house with neo-classical additions, and throughout his time there, both the house and estate have undergone thoughtful innovations. In particular, Charles has devoted lots of time and energy into transforming the gardens. When he first moved in, Highgrove’s gardens were overgrown and untended, but they have since flourished – designed by Charles in consultation with highly regarded gardeners including Rosemary Verey and Miriam Rothschild. Within five years, Charles introduced organic farming on the grounds, and the estate gained full organic status in 1994.

Charles opened the Highgrove retail shops in 1992, and the gardens at Highgrove have been open to the public since 1996.

Highgrove House today

Today, the Highgrove estate has an interlinked series of gardens each reflecting the King’s interests and enthusiasms, and include rare trees, flowers and heirloom seeds. Organic gardening and lawn management techniques have also enabled the gardens to be a sustainable habitat for birds and wildlife.

Before he became King, Highgrove was Charles and Camilla’s private residence, along with Clarence House in London. Buckingham Palace is now King Charles and Camilla’s official London residence, and as Highgrove is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, control of the House was transferred to Prince William when his father acceded to the throne and he became Duke of Cornwall on 8 September 2022. However, the King and Queen Consort continue to lease the House from the Duchy to use as a country residence, and many charitable events continue to be hosted on the estate.

As the private residence of King Charles and Camilla, Highgrove House itself is closed to the public, but its extensive Royal Gardens are open to visitors for tours, receiving up to 40,000 visitors a year. One of the highlights is a colourful four-acre Wildflower Meadow, which features endangered native plants. Other highlights include an Arboretum, The Stumpery, The Cottage Garden, The Sundial Garden, and the Thyme Walk.

Visitors can also enjoy a cream tea in Highgrove’s opulent Orchard Tea Room and browse the Estate Shop for a range of artisan goods. All profits from the shop, garden tours and events are donated to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund. Around 180 chickens roam areas of the Estate and around 4,000 eggs are collected every year, which are then used in the Orchard Tea Room and sold in the shop.

In January 2023, it was reported that the Orchard Tearooms at Highgrove would be open to the public every Tuesday as a part of the Prince’s Foundation Gloucestershire Winter Warmers initiative to tackle loneliness and isolation in cold weather by providing warm spaces.

Getting to Highgrove House

Highgrove Gardens are located in Doughton, two miles south-west of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, off the A433 road to Bath. Highgrove is a 10-minute drive from the walking trails of Westonbirt Arboretum and Rodmarton Manor.

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