Lord Stuart de Rothesay, (d. 1845) grandson of the 3rd Earl of Bute, (d. 1792), travelled througout Europe, Russia, The Netherlands, Portugal and Brazil, during his political career, giving him the perfect opportunity to indulge in his passion for collecting works of art. The building at Highcliffe was started in the early 1830s from Gothic style plans drawn up by the architect William John Donthorne, who worked with Jeffry Wyatt from 1817-20. The label with the Stuart arms which appears on the present table, is usually twinned with a heart-shaped label and probably refers to an inventory made for Sir Charles Stuart of his personal furniture in 1816. Highcliffe was completed in 1834 but Stuart was sent on diplomatic service in 1841, returning ill in 1844.
Highcliffe passed to the younger daughter, Lady Waterford in 1867, who remained there until she died childless in 1891. Her chosen heir, Edward James Montagu Stuart Wortley, was the son of her cousin Lord Wharncliffe and a direct descendant of Lord Bute. Their daughter, Elizabeth (Bettine) married the 8th Earl of Abingdon, who bought the castle from her father in 1928. Bettine was very active in fund raising for European refugees during the Second World war and seldom at Highcliffe. It was eventually sold to a Catholic missionary order and the contents were put up for sale by Christie's, 5-7 July 1949. The remainder of the collection, including Empire furniture and jewellery was eventually bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in the late 1980s. (S. Medlam, The Bettine, Lady Abingdon Collection, London, 1996, p. 19-41 and 48).