Located within the beautiful East Sussex countryside, the moated 15th century Herstmonceux Castle, one of the oldest brick buildings of note still standing in the country, is the centrepiece of a 300-acre estate. Beyond the formal and themed gardens, there are woodland trails, meadows, and lakes which, as a result of sympathetic management, provide a haven for a variety of flora and fauna.
A popular tourist destination for both UK and international visitors, the gardens offer a variety of settings, including Elizabethan, Rose and Sundial, Shakespeare, and Apothecary. Beyond these are a lakeside Folly with its own cottage style garden, a wildflower meadow, and acres of natural woodland.
A brief history of the Castle
The castle was built in the mid-fifteenth century as a luxurious private home to reflect the wealth and status of its owner, Sir Roger Fiennes. Dismantled internally in 1776 when it was deemed too expensive to repair, the castle became the haunt of smugglers and then eventually a popular ivy-clad ruin during the Victorian era. By the mid-1930s it had been fully restored and was once again a private dwelling. It was sold to the Admiralty after WWII as the new home for the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
The Bader International Study Centre
The Herstmonceux Castle Estate was gifted to Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario by a former student named Dr Alfred Bader who thought it would be a good location for a UK campus. The first intake of students arrived in 1994 at what was later renamed the Bader International Study Centre in honour of its generous benefactor. The BISC offers both year and term-length programming for students at all levels of university study within the unique setting of a medieval castle and its tranquil surroundings.
The Observatory Science Centre
A short distance from the castle is The Observatory Science Centre. Since 1995, it has been operated by Science Projects Ltd, a company with educational charity status. This former home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory now offers hands-on science and discovery among the iconic green domes that still house some of the largest telescopes in the country.
More information about The Herstmonceux Castle Estate can be found on their website here.