near Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England
Herstmonceux Castle is set in an estate of parkland and Elizabethan gardens, 12 miles west of Hastings on the south coast of England.
The brick built Tudor castle gives the appearance of being built in the middle of a lake but in reality it is a very wide moat.
The two storey castle is approached over a brick built bridge with a gatehouse opening out into an internal courtyard. The castle walls have octagonal towers with projecting galleries at each corner, with semi octagonal towers in between. The castle’s gatehouse is set between two tall semi octagonal towers with a coat of arms above the entrance.
Today the castle is the home to the Bader International Study Centre; part of the University of Canada, however visitors do have the opportunity to see inside parts of the castle with a guided tour.
Tours giving an insight into life within the castle, tales of smugglers and family history are generally given once or twice a day between 11am and 2pm; visitors are requested to check as on some occasions tours may not take place.
Visitors are also able to walk though the castle’s gardens and woodland, stroll down to the lake and see the 1930’s folly. The castle also offers visitors a tea room, gift shop, visitor and science centre, nature trail and children’s play area.
The castle is also licensed for civil wedding ceremonies; choose from the ballroom suitable for up to 180 guests, the Dacre Room for up to 70 guests or for a small intimate ceremony the Elizabethan Room for 30 guests. All rooms are beautifully decorated and have their own theme.
Sir Richard Finnes; treasurer to Henry VI, started the brick built castle in 1441. The castle was not built as a stronghold more a luxury home and was kept within the family until it was sold by the Earl of Sussex in 1700. By the end of the century the castle had been demolished by its owner Robert Hare, leaving just the exterior walls, the other remains being removed to make a residence nearby.
It wasn’t until 1913 when restoration work was started by Colonel Crowther who transformed the castle back to one of the most significant and oldest brick buildings in England. After its restoration the castle passed through many hands and between 1957 and 1988 the grounds became home to the Royal Greenwich observatory. The observatory then moved to Cambridge but several of the telescopes remain at the castle today in the original buildings now called the Interactive Science Centre.
In 1994, after a long restoration process the castle became home to the Bader International study centre which is used by undergraduate law students.
Other Castles in the Area
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Camber Castle, East Sussex
Hastings Castle, East Sussex
Lewes Castle, East Sussex
Pevensey Castle, East Sussex
Scotney Castle, Kent