For the past 500 years and more people have been visiting Herstmonceux Castle to admire its impressive design, its unique brickwork, beautiful gardens and setting within the Sussex landscape. Its visitors include the likes of Horace Walpole, William Wilberforce, J.M.W. Turner, King George V, Virginia Wolf, Diana Cooper, Violet Bonham Carter, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Patrick Moore, Stephen Hawking and Queen Elizabeth II. It has attracted writers and artists, tourists and antiquaries, aristocrats and debutantes, soldiers and scientists. Today it continues to attract students interested in actively participating in a unique learning experience in an international setting.
|1441||Roger Fiennes, a Sussex Knight, petitions the Crown for the right to "crenellate" or fortify his manor Herstmonceux.|
|1541||Sir Thomas Fiennes, Lord Dacre, is tried and executed for murder, and robbery of the King's deer, after his poaching exploits on a neighboring estate implicate him in the death of a gamekeeper. The estate is confiscated by King Henry VIII.|
|1558 - 1603||Reign of Queen Elizabeth I - during which time the estate is returned to the Fiennes family.|
|1642 - 1651||English Civil War - renovations are carried out to the Castle and the extremes of the 1640s are avoided.|
|1660 - 1685||The Restoration Period - a significant amount of money is spent refurbishing the castle including new fireplaces and elaborate oak carvings by Grinling Gibbons.|
|1708||Excessive gambling, the cost of renovations, and the lavish merriment of the 15th Baron Dacre (heir to the Fiennes family) bankrupt the family and the estate is sold to George Naylor for £38,000 (approximately £4 million in 2018).|
|1777||Samuel Wyatt, a well-known architect, pronounces the castle to be in such a poor state of repair that it is not worth saving. Furniture is sold off, the wood paneling removed, and the interior walls torn down.|
|1910||The eccentric MP Colonel Claude Lowther purchases the estate with a view to restoring the castle to its former glory and creating a grand country home. Extensive restorations are undertaken and the southern half of the castle is transformed.|
|1933||Sir Paul Latham purchases the castle and the architect Walter Godfrey continues the process of reconstruction, completing the remodeling of the northern half of the castle. Extensive work is also undertaken on the gardens and grounds, with the addition of a tennis court, a swimming pool, extensive plantings and the excavation and flooding of the moat.|
|1939 - 1945||Second World War - during which time the Hearts of Oak insurance company relocates to the castle to avoid the Blitz in London. An RAF camp, part of RAF Wartling, is also established on the estate.|
|1946||Sir Paul Latham sells Herstmonceux Castle to the Admiralty.|
|1957||The Royal Greenwich Observatory is established at Herstmonceux.|
|1988||The Royal Greenwich Observatory moves to Cambridge and the estate closes.|
|1993||Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader purchase the castle and donate it to Queen's University - Alfred's alma mater.|
|1994||After extensive renovations the International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle opens to students.|
|2009||The ISC is renamed the Bader International Study Centre.|
The Friends of Herstmonceux Castle and the Bader International Study Centre
The Friends of Herstmonceux Castle and the Bader International Study Centre is an association of those with an interest in fostering links between the Castle, the students of the Bader International Study Centre and the wider community.
Originating from a time when the grounds were under threat from commercial redevelopment, the Friends quickly evolved to support the transition to BISC of Queen's University, Ontario and to be a link between the local community and the students, all of whom were a long way from home and most unaccustomed to the life and environment of East Sussex.
Today many students join in local activity and are invited to local homes for an afternoon tea, whilst the Friends of the Castle benefit from invitations to student and castle events.