The Castle’s first daffodil has braved a peek at the world outside, which means that spring is (hopefully) just around the corner. We’ve certainly had our fair share of inclement weather in these parts, and that has presented something of a challenge for Guy Lucas and his Gardens & Grounds Team.
“I suppose there are some that might argue working in the constant pouring rain is character building,” says Guy, “but on the whole it has just presented us with plenty of opportunities to spend some much-needed time in the potting sheds and polytunnels.”
The Castle, Gardens and Grounds open to the public on Saturday 15th February, so for Guy and his team, the hard work is far from done.
“We are racing towards our public opening and the start of the growing season.” says Guy. “When not avoiding torrential rain storms, we have been planting around 12,500 bulbs and bedding plants, using a mixture of Tulips, Hyacinths and Forget-me-nots to help provide a vibrant mix of pastels all the way from March through to May.”
On the wider estate, this will be the first year that the large expanses of grassland will be managed as wildflower meadow. Contrary to popular belief, this does not simply involve the Gardens & Grounds Team neglecting their mowers. They have been busy flail collecting, putting the sheep out for grazing, seed harvesting, weeding, scarifying and sowing – all in an effort to give these meadows the best chance of establishing themselves and becoming as diverse as possible. Not only does this improve the biodiversity of the flora and fauna across the estate, but these fields of wildflowers should hopefully be exceptionally pleasing on the eye between June and August.
The meadows won’t be the only new feature on the estate. Guy’s team are working towards the completion of a brand new garden (previously known as the ‘Japanese Garden’), which is tucked away between the Shady Garden and the Apothecary Garden. If this still doesn’t ring a bell, then fear not. The area was largely inaccessible during most of 2019, while a war was waged on a forest of bamboo in the area. The project should be well underway in the early part of spring however. A herringbone brick courtyard will be laid, with a central octagonal pond and an attractive perennial herbaceous border.
As readers of The Castle Drum will have no doubt noticed on their commute to the Castle, the playground equipment at the corner of Halley Drive and Bradley Road has been removed. A new play area will be created between Chestnuts Tearoom and the Nuttery late this spring. It will be built from all-natural resources, to align with the estate’s commitment to using sustainable materials. The focus will be on imaginative play, so the team will be using trails and obstacles, tunnels, mounds, trees and dens, with activities designed to channel childrens’ creativity, imagination and sense of adventure.
The playground is sure to be a huge hit for the families using Chestnuts Tearoom. The Castle Drum also has exciting news on that front. Renovations are now complete, with a new servery layout - designed to improve queuing time - and some attractive new customer seating. The Castle Drum is delighted to be able to announce a soft launch for faculty and staff from 2pm to 4pm on February 11th.
”We welcome feedback on the new menu of course,” says Enterprise Director, Julie Ryan, “ but the soft launch is also a great opportunity for our Chestnuts staff to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and practice serving a hungry crowd of customers.”
» Re-leafed to see Spring again since January 2017 «
You may have heard already the exciting news that Diana and Shelley have been awarded a significant grant from Bader Philanthropies. This is also the year in which our Musicians in Residence are celebrating 20 years at the Castle. The Castle Drum caught up with Diana, and asked her to tell us more about some of their many achievements in the past two decades..."
20 years ago this fresh-faced young Canadian couple arrived at Herstmonceux Castle with their two little boys. Opera singer Diana Gilchrist and pianist and conductor Dr. Shelley Katz thought that Queen’s University at the Castle would be an excellent platform to engage in musical activities with students and the local community.They were looking for some balance to their busy international careers and Herstmonceux seemed the perfect family base. So it proved to be. They are still here, celebrating their 20th anniversary with a grant from Bader Philanthropies to continue bringing musical enrichment to the BISC and wider community.
The Musicians in Residence have offered a variety of musical events and experiences over the years, for students and community. One of the most exciting early concerts was an open air ‘Prom’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – complete with fireworks. Shelley led the lucky Summer Term students and the audience singing, while Diana featured as soloist providing her own vocal pyrotechnics! For several years, top international performers joined Shelley and Diana in their Castle Concert series. The concerts were hugely supported by the local community and often played to wonderfully appreciative, sold-out audiences. The new Bader Philanthropies grant will facilitate a welcome re-launch of the Castle Concert series.
A highlight of each term is the chance for students, staff and faculty to sing in a choir. Choir and various other ensembles perform at the Castle, in the community and further afield, sometimes partnering with other institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford. Over the years, concerts have included major works, such as the Mozart, Brahms and Fauré Requiems.
Shelley, who holds a PhD in Music Technology, develops cutting edge inventions which he uses in research, demos, concerts and recordings. When students visited his lab at the University of Surrey they got to try their hands at conducting, using a digital wand. One especially talented violin student was able to trial a concerto with Shelley’s digital orchestra technology.
As well as providing students with opportunities to participate in exciting UK cultural events, Diana and Shelley also take students and staff to off-site performances. Over the years, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival has generously given tickets to summer dress rehearsals. Diana’s opera trips to this iconic venue typically include prep lectures and ‘posh picnics’. Other favorite cultural highlights each year include going to London to see operas, ballets and concerts.
The Musicians in Residence are delighted that the very generous Bader Philanthropies grant will enable them to continue offering concerts, lecture-recitals, masterclasses, choir trips and a wide variety of musical events designed to enrich the Herstmonceux Castle experience.
Watch out for the re-launch of Castle Concerts this coming autumn - Saturday, October 14th in the ballroom!
»Celebrating successes since January 2017«
On behalf of everyone at The Castle Drum, welcome back and all the best for the year ahead! We’re already nine days in, so chances are we vaguely recall making a new year’s resolution to be more active, but haven’t done anything about it yet and there’s still some chocolate at the back of the cupboard that isn’t going to eat itself… But great news! The Castle Drum is pleased to announce a fantastic opportunity to stretch your legs and raise funds for an outstanding cause to boot.
On Saturday 16th May, Herstmonceux Castle will be the start and end point for a 10K Night Trek in aid of Chestnut Tree House.
Chestnut Tree House is a charity that provides end of life care for children and their families, both in hospices and in their own homes. This incredible charity offers bereavement counselling, short breaks, sibling support and more, for the families of around 300 children and young adults with progressive life-shortening conditions across Sussex and South East Hampshire.
On 16th May, the charity expects hundreds of participants will strap on head torches, fairy lights and glowsticks, to complete the 10K under the night sky. Volunteer marshals will light the way and shine beacons at various waystations along the route to ensure that no-one gets lost. We also hear that there may be a medal and a glass of bubbly for all who complete the course.
The Castle’s Parade Square will be transformed into a Trek Village with registration desks, physio tables, event merchandise, refreshments and most importantly of all – plenty of glowsticks!
Book your place before Tuesday 31st March 2020 to get the early bird rate of just £20 per person, but be quick! Registration for the event closes on Friday 1st May 2020.
This is a perfect opportunity to get fit, challenge yourself (and any friends you wish to drag along for moral support) - all while raising money for a fantastic local charity.
You can read more about the incredible work of Chestnut Tree House here.
» Stomping through the night with The Proclaimers on a loop since January 2017 «
Queen’s University’s new Principal, Patrick Deane, visited the Castle this fall to represent Queen’s University at the special memorial concert for Dr. Alfred Bader. It was his first official visit to the Castle since his appointment as Queen’s University’s 21st Principal and Vice Chancellor. The Castle Drum took the opportunity to catch up with Principal Deane before he left, so that he might introduce himself to the faculty and staff and also share some insight into his vision for the future of the BISC.
CD: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your journey to becoming Principal of Queen’s University?
PD: Typical of people of my position- I wasn’t trained to do this work. I came into it by a series of unplanned routes that were taken. I’m a South African by birth, and it was my intention to become a lawyer, specifically a human rights, or constitutional lawyer, because of the period in South African history. I grew up in a time of apartheid and I was an undergrad at the time of the Soweto riots, so during that time I acquired a very powerful sense of the role of education institution in advancing social justice causes.
My university refused to enforce the rules of apartheid. It was bastion of protest against that government. I do remember the Vice Chancellor presiding over protest meetings on campus in full academic dress which is what he had to do to comply with the Riotous Assembly Act of that time, which outlawed any displays of resistance by more than 2 people, and I remember thinking, “There is a really extraordinary contribution being made to society by an educator”. After the riots, the government was returned with an even greater majority, so I left the country. I had a Canadian passport because I have a Canadian mother and a South African father. Intended to finish my law degree, but never did. I followed my other love of literature.
I became an academic and was a professor at the University of Toronto for 14 years or so. It was there that I became interested in academic leadership. I wasn’t conscious of that Vice Chancellor’s earlier impact as an undergrad, but I ended up taking a job as VP Academic at Winnipeg. That had never been the plan! I became acting president very quickly. During those years, I came to understand how important leadership is. I was recruited for VP Academic at Queen’s in 2005. My love of the work and sense of its importance deepened. I built a very powerful relationship with the institution. By 2010 I began to be aware of another role in that would be interesting - that of presidential functions. A role was offered at McMaster – and I had 8 successful years there and learned a lot.
And was it a wrench to leave Queen’s?
Most certainly! I didn’t expect to return. I had bonded with the institution in a way that took me by surprise. I am deeply committed to this work, and in its highest form, I do think the education and development of young people, advancing the boundaries of knowledge – there is no higher calling in life. I’m still keen to keep doing this I was delighted when the opportunity to return to Queen’s came up. So, the three things; my pre-existing love of the institution, my experience there, and my understanding of what Canadian institutions need to succeed, now much deeper and more nuanced than it had been 10 years before, made me think I could actually be useful at Queen’s.
Can you tell us about your first visit to the Castle?
That first moment when you first come down the hill and catch sight of the towers is actually quite magical. There’s a crude expectation that the Castle will be an elevated and imposing structure. It’s actually the opposite. It sits in a valley and makes it a much more humane kind of setting - one of the things that makes it suitable place for the purpose it currently serves - more of a home than a place of defence. It has that historical charm obviously that all the students enjoy, but it is nevertheless a home of sorts and I think that human dimension was what I was struck by the first time and remain very aware of whenever I’m here. It is extraordinary. I can only imagine what it would be like to work in a place with such a sense of history.
While you’ve only had a chance to pay a flying visit this time, could you give us some impressions of the changes you’ve seen at the Castle since you were last here as VP (Academic) about 10 years ago?
It’s difficult to say, as I’ve only been in the job a few weeks, but ten years on, I think much of it feels very familiar – the intimacy of the place, the solitude with which work is done here, and yet the interaction with history is all the same. The student body seems less international than it was which I’m sure is related to complex factors outside the university such as immigration etc. I have always been aware that there will be a consistency to what happens here because of the ethos and mission of the place, but there will also be changes that are driven by context and politics. Some of the changes I’m sensing are related to that - changes in ways students want to learn and need to learn - changes in pedagogical issues and students’ assumptions and aspirations.
I spend a lot of my time trying to work out about what students want from their education. I think the culture at large is trying to convince students that they should have narrow goals and those goals should be focused on employment and acquisitional skills. That’s definitely not what this place exists to do. There’s a larger vision that the BISC is here to advance. I regard it as a travesty that the culture as a whole is encouraging young people to construe their futures in such a narrow way and that they are being told (whether by families, by government or business leaders) that there are certain skills worth having and others that are irrelevant. That’s nothing less than a tragic disservice to young people.
As my daughter has always pointed out to me, “Life is not a dress rehearsal. You have one shot at it.” What a place like this needs to and has indeed been doing, is encourage students to expand their horizons and be open to many new possibilities for themselves – and more than that to have goals that excel the self- goals that are not just about having a good job, but goals for society - communal aspirations - goals for a world they want to inhabit, and the world they want to make.
Could you share a fondest memory, or perhaps offer a few words about the legacy of Alfred Bader at Queen’s University from your perspective?
I remember him with deep affection and admiration. One of my fondest memories was my last year at Queen’s in my old position. I remember speaking with Alfred at Isabel’s 80th birthday. We had some long conversations about the Castle – its potential and his vision as he had first conceived it. I also regard that vision as critically important, valuable and necessary to be preserved. The international dimension of what Alfred imagined for this place remains critical for the way in which I see our future. He was extraordinary. His contribution to the Castle is incalculable and he has facilitated something here that has had a profound effect on many students lives enormously.
When Alfred conceived this place and offered it to David Smith, he was light years ahead of his time. At the time as a whole, Canadian institutions had a rather parochial world view, largely unconcerned about international engagements. He was so far sighted. Almost no other Canadian university was thinking in terms of establishing a beachhead across the Atlantic and fostering a capacity for global activity and engagement on the part of the student– bringing students together under the aegis of this notion of global citizenship. Now it’s commonplace.
What part could, or should the Castle play in Queen’s International Strategy?
The Castle needs to be at the very front of Queen’s international strategy. We have an asset which very few Canadian universities can boast of. We have a point of confidence. It’s a beachhead. And so, we need to have developed for ourselves an integrated vision of what we want to achieve in terms of internationalization. We ourselves need to get over the challenge facing the government and get beyond thinking it’s just about mobility. One of the beauties of the Castle and something it has done from the very beginning is that certain courses here should look different to a similar course in Canada.
The ELO program at the Castle is wonderful because it’s making use of the Castle’s location and access to primary sources. It’s that idea that the content of properly internationalized higher education will change in response to its international context – to me it’s critically important. We’ve been doing it here for years. The goal of internationalization is not just mobility - It’s about transforming the parameters in which students imagine their futures and understand the subject matter.
Our 25th anniversary celebrations marked an important milestone for the BISC. For the benefit of the current staff and faculty, can you speak a little to your thoughts on what the next 25 years at the Castle will hold?
My aspirations for the Castle are inseparable for the conversation we have just had. Like it or not, globalization has a pernicious dimension. Despite the recent surge of nationalism, the world is a much more fluid place. There’s no going back on Alfred’s original vision which is an education that is suffused with global awareness in which trans-cultural skills are not just something nice to have, but assumed to be utterly essential to the education of any person wanting to be an effective contributor to human prosperity and well-being.
The future of the Castle has to be an intensification of everything that has gone before. We need to refocus on the outcome that Alfred was envisioning and marshal the resources of the Castle toward that. In a structure like this, you’re reminded that 25 years does not make education at the Castle a mature thing. However, we’ve learned a lot and everything we’ve learned, situated in an integrated international philosophy, has the potential to be hugely successful. We need to get away from the notion that the Castle is just a smaller version of main campus – it has a much more focused mission.
What I would hope for is a much clearer alignment of the BISC towards a well defined aspirational goal – tied up with the cultivation of global citizenship, awareness and agency in young people. I’d also like it to be a focus for international research exchanges, collaborations and conferences. We should continue to be a place where professional faculties come to bring the people within those faculties into an international context. It’s that fulfillment of the mission of this place. The importance of Alfred’s vision needs to be restated.
» Probing like Paxman since January 2017 «
If the mere title of this edition of The Castle Drum has you scratching your head, then fear not! In this issue we will do our best to break down the BISC Visual Identity – what it is, why it is essential and most importantly of all, where you can find the resources you need to get on board!
First up, some clarification of terms. A visual identity can be likened to a visual brand, so when we use the term ‘BISC Visual Identity’, to a certain extent we should really be thinking of our brand identity.
When we namedrop companies such as Apple, Nike or Sky, what immediately springs to mind? Chances are, the first thing that will pop into your head will be a logo, then perhaps a slogan, or maybe even a jingle from a TV advert. This instant brand recognition is not something that can be created overnight. A brand is something that is built slowly over time and so it must be earned before it can be owned. Our brand is the collective result of every BISC communication, opportunity-to-see and soundbite as experienced by others.
So now we come to the BISC. Just what is the BISC’s Visual Identity? When we set out to create a BISC brand, we are essentially waving our hands around and asking to be noticed in all visual elements that are used to promote the BISC. This means that our visual identity is more than just a snazzy logo – it is the combination of every opportunity to see a business card, piece of headed notepaper, rack card, T-shirt, webpage, email, or absolutely anything else we put out in the public domain.
But why is it important? Well, our visual identity can be likened to our virtual personality. It’s our chance to make a first impression on people, to stand out from the crowd and it’s a visual cue that signifies that whatever follows will (hopefully) exemplify the values and core messaging of the Bader International Study Centre. If you prefer an analogy, it’s the uniform we wear to signify that at any given moment, we are speaking to our audience on behalf of the BISC.
The how is the tricky part, so this is where the buy-in of everyone at the BISC is absolutely essential. To be successful, our visual identity needs to be consistent. A consistent visual identity is the vital first step in establishing a coherent message across all our marketing materials. It’s worth bearing in mind that absolutely everything we put out into the public domain has the potential to be a marketing tool – we’re not just talking posters and flyers here!
The BISC Visual Identity consists of some basic colours, font styles and design elements created to keep everyone at the institution on the same page. The more this palette is used, the more we all contribute to the creation of a cohesive, BISC-branded package. Consistent use of the BISC Visual Identity will help increase awareness of the BISC because the more places it is featured, the more opportunities there will be to see it, and the more memorable it will become. It’s a rolling snowball effect, and the BISC’s Visual Identity is admittedly only at the top of the hill at the moment, so it will need a gentle nudge!
The BISC website has all manner of downloadable materials for you to use in your day to day tasks. If you are not sure you will find a use for all the materials in one fell swoop, that's fine, but please bookmark the page for future reference as our style will inevitably evolve and new templates will be added from time to time. All materials are stored behind your regular login on the staff and faculty homepages.
Thanks for reading. In this particular instance, don’t stand out from the crowd! Working together, we can maximise the impact of the BISC brand in an increasingly competitive academic marketplace.
» Just doing it and helping you work, rest and play since January 2017 «
Today we are proud to announce the completion of the new Science Lab on Maskelyn Road. (Hands-up who actually knew it was called Maskelyn Road?) Situated on the site of the old Physics Lab, next to the David Smith Building, (you know, the one on Maskelyn Road?) this stunning new facility will be the new home for Science students at the BISC. If like us, you’re itching to have a nose around and see what the men and women in high-vis vests have been up to, then we have some great news for you - Sarah Butler has offered to host two drop-in sessions and give guided tours of the facility. Absolutely everyone is welcome, no appointment is necessary, but please wipe your feet to keep it looking as pristine as possible!
Satisfy your curiosity on Friday 24th May between 10.00am and 12.00 noon, or Thursday 30th May between 1.00pm and 3.00pm. For those that can’t wait, here’s a couple of teaser pictures to whet your appetite:
The new Science Lab (the building’s formal name is still tbc at the time of writing) will be the focal point of Science at the BISC, but it will also play an important role in the Castle’s ongoing remit to engage in community outreach projects. In partnership with our local branch of Men’s Sheds, the labs will provide arguably the most state-of-the-art ‘Shed’ for many miles around.
The 'wet' lab can comfortably accommodate 24 students at a time. Biology and Chemistry practicals will take place here.
Men’s Sheds is a charity organisation which aims to provide the means for local men to meet, make connections and indulge in a shared passion for woodworking, mechanics, mending, whittling and all manner of other activities that are traditionally the domain of the garden shed. While these hobbies are usually solitary in nature, Men’s Sheds seeks to create quite the opposite – a sense of inclusivity and togetherness. Its members are given a place to meet up, share practical skills, swap knowledge and chat with like-minded tinkerers. In this way, the charity builds communities and reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Members of the Herstmonceux branch of Men’s Sheds share a passion for woodworking and will be given access to the large, wide-open space adjoining the lab on fixed days of the week. (Exact schedule tbc, but when we know, you’ll know!) They will work on their own projects and create items that are then sold to raise funds for the charity, as well as be on hand in this maker-space to assist BISC students with their own hobby projects, or practical scientific assignments. For more information about the charity's work, visit the Men’s Sheds website.
» UnabaSHEDly chipper since January 2017 «
Cast your minds back to the summer of 2016. The Olympics took place in South America for the first time in Rio, grown men and women crossed busy motorways on foot in pursuit of elusive Pokémon and the UK bookies lost an absolute fortune on something called ‘Brexit’. (Apologies, I’m sure you vaguely remember the term, but it’s so long ago now that The Castle Drum concedes that some of you may have to Google it.)
In the summer of 2016 the BISC also welcomed USSRF students to the Castle for the first time. Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships, to give them their full title, are an opportunity for undergraduate students at Queen’s to develop their research skills under the guidance of a faculty researcher. Over the course of this particular summer, the BISC hosted two such students, who worked closely with our Archaeology professor, Amelia Fairman.
The USSRF students were aided by an SSHRC grant from Queen’s. (Pronounced ‘shirk’). The acronyms are flying thick and fast in this article, so for the uninitiated, this grant was courtesy of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a funding agency for her Majesty’s Government in Canada. The SSHRC recognises that pure science alone cannot solve the challenges of the 21st century, and only innovative, collaborative research will lead to knowledge that will change the world.
The students were attached to a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant which provided seed money to develop the formal partnership agreement signed between Queen’s University, ourselves, The University of Waterloo, and St. Jerome’s University. The purpose of the project was to explore the impact of climate change upon the fourteenth and fifteenth-century estate of Herstmonceux, and to gauge its impact on everyday life.
Fast forward five hundred years or so and climate change is very rarely out of the news, but did you know that Herstmonceux Castle’s history and indeed its entire raison d’etre is linked to a climate change disaster?
We know that Herstmonceux was farmed from Anglo-Saxon times, throughout the Norman Conquest and until around the late 1300s. Records show that after the year 1250, global temperatures cooled dramatically due to an expansion of north Atlantic ice around the same time. For decades East Sussex was hammered with the most torrential rains and storms that battered the land, causing terrible floods. In 1341 for example, nearby Hooe lost 400 acres of farmland and in 1375 the whole of Herstmonceux was completely waterlogged, leading to grain shortages and famine. Scientists estimate that in total, the county of Sussex lost over 10,000 acres of arable land to the flooding.
For the peasants struggling to work the remaining land in Herstmonceux, the decision to build the Castle in 1440 provided opportunities for work and an alternative livelihood. When Sir Roger Fiennes then received permission from the crown to crenellate his manor, there was further good news when it simultaneously expanded the estate of Herstmonceux to 600 acres by royal decree. A massive enclosed, private deer park was created, providing a life-saving boost to the local economy, and essentially turning Herstmonceux Castle into a resort destination for the rich and famous of the day.
Brief history lesson over. But what of today? Three years on from the original SSHRC grant, the research partnership goes from strength to strength. Acting now under the name ‘Environments of Change’, and boasting not four, but thirteen partners, this interdisciplinary collaboration uses Herstmonceux Castle and the surrounding area as a focus for some truly remarkable research. Cutting-edge technology, such as digital mapping and 3D modelling is being used to research how factors such as historical weather patterns, climate change, and access to water have shaped how people lived.
The Castle Drum thoroughly recommends a visit to their website: http://medieval-environment.com/, where the eagle-eyed will also note that one of the research partners is none other than ex-BISC Scholar in Residence Dave Brown, whose digital expertise was the subject of CD#18. Virtual archaeology will play a major role in the future research plans and examples of what can be achieved can be seen here with this fantastic 3D model of the Castle:
We sincerely hope the rest of the Castle community is as flattered as we are that our little corner of East Sussex is garnering such scholarly (and international) interest! The research carried out by Environments of Change will not only provide a better understanding of the history of Herstmonceux, but ultimately provide agencies with vital information concerning the history of climate change in Europe that could influence policy makers in the UK and EU.
» Inexpicably getting away with spurious segues such as Pokemon Go into Climate Change Research since January 2017 «
In 1980, The Buggles famously sang, “Video killed the Radio Star”. Such lies! The Castle Drum can name not one, but two utterly vivacious radio stars in our midst at this very moment.
This January, FILM 104 prof Rob Hyland launched a new Castle initiative, called PODCASTle - a weekly online podcast detailing news and happenings on our Castle campus. At approximately 12 minutes running time per episode, it was created to give students something quick and easy to listen to on their daily commute to and from the Castle.
Rob will be keeping the content of these podcasts quite simple – the format will follow that of a typical magazine show. Each episode begins with the news headlines, updating listeners on what is happening on campus and in the context of the UK as a whole. These could include upcoming events, guest speakers, or a national holiday, but could also include a selection of topical British and Canadian news items that will resonate with the students.
The PODCASTle then moves to an interview or discussion with a member of the Castle community to highlight their work, or recent achievements. Rob is also aiming to conclude each episode with some sort of literary component – which could be in the way of an audio recording of the Castle Reads chosen text, a poem or short story that connects to the topics of the week, or an audio recording of a recent student work.
Rob will constantly be on the lookout for new content – so if students, staff or faculty have anything they would like to contribute – whether it be an interesting factoid discovered on a recent ELO, or an update on their current research focus, for example, then he would love to hear from them. Of course, for legal reasons, The Castle Drum should point out that the contents of their discussion may be recorded.
Next up, our ENGL 100 prof Peter Lowe has been contributing to an online digital art project called Placecloud, which also went live towards the end of January. Peter answered the call for volunteers for the project and has already produced several short podcasts about points of interest all over London.
Placecloud uses GPS co-ordinates to anchor 5-minute audio recordings to specific places, so listeners can hear quick, interesting facts and background stories about places that might not necessarily feature on the sort of open-topped bus tours that have become the norm. Peter has complete freedom to pick his own places of interest, so he has been using the opportunity to research areas of London that pique his curiosity.
“When we scratch beneath the surface, there are often interesting histories behind even the most unassuming buildings,” says Peter. One of Peter’s recent podcasts features the Quo Vadis restaurant in Dean Street in Soho. “There has been a strong Italian community in Soho since the 1920s,” Peter recounts. “Staff at the Italian Embassy socialised in the area after work, but while the politicians laughed and joked in the restaurant, I discovered that just a few yards away, the owner of the nearby King Bomba grocery store is believed to have directly funded not one, but two assassination attempts on former dictator Benito Mussolini.”
The Castle Drum has been reliably informed that recording just a few minutes of stutter, stumble and cough-free audio narration can take many hours of toil, so please visit the links below and show Rob and Peter your support.
» A face for radio since January 2017 «
You are no doubt familiar with 'The Shop' behind Chestnuts tea room. It has been there for a number of years, and has taken on several guises - originally a gift shop for tourists, it was then transformed into a book store for students. Since April 2016 it has had a sad existence, acting as a storeroom for secondhand books or standing empty. But no longer!
The shop has been transformed into an art gallery, Castle Arts, offering for sale the work of local artists, including some from the Society of Eastbourne Artists. The artists, both amateur and semi-professional, have come together to create a wide range of paintings and craft items which will appeal to many different tastes. Landscapes, abstracts, glass work and paper crafts are all available at affordable prices.
This weekend the Gallery will be open for the first time as part of Castle Connections, when we celebrate the Castle at the heart of the community. Do visit and have a look around - you may even be tempted to buy something. As you can see from the photographs, you may not recognise the place!
As mentioned, Castle Connections is this weekend. Don't forget, entry to this event is free to you as a member of the Castle Community. Come and discover the ways in which the Castle is involved with its community and take this opportunity to find out more about the roles of the many organisations that work alongside us.
»A work of art since January 2017«
By Barry Howse:
The Castle Grounds
The Estate Team have had a productive winter with the usual seasonal tasks of hedge cutting, pruning and leaf clearing, whilst also making time to enhance and develop other areas.
This year we have increased the size of the wildflower meadow, putting in new gates and a stile allowing ease off access and more space for native wild flowers.
Before the dormice began to hibernate in October, we carried out a dormouse survey which we will be continuing over the coming years, to monitor their population.
Several deer exclosures have been erected around the estate. These are 4m x 4m fenced off plots that will exclude deer from grazing in these areas. This will allow us to monitor and compare the intensity of grazing and the effects it has on the plant communities.
In some areas we have been focusing on the reduction of conifer tree species, to encourage uptake and development of native hardwood trees and increase flora and fauna diversity through increased light levels in the woodland. We are embarking on the final stage of forestry commission conservation work to reduce the amount of rhododendron ponticum – an invasive non-native plant with allelopathic and disease-carrying properties. Areas of woodland have been restored to their pre-Victorian state to enhance ground flora and enable the woodland to begin the recovery phase of its life cycle.
After many years of service and countless amounts of footsteps, the bridges and steps in the woodland have been renovated, largely using materials sourced from the estate.
We hope to add a labyrinth/maze in spring this year, located in the field at the east gate of the Rose Garden. It will be a trial at first, being mown in and marked with rope and posts. If successful, this will be something we can develop the following year. During your visits this summer you might notice the estate team has grown, incorporating some new members of the mowing fleet. We hope to use a number of our winter resident sheep to graze some of the amenity lawns and cut down on the amount of mowing needed around the estate.
Along with all the other winter tree work undertaken by the Estates Team, it was a sight for sore eyes to see the removal of a leylandii screen previously known as ‘The Stage’. This has opened views of the newly created 'Autumn Colour Avenue' mentioned later in the Gardens section. In this area we will install a curved bench for visitors to enjoy the picturesque scenery, with several cherry blossom trees either side leading on from the apple orchard.
The Victorian Cascade is a hidden rough jewel of the estate to the east at the back of the Folly Pond. It has been left to gather silt and stagnate for many years, but following an ecological survey, we are now able to restore this feature to a cascade once again.
The Castle Gardens
The dry and sunny start to the New Year is certainly helping us with the winter tasks in the gardens.
Since the end of October, we have been busy finishing hedge cutting – which we managed to complete in record time by the end of November. Bulbs have been planted in the Elizabethan, Sundial and Rose and Shakespeare Gardens. We also made a start on the massive task of mulching the gardens in the autumn. Thanks to the large compost bays built by the Estate Team in 2017, this year most of the gardens will be lucky enough to be mulched using 'home-produced' compost, or leaf mould.
Largely due to kind donations, new tree planting has been possible this winter. We hope that the 'Autumn Colour Avenue' along the slope in front of the Magic Garden will be a riot of colour this year.
In the Apothecary Garden, the soil has been replaced in all the planters along with the gravel. We are continuing to develop the planting in the Lower Garden and new, butterfly-friendly plants will be added this winter and spring.
We are now in the process of winter pruning, with the wisteria and climbing roses already complete and we look forward to the shrub roses in February.
In the meantime, we will begin cutting back the perennial plants, dividing and weeding – the warm weather has certainly kept the weeds growing – ready for mulching the borders. If this summer is as hot as last year, then mulching will be even more crucial for the plants.
We have improved the accessibility in the Elizabethan Gardens this year by creating a path around the steps to the Rose Garden, meaning visitors will be able to enjoy the whole of the Elizabethan Garden without going back on themselves.
We will be replacing the Boules court with a bench/picnic area this coming spring to provide a quiet, comfortable place to relax and take in the surroundings.
»Laying the groundwork since January 2017 «