Herstmonceux Castle

[Herstmonceux Castle]
Herstmonceux Castle. Photo by Lucy Carnaghan.


[Herstmonceux Castle]
Herstmonceux Castle

Late in the 1980s, one the university’s most generous benefactors, Alfred Bader, Sc’45, LLD’86, spotted a real estate advertisement in The Times. A castle in East Sussex, south of London, was for sale. When his wife Isabel balked at the idea of moving into a castle, Dr. Bader’s thoughts turned to his alma mater in Kingston.

Herstmonceux was a product of Norman England, begun in 1441 by Sir Roger Fiennes on a license granted him by King Henry for his service in the French wars. Fitfully constructed over the next century, the castle was built of brick (and is now the oldest such building in Britain) and sat in a sprawling forest estate. A moat, central courtyard and 140 rooms completed its medieval splendour. Rumours of a giant, headless apparition haunting one of its rooms added a gothic touch.

Debts and dynastic problems resulted in the castle falling into ruin by the 19th century. Better-heeled new owners in the early 20th century saw the castle restored under the skilled eye of architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. In 1935, Country Life magazine described the castle as “a spectacle that for sheer breathtaking glamour is not to be surpassed in Europe.” In 1946, the British government purchased it as the home of the Royal Observatory. The Sussex night sky was perfect for stargazing. But when urban sprawl in nearby towns spoiled that sky, the castle was put up for sale in 1989. Dr. Bader purchased it soon after.

[The Baders at Herstmonceux]
The Baders at the opening of Herstmonceux.

Would Queen’s, he asked Principal David Smith, be interested in Herstmonceux as a new European campus? Principal Smith, and his successor Bill Leggett a year later, saw Herstmonceux as a unique and generous opportunity at a time when the world was globalizing and demanding that students look and think beyond national borders.

The Board of Trustees approving a loan to finance the start-up, and in July 1993, the castle in England became Queen’s the location for Queen’s new International Study Centre. By 1994, students could take courses ranging from art history to international commerce. The academic courses of study on offer there have continued to expand since then.

The Baders made a subsequent donation to fund further restoration and for the construction of a residence.

In 2009, the centre was renamed the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in honour of the Baders.

In 2022, the BISC was renamed Bader College.

[Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader at Herstmonceux]
Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader at Herstmonceux Castle. Photo by Andrew-Hanson Alamy Stock Photo