of Herstmonceux Castle
Castle, overlooking the Pevensey Levels, "was
built in 1440 by Sir Roger de Fiennes [otherwise
Fenys and Fynes], whose ancestor Sir John had early in the previous
century married the heiress to the estates, Maud de Monceux"
In its original state, Herstmonceux Castle was "one of the
earliest really ambitious brick structures in England" (2) - or
as J.R. Armstrong puts it, the Castle was "the first building
of any size to be built of [brick] since Roman
times" (3). Roman skills in brick-making lost under the Saxons
were reintroduced to Sussex, "probably under Flemish
supervision, for the building of Herstmonceux Castle" (4). Mark
Antony Lower says, "when in full repair [it] was considered the
largest private house in the kingdom" (5).
Peter Brandon calls the Castle one of the two "speciments of
feudal magnificence" in the County - the other is Bodiam Castle
- and "one of the stateliest and largest houses in the
kingdom": it has "quadrangular shapes with symmetrically
placed polygonal towers in each of the corners... be-pinnacled with
smaller towers and turrets at intervals along the curtain walls....
embellished with a noble gatehouse as the main front" (6). It
is, however, "altogether, in spite of its moat, its
battlements, and its turrets, a mansion rather than a
The "site lies very low" (Brandon) -
that is, in common with others of its time, it has no
"prospect". As Horace Walpole, seeing it as
something of a ruin, wrote to Richard Bentley on 5 August 1752,
"the building, for convenience of the moat, sees nothing at
Roger de Fiennes's son Richard, Sheriff of Sussex in 1452,
married Joan, heiress of Thomas, Lord Dacre, and was "in her
right... declared, in 1458, Baron Dacre of the South". Dacre,
whom Charles II made Earl of Sussex, lost the estates "by
extravagance and gambling" (9). It passed to George Naylor and
the Hare family, "whose members ranged from the eccentric to
the downright mad" (10). In 1775 it was considered beyond
repair and its interior was demolished, the materials used for an
addition to Herstmonceux Place.
In 1794, Robert Marsham wrote to Gilbert White about "the
magnificent beeches of Herstmonceux Castle... One beech
felled here around 1750 had run 25m to the first branch"
(11). There is a rare black gum tree (Eucalyptus aggregata)
east of the moat.
Restoration of the castle was begun in 1913
under Colonel Claude Lowther but "more seriously and indeed
exemplarily by Sir Paul Latham in 1933" (12). The architect was
W.H. Godfrey of Lewes. The original four courtyards were, however,
made into one.
(1) Judith Glover, Sussex Place-Names their
origins and meanings (Newbury: Countryside Books,
(2) Ian Nairn and Niklaus Pevsner, The Buildings of
England: Sussex (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1965),
(3) J.R. Armstrong, A History of Sussex (Chichester:
Phillimore, 1961; 4th edition 1995), 75.
(4) Kim Leslie and Brian Short, eds, A Historical Atlas
of Sussex (Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd,
(5) Mark Antony Lower, A Compendious History of Sussex
(Lewes: George P. Bacon, 1870), I. 254.
(6) Peter Brandon, The Sussex Landscape
(London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1974), 134, 135.
(7) Nairn and Pevsner, 534.
(8) Horace Walpole, reprinted in Thomas Walker Horsfield, The
History, Antiquities and Topography of the County of Sussex
(Lewes: Sussex Press, 1835), I.551.
(9) Lower, 255.
(10) John Godfrey, Sussex (London: Michael
Joseph, 1990), 98.
(11) Owen Johnson, The Sussex Tree Book (Westmeston:
the Pomegranate Press, 1998), 59.
(12) Nairn and Pevsner, 534-35.
CE Primary School
Herstmonceux Primary School
educates boys and girls aged between four and 11 years. There are 202
pupils on roll, which is about average for primary schools. The school
has similar numbers of boys and girls altogether, but there are 11
more boys than girls in Year 3. Twenty-three children attend full-time
in the Foundation Stage. The school has a waiting list for pupils to
enter some classes. There are 43 pupils on the school's register of
special educational needs, which is similar to the national
average.... There are no pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds....
There are no pupils who speak English as an additional language....
Approximately five per cent of the pupils are eligible for free school
meals, which is lower than the national average. ... [There is] a
higher than average rate of mobility amongst the pupils. The pupils'
attainment on entry to the school is above average, though the pupils
who are currently in the Reception class showed average standards when
they were tested shortly after starting school. May 2001
OFSTED Inspection Report © Crown copyright 2001
The School scored among the highest in England in the
Government-published league tables for primary
schools in 2000, with a perfect test record (300).
In March 2001 the School received a School
Achievement Award for substantially improved results between
1997 and 2000.
The May 2001 OFSTED Inspection Report
said, "This is a very good school.... Pupils' very positive
attitudes and behaviour help them to get the most out of school and
the very good relationships that exist help to create a happy school
where learning flourishes". To read excerpts from the
OFSTED Summary Inspection Report on the School, CLICK
David Calvert's Herstmonceux
Primary School 150 Years (1990, 38pp+8 pp of
photographs) gives the history of the school from 1839 to
1990. The chapter titles are "How it All Started" ,
"The Reign of Arthur Jones" [1902-15], "War and
After" and "Another War".
A few quotations from the first pages:
"In July 1839, the Rector of Herstmonceux, Julius Charles
Hare, Bought for £70 half an acre plot out of Danbie's field from
James Everest, the local brewer. ... Hare conveyanced the land to the
Rector and Churchwardens... 'for ever on trust', free of charge... 'it
having been proposed to establish a National School within the said
parish of Herstmonceux for the instruction of poor Children in general
knowledge and with respect to relgion in connection with the
Established Church of England and in the principles and discipline of
that Church...'". (p. 1)
"In the National School Enquiry of 1846/47, Herstmonceux
School had one classroom 'legally conveyed' and another 'virtually
secured'.... There were 41 boys and 47 girls attending weekdays and
Sundays. A further 20 boys attended weekday evenings only...".
"Attendance was the main point of concern throughout the
period [from 1888] up to the outbreak of the First World War. In a
rural area, pupils often had far to walk to school and bad weather
could markedly reduce the numbers...". (p. 3)
"Up until this time  the school was partly supported by
grants and subscription but some direct payment in the form of Pupils'
Pence was also required. However: '1891, August 31st - September 4th.
This week the children were admitted free as "Free Education
Act" came into force on Tuesday'".
LINKS TO PARISH WEBSITE:
history of Herstmonceux
vignettes from Parish Council minutes
Hundred of Foxearle
of Herstmonceux Castle
Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux
Science Centre & Discovery Park
Isaac Newton Observatory Trust plans
CE Primary School
village: history & environment
houses and cottages
Office in Herstmonceux
area & South East in Bloom Competition
Steam House (Lime Park)
Local Plan 1998 for Herstmonceux
of the Parish
buildings in the Parish
trees in the Parish
Windmill Hill Windmill
about Herstmonceux history & environment
& Wartling Research Group
INDEX A - Z
SHOW and GYMKHANA
VALLEY - EXCEAT
AND BOROUGH COUNCILS
COUNCIL - MUSEUM
- COSTS SCANDAL
THINGS TO DO GUIDE
BATTLE OF HASTINGS
MILL, OLD HEATHFIELD