HERSTMONCEUX VILLAGE & CASTLE

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Herstmonceux castle

History of Herstmonceux Castle

Herstmonceux 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" (1).

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 castle" (7).

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 all" (8).

Roger de Fiennes's son Richard, Sheriff of Sussex in 1452, married Joan, heiress of Thomas, Lord Dacre, and was "in her [sic]

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.

NOTES
(1)  Judith Glover, Sussex Place-Names their origins and meanings (Newbury: Countryside Books, 1997), 107.
(2) Ian Nairn and Niklaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Sussex (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1965), 50.
(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, 1999), 106.
(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.

 

Herstmonceux 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 HERE.

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...". (p. 2)

"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 [1891] 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:

brief history of Herstmonceux
Herstmonceux Parish
- vignettes from  Parish Council minutes
the name "Herstmonceux"
the Hundred of Foxearle
Herstmonceux Castle
History of Herstmonceux Castle
The Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux
Herstmonceux Castle today
The Science Centre & Discovery Park
The Isaac Newton Observatory Trust plans

Herstmonceux CE Primary School
All Saints Church
Cowbeech village: history & environment
Gardner Street
small houses and cottages
The Met Office in Herstmonceux
village conservation area & South East in Bloom Competition
Sussex trug baskets
the Steam House (Lime Park)

Wealden Local Plan 1998 for Herstmonceux
population of the Parish
listed buildings in the Parish
protected trees in the Parish
19th Century Photographs

Windmill Hill
The Windmill Hill Windmill
The Allfree School

more about Herstmonceux history & environment
Herstmonceux & Wartling Research Group

Varengeville-sur-Mer (Normandy)

 

 

 

 

SUSSEX INDEX A - Z

 

ARUNDEL CASTLE

BATTLE

BATTLE ABBEY

BATTLE OF HASTINGS

BEACHY HEAD

BEXHILL

BODIAM CASTLE

BRIGHTON

CHICHESTER

CHIDDINGLY - HORSE SHOW and GYMKHANA

CROWBOROUGH

CUCKMERE VALLEY - EXCEAT

DISTRICT AND BOROUGH COUNCILS

EAST SUSSEX
EASTBOURNE

FIRLE

FIRLE BONFIRE SOCIETY

GLYNDE

GUY FAWKES

HAILSHAM

HASTINGS

HEATHFIELD

HERSTMONCEUX - PARISH COUNCIL - MUSEUM - COSTS SCANDAL

LEWES

LEWES DISTRICT COUNCIL

NEWHAVEN

PEVENSEY CASTLE

RYE

SEAFORD

SEVEN SISTERS

SUSSEX

SUSSEX THINGS TO DO GUIDE

THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS

TRUGS

TWISSELLS MILL, OLD HEATHFIELD

UCKFIELD

WEALD

 

 

 

 

 

SUSSEX VILLAGES: interesting links and features of Herstmonceux in East Sussex