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Queens Castle in England

Coordinates
Type Tudor mansion
Site information
Owner Queen's University, Canada
Condition Intact, used as a study centre
Site history
Materials Brick

Herstmonceux Castle is a brick-built castle near Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England. From 1957 to 1988 its grounds were the home of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Today it is used by the Bader International Study Centre of Queen's University, Canada.

Significance[edit]

Herstmonceux Castle is one of the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England; brick was an unusual material for the time in Britain. The builders of Herstmonceux Castle concentrated more on grandeur and comfort than on defence.

Herstmonceux Castle is home to events throughout the year, including the annual England's Medieval Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend.

Early history[edit]

The first written evidence of the existence of the Herst settlement appears in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book which reports that one of William's closest supporters granted tenancy of the manor at Herst to a man named ‘Wilbert'. By the end of the twelfth century, the family at the manor house at Herst had considerable status. Written accounts mention a lady called Idonea de Herst, who married a Norman nobleman named Ingelram de Monceux. Around this time, the manor began to be called the “Herst of the Monceux”, a name that eventually became Herstmonceux.

A descendant of the Monceux family, Roger Fiennes, was ultimately responsible for the construction of Herstmonceux Castle in the County of Sussex. Sir Roger was appointed Treasurer of the Household of Henry VI of England and needed a house fitting a man of his position, so construction of the castle on the site of the old manor house began in 1441. It was this position as treasurer which enabled him to afford the £3, 800 construction of the original castle. The result is not a defensive structure, but a palatial residence in a self-consciously archaising castle style.

Floor plan of the original house; (l) ground floor, (r) first floor

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