Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Teaching at the Herstmnceux Castle

After more than 20 hours of travelling, I finally arrived at the HerstMonceux Castle on May 26th to start my teaching at the International Study Centre (ISC) of Queen's University (Canada).

Here's a bit of the history of the Castle from ISC's website:

The rich history that surrounds Herstmonceux Castle and the impressive structure of the Castle itself offer special appeal for students participating in ISC programs. In fact, the area shows evidence of prehistoric activity dating back as far as the Paleolithic period, over 20,000 years ago.

Herstmonceux’s Written History
The Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, occurred just a few kilometres from the Saxon village of Herste and changed the course of world history. The first written evidence of the existence of the Herste settlement appears in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book which reports that one of William’s closest supporters granted tenancy of the manor at Herste to a man named ‘Wilbert’.

The Herstmonceux Name
By the end of the twelfth century, the family at the manor house at Herste had considerable status. Written accounts mention a lady called Idonea de Herste, who married a Norman nobleman named Ingelram de Monceux. Around this time, the manor began to be called the “Herste of the Monceux”, a name that eventually became Herstmonceux (pronounced Herst-mon-soo).

Herstmonceux Castle Estate
A descendant of the Monceuxes, 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, 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. Today it is the oldest brick building of any note still standing in England. The castle was built of brick, a highly unusual material for the time in Britain, and the builders of Herstmonceux Castle concentrated more on grandeur and comfort than on defence to produce a truly magnificent estate. The property passed through the hands of a number of private owners until it was sold in 1946 to the British Admiralty, which bought the estate for the Royal Greenwich Observatory. The site served as an important scientific institution for over 40 years. The estate still provides housing for the Newton Telescope and the Equatorial Telescope Buildings, which have been converted to an interactive science centre for schoolchildren.

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