CD#14 – Summer visitors

A comma butterfly – one of our many summer visitors

Have you noticed that it has got a little hotter recently? If you haven’t, well done. You must be sitting in the shade somewhere. If you are a hardy individual and are tempted to brave the heat, now may be an excellent time to enjoy a trundle around the Castle estate.

Yellow rattle

Guy, the Castle’s Head of Grounds, recently got in touch with The Drum about some of the interesting visitors to the grounds we have been welcoming in recent weeks – and not of the human kind! Here’s Guy’s update on what you may be able to see on your estate travels.

“Thanks to the glorious weather the Estate Team have been busy mowing and strimming around the grounds. However, the summer is the best time to see the fruits of our labour from the previous winter’s work.


(Left to right: common spotted orchid, plant and flower, yellow rattle)

On a short walk with keen naturalist Ian Standivan, we identified a fantastic array of the wildlife that benefits from our work on the estate. These include dragonflies (broad bodied chasers); mammals (pygmy shrews); birds (goldfinches, whitethroats, blackcaps, chiffchaffs,great spotted woodpecker, long-tailed tits, coal tits, reed warblers, garden warblers, mallards, moorhens, swallows); butterflies (common blues, meadow browns, small tortoiseshells, red admirals, white admirals, painted ladies; moths (silver Y).

(Left to right: ragged robin, knapweed and mallow)

The wild flower meadow is starting to show great signs of improvement and species diversity and, with ongoing work, we hope it will develop year on year.

Foxglove regeneration

Through the woodland thinning we are now seeing some fantastic signs of regeneration with elder hazel, honeysuckle, bluebell, wood anemone and foxglove making a strong appearance in the understorey.

Later in the summer we hope to start a barn owl ringing program to keep track and monitor breeding barn owls on the estate.”

Bumblebee feeding on common vetch


So now is your chance to grab your Spotter’s Guide to… and head off into the meadow and woodlands!

All photos in this post were taken by Guy.

»Publishing hot topics since January 2017«


CD#13 – Welcoming Hugh to the Castle Community

Hugh Horton
Hugh Horton, our new Vice Provost and Executive Director

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Hugh Horton to the Castle Community this month. On 12th June Hugh will be joining us as Vice Provost and Executive Director. Many of you will already know Hugh, as prior to being appointed our new VP&ED, he has for a number of years been our academic liaison with main campus and has made regular visits to the Castle.

You may have had a chance to meet Hugh when he last visited us briefly in April, and shared with us his vision of the future BISC. If you did not get the chance to chat to Hugh first time round, then now’s the time to brush up on your ‘elevator pitch’, as Hugh will no doubt be taking every opportunity to chat with his new colleagues and to find out how the organisation functions and what we all do! If you, in return, want to know a little more about Hugh and his journey to becoming VP&ED at the BISC, you can visit his current web page or, better still, ask him!

We know Hugh’s first few days with us are going to be busy, so if you don’t have a chance to deliver your carefully prepared pitch on day 1 (or 2 or 3), don’t despair. There will be opportunities aplenty in the six weeks Hugh will be on campus this summer. From 22nd July Hugh will return to main campus for a brief spell, and then will be back with us at the end of August to take up permanent residence before the start of Fall term.

I’m sure you will be happy to echo the The Drum when we say, ‘Welcome, Hugh! We look forward to working with you.’”

»Drumming in the changes since January 2017«

CD#12 – The shop finds new purpose

You are no doubt familiar with ‘The Shop’ behind Chestnuts tea room. It has been there for a number of years, and has taken on several guises – originally a gift shop for tourists, it was then transformed into a book store for students. Since April 2016 it has had a sad existence, acting as a storeroom for secondhand books or standing empty. But no longer!

The shop has been transformed into an art gallery, Castle Arts, offering for sale the work of local artists, including some from the Society of Eastbourne Artists. The artists, both amateur and semi-professional, have come together to create a wide range of paintings and craft items which will appeal to many different tastes. Landscapes, abstracts, glass work and paper crafts are all available at affordable prices.

This weekend the Gallery will be open for the first time as part of Castle Connections, when we celebrate the Castle at the heart of the community. Do visit and have a look around – you may even be tempted to buy something. As you can see from the photographs, you may not recognise the place!

As mentioned, Castle Connections is this weekend. Don’t forget, entry to this event is free to you as a member of the Castle Community. Come and discover the ways in which the Castle is involved with its community and take this opportunity to find out more about the roles of the many organisations that work alongside us.


»A work of art since January 2017«


CD#11 – Library opening 24/7 from Summer term

From the beginning of next term the Library will be extending its opening hours to 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And no, they are not recruiting a small army of librarians to staff the desk around the clock. Instead they are buying just one machine – a self-issue machine (SIM). The new machine will sit in the corridor between the two Library rooms, and will be awake and willing to issue a book whenever it is called upon to do so.

Practically there will be a few changes to how the Library operates once the SIM is installed. The most obvious will be the change to the Library’s staffed hours. From Monday 8th May regular staffed hours will be 9.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Thursday, 10.00am to 5.00pm Friday, and unstaffed at the weekends. There will be a staff presence in the Library the weekend before the start of classes each term, as this is a busy book-buying period, and as you know, our campus bookstore The Book Stack runs out of the Library.

The other significant change will be that you will no longer need a key to get into the Lending Library ‘out of hours’. This is because, firstly, there will no longer be such a thing as ‘out of hours’ and, secondly, both Library rooms will simply require a code to enter (and it will be the same code for both doors). The books and DVDs in both areas will be available to borrow 24 hours a day, with a few exceptions. ‘But what’s stopping the books just disappearing off the shelves without being issued, if both rooms are essentially unlocked?’ we hear you ask. Along with the SIM comes a new set of security gates and CCTV. If anyone inadvertently tries to leave the Library with an item they’ve not formally borrowed, the gates will alert the Library team, and they’ll be able to track the book down using the gate record and the CCTV. All very hi tech.

‘So, if you have a new machine, why do we need librarians any longer?’ you may well also be asking. While the new machine will be very good at issuing books, and even accepting them back (assuming you press the right buttons and can remember your PIN!), it’s not so good at ordering books, cataloguing them, making sure they are available on the shelves, answering student queries, explaining search skills and directing students to information online, checking reading lists, scanning items for onQ, running a bookstore selling books and stationery, and restructuring and cataloguing the Archive – in fact there are quite a few tasks that, put simply, the SIM is rubbish at. And for this reason, the Library team of Sarah, Louise and Jean will continue to be part of the Castle community for some time to come.

»Written by a human since January 2017«

CD#10 – Celebrate with the Musicians in Residence

Diana and Shelley with the Symphonova in 2016
Diana and Shelley with the Symphonova in 2016

You may have heard already the exciting news that Diana and Shelley have been awarded a significant grant from Bader Philanthropies. This is also the year in which our Musicians in Residence are celebrating 20 years at the Castle. The Castle Drum caught up with Diana, and asked her to tell us more about some of their many achievements in the past two decades…”

20 years ago this fresh-faced young Canadian couple arrived at Herstmonceux Castle with their two little boys. Opera singer Diana Gilchrist and pianist and conductor Dr. Shelley Katz thought that Queen’s University at the Castle would be an excellent platform to engage in musical activities with students and the local community. They were looking for some balance to their busy international careers and Herstmonceux seemed the perfect family base. So it proved to be. They are still here, celebrating their 20th anniversary with a grant from Bader Philanthropies to continue bringing musical enrichment to the BISC and wider community.

Diana performing at the 'Prom'
Diana performing at the ‘Prom’

The Musicians in Residence have offered a variety of musical events and experiences over the years, for students and community. One of the most exciting early concerts was an open air ‘Prom’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – complete with fireworks. Shelley led the lucky Summer Term students and the audience singing, while Diana featured as soloist providing her own vocal pyrotechnics!

Ladies Chamber Choir rehearsal in the ballroom (2012)
Shelley and the Ladies Chamber Choir rehearse in the ballroom (2012)

For several years, top international performers joined Shelley and Diana in their Castle Concert series. The concerts were hugely supported by the local community and often played to wonderfully appreciative, sold-out audiences. The new Bader Philanthropies grant will facilitate a welcome re-launch of the Castle Concert series.

A highlight of each term is the chance for students, staff and faculty to sing in a choir. Choir and various other ensembles perform at the Castle, in the community and further afield, sometimes partnering with other institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford. Over the years, concerts have included major works, such as the Mozart, Brahms and Fauré Requiems.

A visit to the Symphonova research facility (2013)
A visit to the Symphonova research facility (2013)

Shelley, who holds a PhD in Music Technology, develops cutting edge inventions which he uses in research, demos, concerts and recordings. When students visited his lab at the University of Surrey they got to try their hands at conducting, using a digital wand. One especially talented violin student was able to trial a concerto with Shelley’s digital orchestra technology.

Glyndebourne Opera House

As well as providing students with opportunities to participate in exciting UK cultural events, Diana and Shelley also take students and staff to off-site performances. Over the years, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival has generously given tickets to summer dress rehearsals. Diana’s opera trips to this iconic venue typically include prep lectures and ‘posh picnics’. Other favorite cultural highlights each year include going to London to see operas, ballets and concerts.

The Musicians in Residence are delighted that the very generous Bader Philanthropies grant will enable them to continue offering concerts, lecture-recitals, masterclasses, choir trips and a wide variety of musical events designed to enrich the Herstmonceux Castle experience.

Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (2012)
Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (2012)

Watch out for the re-launch of Castle Concerts this coming autumn –  Saturday, October 14th in the ballroom!

»Celebrating successes since January 2017«

CD#9 – BISC tips

If you could offer new students one piece of advice for their time with us, what would it be?

Isabelle Brent, Student Success Coordinator, is compiling a list of ‘BISC tips’ for inclusion in a new academic planner which will be provided to all incoming students in September. The tips will be used as page headers and are intended to support students throughout the year.

Your tips for the students don’t necessarily have to be practical. They can also be inspirational, supportive, or motivational. All tips should be relevant to the students’ experience at the BISC though for example their life at Bader Hall, travelling in the UK or Europe, or getting the most out of their studies.

To submit a tip, please email Isabelle on

»Sharing words of wisdom since January 2017«

CD#8 – Castle Connections coming soon

East Sussex Falconry

On the weekend of 20th-21st May we will be celebrating the work of those who ensure Herstmonceux Castle occupies a place at the heart of our community. For two days, societies, associations and charities with whom the Castle has some form of connection will be showcasing their work to visitors at this event. So often, the work of the those connected to the Castle is known to just a few, and this event is the chance to raise awareness among all who work at or visit the Castle. For example, did you know that we work alongside local beekeepers and have beehives on site to encourage ecological diversity?

Eastbourne Beekeepers Association

The societies so far signed up include Forest School, Archers of Herstmonceux, the Eastbourne Beekeepers Association, Bexhill 100 Motoring Club, Knights of Herstmonceux, East Sussex Falconry. And there are so many more! All activities on offer, such as the archery, are included in the entry fee.

To ensure that the weekend is a success we are seeking your input. Are you a member of a society or association which would relish the opportunity to share their work with the wider community? If you are, and you can commit two days to the event, we would love to offer you a stand.

Bexhill 100 Motoring Club

The purpose of the event is to celebrate and support the work of the community of which the Castle is part, so there will be no candy-floss or cake stands, but if you work alongside, say, horses at a local horse sanctuary and you want to sell badges in support of your charity, then we would support that.

To request a stand at this event, please contact Julie Ryan on or ext. 4470. We look forward to seeing you there!

»Connecting all at the Castle since January 2017«

CD#7 – Just like a bus…

Buses. You wait for ages and two come along at once! Well, it seems TV programmes featuring our favourite Castle are no different.

So, did you catch the stunning performance of Herstmonceux Castle in yet another TV programme? If you missed it, here’s a quick heads-up about the programme, which is due a repeat but is also featuring on BBC iPlayer, Gravity and me: the force that shapes our lives. It’s a documentary about, well, gravity (the clue’s in the title), but this is the gravity of the everyday rather than of the impenetrable academic textbook.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili
Professor Jim Al-Khalili

The presenter is Professor Jim Al-Khalili, a physicist well known for his ability to help non-scientists connect with science (if you need proof of this, you can borrow some of his titles from the Library). Because gravity affects how much we weigh, our posture and height, Jim plus volunteers spend part of the programme finding out ‘where in Britain gravity is weakest and so where we weigh the least’. One way to lose a few pounds before the chocolate spree and stand a little taller – wherever it is, we are tempted to move there!

If you missed it first time round, the programme is being shown again this Sunday (2 April) on BBC4 at 10.00pm. If that’s a little late for you (and for some of us it is!), it’s also on iPlayer for 1 month, so you have a little bit of time to see the Castle in action once more.

»Gravitas, levitas et scientia«