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.’”
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.
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 communityfor some time to come.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Watch out for the re-launch of Castle Concerts this coming autumn – Saturday, October 14th in the ballroom!
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.
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 showcasingtheir 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?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 4470. We look forward to seeing you there!
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.
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.
This Friday lunchtime (17th March) Biology professor Sarah McKenzie will be leading a naturewalk through the Castle’s grounds– and she would very much like you to join her. The walk will wend its way via the Orchard up to the Ponds, where Sarah will talk to you about the wildlife lurking there and the ways in which the habitat is being managed. You will then follow the path to Birch Walk and then on to Chestnut Walk.
En route, with some luck (and a bit of stealth for the benefit of the more nimble inhabitants of our grounds) you will see butterflies, birds, evidence of the odd mammal (if you are really lucky, maybe even the odd mammal itself!), plus an assortment of fungi and flora. Sarah will help you identify the various species around you, and will explain how all you see before you lives harmoniously (or not so harmoniously) in their shared environment.
So, if you fancy a ramble in the sunshine (the weather forecast is currently sunshine, but, hey, who knows at this time year!), meet Sarah this Friday at 1.00pm outside Castle Reception. Wear some stout shoes (or wellies if the forecast is wrong and it tips it down!) and some sensible clothing, and you’ll be ready for anything.
The walk is scheduled to last 90 minutes, but if you can’t spare that amount of time, join Sarah for whatever time you do have and you can always ‘duck’ out when it suits you!
Some of you may remember the queue of people stretching across the South Gate bridge and encircling the Castle on a sunny day last March when keen individuals patiently waited to share their prized possessions with Paul Martin and his Flog It! team. We’re delighted to say that the episode recorded that day is about to make it to the small screen – and not just the one episode, but two!
Both episodes will be aired next week on Tuesday, 14th March at 4.30pm on BBC1 and on Friday, 17th March at 4.30pm, also on BBC1. If you are around, why not join us in the Conference Room at 4.30pm on Tuesday, when we will be celebrating the screening. Refreshments will be provided. All being well, the Castle’s performance on Flog It! twice in one week will tempt many more keen individuals to experience this spectacular location for themselves.
It was almost certainly the spellbinding nature of our location and the oft-heard comparison of the Castle to a famous fictional school for wizards that resulted in us hosting the Bothwell School of Witchcraft this August. For 3 days (11th to 13th August) budding witches and wizards will have the chance to role-play a character specially created for them based on their answers to a questionnaire when they register for the event.
With unique settings and story lines, the participants will be able to interact with other characters to contribute to an exciting adventure, as in popular murder-mystery weekends, (but this time with magic, and perhaps without the murder…) There has been quite a buzz on social media about this event and a number of news articles but, to find out what all the excitement is about, visit the School’s website. All we will say is, be prepared to see black gowns and wands aplenty for a brief ‘spell’ in summer!
On Saturday 4th March the Castle reopens to the public – considerably earlier than in previous years. In celebration of this event we thought you might like to learn a little about what has been going on in the Gardens and Grounds over the Winter months while the rest of us have been desperately trying to keep out of the wind and rain (and avoiding the chaos caused by Doris), although Gardener Supervisor Jackie does assure us that we had a mild, dry Fall – too long ago to remember!
You may have noticed that, despite this latest spell of rain, things in the borders have definitely shifted into Spring mode, with many of the herbaceous perennials already daring to show their green. This bravery is in part spurred on by the two truck-loads (18 tonnes) of compost that Jackie and her team have spread over the borders during the Winter.
Jackie, Tom, Fiona and George have also between them planted 3,000 bulbs, which should put on a fantastic display of colour soon. You probably will have also seen the Gardening team hard at work scarifying, pruning, dividing and generally renovating all round. This will have a huge visual impact as the plants are rejuvenated and reinvigorated, plus will provide sale items for the plant stall. No garden has been left untouched, with the Azalea, Elizabethan, Shakespeare, Butterfly and Folly gardens all undergoing some form of renovation. The Herb garden is next on the team’s hit list.
In the Grounds, Guy, Adam and Kallum have been keeping warm by renewing the chestnut fencing, using in part chestnut coppiced from the estate. Over the coming year they will be tackling the invasive and potentially disease-spreading Rhododendron ponticum, eradicating it from the estate. So much of the clearing work that the team has undertaken has opened up new vistas not seen for many years. For our younger visitors (and maybe the not so young too!) the Estate team will be devising a tree trail and an ‘I spy’ trail. We are sure they would welcome all who wish to trial the trails!
So, if you enjoy fresh air, tranquillity and a chance to escape your office once in a while, the fantastic gardens and grounds are there for you. And if you enjoy them, do spread the word – encourage your family and friends to visit too! As a member of staff or faculty you can bring up to four family members or friends into the gardens free of charge. You will also be able to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for friends and family, which means they can enjoy the Gardens and Grounds even when you are unable to be with them. And all we ask in return, is that you take with you on your travels a handful of our leaflets and leave them wherever they are likely to encourage others to visit the Castle!