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Herstmonceux Castle & Gardens, Firle village & visit to Lewes friends

Updated: Jul 8

Day Six - Journey of Discovery in East Sussex

I booked Herstmonceux Castle gardens tickets online the day before. We entered the main gates at around 11am and motored down the sweeping driveway (passing the Observatory Science Centre on right, still closed to the public) to the car park in front of this magnificent moated red brick castle. What an awesome sight it was! Please study and read their website here Herstmonceux Castle. The Castle operates as an International Study Centre for Queen’s University in Canada. You can tell how excited Marcus and I were by just seeing our expressions taken as a selfie. We’re both fascinated by red brick castles and have wanted to visit the largest red brick century castle (13th century) in the world, Malbork of the Teutonic Order, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in north Poland. However, Herstmonceux is one of the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England, dating from 1441. Construction began under the then-owner, Sir Roger Fiennes, and was continued after his death in 1449, by his son Lord Dacre.

We entered the castle reception area to pick up our gardens & grounds layout map, and walked up the courtyard admiring the architecture, and into the Long Border and Rose Garden with Sundial. “The bust of Sir John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal and founder of The Royal Greenwich Observatory, stands in front of the large, central sundial.


Largely planted with David Austin modern “English” roses, within the beds can be found varieties of hybrid tea and floribunda shrub roses. Growing in frames and against three of the walls are climbing roses.” (extract from website).


I bent down to smell the first rose I encountered and was knocked out by its fragrance. It was called ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’. I then proceeded to sniff all the roses in the garden, and then was beautifully surprised to nose the climbing rose of ‘Claire Austin’. She was a knock out too! The whole experience made me feel like an orchestral conductor of Procol Harum's beautiful music and words with that first fragrance as lead-in. THAT rose, I decided, will be perfect for a middle section space in my Beeston garden. Let the garden art orchestra begin!


Please Click on the photo images to enlarge, and hover over to read captions. All photos are credited to Marysia Zipser unless otherwise captioned. My carousel photos you can stop and study at any time.

Journeying through all the section gardens and grounds alerted all my senses. The visual effects were tantalizing. All my photos of the gardens and grounds show my passion for all things garden art, landscaping and horticultural. Use them as a ‘journey’ and immerse yourself in their ‘stories’.

I joined up with Marcus at the garden exit and we ventured into the Visitor Centre to study the timeline of the castle and its owners. This explained everything in more detail as to who, what and why, the beginning to the present. As we walked back to the car, we glimpsed back at this beautiful castle, moat and setting, and sighed. Such an awesome experience, and I vowed to return next year and to visit the Observatory Science Centre.

We then motored onto the village of Firle. A Guide to Firle | Things To See and Do in Firle | Sussex This whole area boasts the finest arts, architecture, horticulture, landscaping and all cultures combined into a wholly magnificent history touring experience. Unfortunately Firle Place was still closed due to Covid19 and ‘Charleston’, the home of the Bloomsbury Group’s Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant was fully booked way ahead for garden visitors, so I vowed to return there next year, as well as nearby Glynde. We slowly veered into the village Inn’s car park, and then walked through, deciding it the perfect place to have our late lunch, after we’d explored the village and its church.

As I neared the church, I could hear piano music. I listened more closely at the Norman arched main door, tried to unlock the handle but it didn’t open, so we walked around to the side entrance and freely entered. A lady was practising her music pieces for two weddings and a funeral booked for the weekend. She looked up, stopped and spoke to us charmingly about the Church of St Peter. What a beautiful and calming interior. Marcus and I were fascinated by all the stained glass windows, Brasses, Vestry, Tombs and Chancel. All information is detailed in their church guide booklet and on the websites St Peter's Church | Church in Firle | Firle and West Firle – St Peter (Sussex Parish Churches)

Walking back along the attractive village street we headed for the The Ram Inn for welcome refreshment outside, sat down and talked. We had an afternoon tea appointment with friends at their house in Lewes so we embarked after half an hour. I’ll be back again to wander and study this delightful village and area.


After just ten minutes driving we were in central Lewes and parked in the street by my friends’ house. What a delightful time we had reminiscing, sat down at their large garden table, conversations flowing. Their place was like something out of ‘Country Homes & Interiors’ magazine (see left). After a time they then walked us down to the town’s Pells duck pond and showed us Pells Pool which is the oldest freshwater outdoor public swimming baths, or lido, in the UK that is still operating, its original structure being built in 1860. Awesome! Pells Pool . Then onward to view the River Ouse from the bridge across. Everything so serene. We returned to their house for final goodbyes, and drove leisurely back to John and Christine’s home at Bexhill...but I will return to Lewes at a later date to see so much more. Tomorrow, our last day, is to Folkington, Wilmington, the Long Man, Michelham Priory & Gardens.

I hope you enjoyed our Day Six. Please click the blue ‘Like’ button below and write me any comments if you so wish. Many thanks. Marysia Zipser Website ART - CULTURE - TOURISM - Home Facebook Art Culture Tourism - International - Home Facebook /marysia.zipser.7/ Twitter Art-Culture-Tourism (@MarysiaZipser) LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marysia-zipser- Email marysia@artculturetourism.co.uk