Herstmonceux was a significant place long before the Castle was built. There is evidence of prehistoric and Roman remains, and in the 12th century a Saxon lady, Idonea de Herst married a Norman nobleman, Ingelram de Monceux, to give the place it's name. The name of the owners changed through marriage into the Fiennes family, and the owners increased in wealth and power. Roger Fiennes distinguished himself fighting for King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, providing the king with eight men at arms and twenty four archers.
Sir Roger Fiennes went on to become Treasurer of the Household of Henry VI, and in 1441 began construction of the castle. This is one of the first major brick buildings (today it is the oldest brick building of any note still standing in England) and was years ahead of it's time in other respects, with concentration more on grandeur and comfort than on defence.
The family fortunes are interesting and varied, but in 1708 the last Lord Dacre, Earl of Sussex, was forced to sell Herstmonceux Castle. By the end of this century the owner, Robert Hare had demolished much of the interior and used the bricks to create a more fashionable residence, Herstmonceux Place, further up the hill.
The castle had fallen into ruin until 1910 when it was bought by Lt. Col. Claude Lowther who used local craftsmen to carry out the building work, and by 1912 most of the South front was rebuilt.
Col Lowther was responsible for much of the present design and for installing a number of pieces of fine woodwork and panelling purchased from other great historic houses in England, including Theobalds, the home of William Cecil, Lord Burghley.
After Col. Lowther's death in 1929, Sir Paul Latham contributed very greatly to the construction of the castle both internally and externally. In 1946 he sold it to the Admiralty who bought the estate for the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and it became an important scientific institution for the next 40 years.
In 1993 Herstmonceux Castle was acquired by Queen's University of Canada through the generosity of Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader, and is now an International Study Centre attracting students from around the world.
It was during a visit to their Sussex home that Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader chanced on an advertisement offering Herstmonceux Castle for sale, and their vision and support for the potential of the Castle taking on a new guise as an International Study Centre, bringing students from all over the world to study in the beauty and tranquillity of East Sussex countryside.