Herstmonceux Castle in old photographs (1850–1910)

Herstmonceux Castle has been described as the finest early brick building in England. Begun in 1441, it was partially dismantled in 1777. It remained a ruin until the early 20th century when it was converted back into a residence. It was occupied by the Royal Observatory from 1948 until the end of the 1980s when the Observatory was moved to Cambridge.

The ruins were a popular visitor attraction. The 1883 edition of A handbook for East-Bourne, Seaford, … published by George Chambers records:

'About 1m. [mile] past Wartling is a gate on the left which gives access to the Herstmonceux domain; this being entered, the upper part of the ruin will soon come into view; the Castle lies quite in a hollow. It used to be open every day free: now it is open only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 6d. a head is charged. The present keeper, J. Winchester, will be found a very intelligent and civil man.'

The ruins featured in the catalogues of numerous photographic and postcard publishers. The images on this page have all been scanned from original photos, most of which are albumen prints. Some were mounted and some were unmounted. It is hoped to provide a page featuring postcards (photographic and other) at a later date.

See also

The Royal Observatory at Herstmonceux

Herstmonceux Castle (eighteenth century engravings)

The lodge at the entrance to the Castle estate where visitors were required to buy their entry tickets. Postcard published by Thomas Alfred Duly, Bookseller & Stationer, Hurstmonceux, probably in the early 1900s. Note the two different spellings of the name Herstmonceux that appear on the card

Detail from the card above. The notice is signed E.A. Winchester rather than J. Winchester, who had presumably died by the time that the photo was taken

 


 

The photographs

 

Albumen prints published by Frederick Stephen Mann

Publisher: F.S. Mann, Hastings. Caption (printed on card mount): Hurstmonceux Castle Sussex. Serial number: Not recorded. Dimensions: 6.5 x 4 inches. Estimated date: pre-1892

Publisher: F.S. Mann, Hastings. Caption (printed on card mount): Interior of Hurstmonceux Castle Sussex. Serial number: Not recorded. Dimensions: 6.5 x 4 inches. Estimated date: pre-1892

 

Albumen prints published by George Washington Wilson

Publisher: George Washington Wilson. Caption: Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex, from the south. Serial number: 3615. Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.75 inches. Estimated date: pre-1896 as it is listed on p. 115 of the 1896 England catalogue

 

Albumen prints published by Carl Norman

Publisher: Carl Norman. Caption: Herstmonceux Castle. Serial number: 1143. Dimensions: 10 x 6.5 inches. Estimated date: c.1890?

Publisher: Carl Norman. Caption: Herstmonceux Castle, Serial number: 1146. Dimensions: 8 x 6.5 inches. Estimated date: c.1890?

 

Albumen prints published by Francis Frith

Publisher: Francis Frith. Caption: n/a. Serial number: 25346. Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 inches. Estimated date: listed as 1890 on the Frith website

Publisher: Francis Frith. Caption: n/a. Serial number: 25348. Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 inches. Estimated date: listed as 1890 on the Frith website

 

Albumen prints published annonymously by unidentified publisher, possibly Francis Frith

Publisher: Unknown. Caption: n/a. Serial number: n/a. Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 inches. Estimated date: unknown. The same hand has written 'Hurstmonceaux Castle' in pencil on the rear of this image and the Francis Frith image 25348 (above). The Frith image has its serial number on the rear. This one has the number 13572, suggesting that it may also be a Frith image that was purchased at the same time

 

Albumen prints published annonymously by a second unidentified publisher

Publisher: unknown. Caption: Herstmonceux Castle. Serial number: n/a. Dimensions: 7 x 4.5 inches. Estimated date: unknown

Publisher: unknown. Caption: Herstmonceux Castle. Serial number: n/a. Dimensions: 7 x 4.5 inches. Estimated date: unknown

 

Carte de visite image by an unknown publisher (albumen print)

Carte de visite: Publisher: unknown. Photographer: unknown. Nominal dimensions: Card: 3.75 x 2.75 inches, Image: 3.4 x 2.25 inches. Estimated date: unknown

 

Albumen prints produced by a single unidentified person

All four of the images below were mounted (glued) on a single page of a photo album.

Photographer: unknown. Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Estimated date: unknown

Photographer: unknown. Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Estimated date: unknown

Photographer: unknown. Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Estimated date: unknown

Photographer: unknown. Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Estimated date: unknown

 

Photos all taken by a second unidentified person

Photographer: unknown. Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Estimated date: unknown

Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Probably taken on the same date and by the same photographer as the image above

Nominal dimensions: 3.75 x 2.75 inches. Probably taken by the same photographer on the same date as the image above