Photo Diary: East Sussex

Herstmonceux Castle Folly

The Herstmonceux Castle Folly – a Victorian facade that served no purpose other than to decorate the landscape.

Romance is when your partner plans surprise get-aways to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. This is what Robbie did for me over the weekend. I knew we were going to the seaside, but had to guess the town before he’d reveal the exact location.

On Saturday morning we caught a train from Victoria Station to East Sussex where he had a whole day planned out. One thing I love most about living in England is the focus on preserving national heritage. It’s just not something we see as much of back home in the States. Stately homes and castles are at the top of my list of places to go and practice photography (two of my favorite destinations are Castle Howard in Yorkshire, and Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire) because of the opulent architecture, beautiful gardens, and history seeping out of every stone and crevice. 

Our first stop was Polegate station where we hailed a cab and drive to Herstmonceux Castle. Constructed in the 15th century, Herstmonceux was one time the largest private home in England. In the 1520s, the castle was seized from the Dacre family by King Henry VIII, only to be given back under the rule of Elizabeth I. The Restoration period in the 17th century saw renovation and rejuvenation, but also the bankruptcy of Lord Dacre who was forced to sell the castle in 1777. By the 19th century, the castle was in ruins and became a popular tourist attraction for Victorian holiday-makers visiting Brighton and Eastbourne. Herstmonceux took on new life in the early 20th century and is now a part-time wedding venue and hosts international students studying at Queens University.

The grounds at Herstmonceux are stunning and include ancient chestnut trees, an Elizabethan garden, a folly (a house that serves only as decoration), lakes, and sprawling fields.


Ask the Author: How can I get my book published?

Ask the Author

Hello, and welcome! With the release of my first book, Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, coming up in October, I decided I needed to branch out from if I want to progress as a film historian and explore other subjects. Not to worry, I plan to continue updating Viv and Larry, but I felt it important to carve out a space where I could post about things that might not “fit” over there, like reviews of completely unrelated films or books, photography, and information about upcoming projects. So here we have it: my official author website. I’m so excited about this new venture and I want to thank you for coming along for the ride!

Rather than getting our toes wet, let’s jump right in. This inaugural post will be part of an ongoing series called “Ask the Author,” wherein people can submit questions about research, writing, publishing, etc., and I’ll post a different answer based on my own experiences each week. I’m going to start by answering general questions, and after October 10 (the UK release date of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait), will be open to discussing the contents of my book in detail. Whether you’re someone who wants to write a book some day, are currently working on one, or are just interested in the process, I hope this series proves helpful.

• • •

Q: I’m currently writing a book. What advice can you give me to improve my chances of being published? – Paulo F.

When I first started out on the journey to what would eventually become Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, I really had no clue how to take what I thought was this great idea and turn it into a physical product. The past five years have been a huge learning curve, and I was lucky enough to get some sound advice along the way. There is no foolproof formula for success; everyone’s journey is different. But these are some fundamentals that every new author should know.

News & Events

Lecture @ National Portrait Gallery

Vivien Leigh NPG

Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait

Actress Vivien Leigh is best known for her Academy Award-winning performances in Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire, her popularity on the post-war British stage, and her twenty-year marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier. Kendra Bean, author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, discusses the fascinating life of this extraordinary star.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A and book signing, and an opportunity to visit the Vivien Leigh centenary exhibit.

Admission is free, but space is limited and seats will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, so make sure you get there early!

Where: National Portrait Gallery Ondaatje Wing Theatre | St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE
When: Thursday, November 28, 1.15 pm