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Vol 39  No 16
June 28, 2007


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A Song of Stone: Herstmonceux Castle

By Dr. Andrew Loman

Part estate poem, part historical saga, part accompaniment to recorded arias, this limited edition volume is as elegant as it is unusual.

Dr. Andrew Loman researched and wrote A Song of Stone: Herstmonceux Castle while teaching at the centuries-old estate that now houses Queen’s University’s International Study Centre in East Sussex, U.K. The project was a partnership with singer Diana Gilchrist, who had funding to create a package of material that could accompany her recorded repertoire.

“I leapt at the opportunity to be creative on commission,” Dr. Loman recalled.

Initially he planned only to write a contemporary estate poem after the fashion of these 17th-century tributes to the country home, intending that the poetry be read in sequence with the 14 arias and a single Lied that Ms. Gilchrist had recorded.

However, during his three years at Herstmonceux, he became fascinated with the history of the castle, which was built in the 15th century and restored in stages by a succession of owners throughout the 20th century. It’s a history infused with literary connections and apparitions, he says. In addition to being located in an area near where the likes of Virginia Woolf wrote, one of its owners figured in a 15th-century peasant rebellion that made its way into Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part II. Another engaged in pamphlet wars with Jonathan Swift, and yet another listened to Benjamin Franklin as he recited the first drafts of his Autobiography.

After uncovering the rich and varied history that lurked within the “lichen-flecked brick,” Dr. Loman crafted six essays that detail the castle’s pivotal moments.

His wife, Lynn Kristmanson, was responsible for the graphic artistry that adds to the book’s appeal; her father, a retired professor from the Alberta College of Art and Design, also played a role, supplying distinct drawings to accompany the text.

Five hundred copies of A Song of Stone were printed in 2006. Copies are available in the castle’s gift shop; or directly through Dr. Loman: aloman@mun.ca.

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