Thursday 19 April 2012

Q is for Queen’s Castle – Windsor!

Q was a difficult one for little old Britain to come up with a name for a Castle – but I thought Queen’s Castle would be a good way round and it is longer than usual, sorry!

An aerial view of Windsor Castle (L to R) the Lower Ward, the Middle Ward
and Round Tower, the Upper Ward with the Long Walk in the lower right-hand
corner.  The River Thames can be seen in the upper left of the photo.

Windsor Castle has played an iconic role in our Queen’s history and many of the views will be well known, so I have summarised the history and shown some aspects that you may not have seen or been aware of.

Windsor Castle in 1658, as seen from the south-east,
by Wenceslas Hollar (1607 - 1677) .... a bohemian etcher
The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror.  Since the time of Henry I (1068 – 1135) it has been used by a succession of monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.

The Horsehoe Cloister built in
1480 reconstructed in the
19th century
The Castle’s lavish, early 19th century, State Apartments are architecturally significant described as a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste.

The 15th century St George’s Chapel is considered to be one of the supreme achievements of English Perpendicular Gothic design.  The Horseshoe Cloister was built at the west end of the Lower Ward near to the Chapel to house its clergy.

Originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London and to oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, the castle fortifications were always being strengthened.

The Long Walk
Henry III built a luxurious royal palace within the castle during the 13th century; this was enhanced by future royals with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both making increasing use of the castle as a royal court and centre for diplomatic entertainment.

Soon after her Accession in 1952 our Queen decided to make Windsor her family weekend retreat, but by the 1990s a major refurbishment programme was commenced to replace the ancient heating and wiring systems, while work was also undertaken to underpin the motte of the Round Tower after fresh subsidence was detected in 1988, threatening its collapse.

Sadly a major fire ensued in 1992 during these renovations.  Nine of the principal state rooms were destroyed, and over a hundred more were severely damaged.  Fire-fighters applied water to contain the fire, while staff rescued most of the precious works of art from the castle.

Downes' work on the roof of
St George's Chapel, Windsor
A Law of Unintended Consequences ensued – the water damage caused more complex restoration problems than the fire itself – resulting in Buckingham Palace being opened to the public to help pay for the costs.

The decision was taken to largely follow the pre-fire architecture with some changes to reflect modern tastes.  

The architect, Giles Downes’ new roof of St George’s Hall is the largest green-oak structure built since the Middle Ages, and is decorated with brightly coloured shields celebrating the heraldic history of the Order of the Garter.

Downes' drawings for the
Lantern Lobby

The Lantern Lobby features flowing oak columns forming a vaulted ceiling, imitating an arum lily – here you can see Downes’ drawing; he has held the  positions of Chairman of the Judges for the Wood Awards, and Senior Warden of the Carpenters’ Company.

Because of the Castle’s position on top of steep ground, the gardens are limited in scale, however the estate is surrounded by extensive parkland, farms, estate cottages, the Frogmore Estate, woodlands, a private school for the choristers to the Chapel, while across the River is to be found Eton College, the English public school.

The Crimson Drawing Room in
2007, following the 1992 fire and
subsequent remodelling
More than five hundred people live and work in Windsor, making it the largest inhabited castle in the world – while the Queen enjoys hosting state visits here, it is also her preferred weekend home ...

That is Q for the Queen’s Windsor Castle ...  THE CASTLE of Great Britain ... part of the ABC series Aspects of British Castles.

Bob Scotney’s castle yesterday was Powis Castle, Wales

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Bob Scotney said...

Hilary, 'Q' proved difficult - I would never have considered Windsor, but great that you did. Now what can I do for 'W'?


Well done on your choice Hilary.

I have been to Winsor Castle on numerous occasions and each time found something I missed before.

Thanks for your welcomed visits, much appreciated.

Angela said...

Great info and wonderful pics.

Old Kitty said...

It's an absolute mammoth of a castle! It's massive and lavish and humungous and ever so grand!! WOW!!!

Take care

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Wouldn't it be nice to live there and be able to look out of any window at the country that surrounds the castle?

Bish Denham said...

I suppose one could get lost in there pretty easily. A game of hide and seek would take months, maybe years! :)

Jo said...

I had no idea it was so huge. I remember hearing about the fire over here. Seemed so sad. We had recently seen a documentary about the castle and I particularly remembered the dining room which really impressed me. I was sad it was burned.

Unknown said...

It's huge! I would love to see it someday.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bob - well you managed an English Q .. I found two Irish ones .. but 'they were dull'! So decided creativity was needed! I've got my W! - but I'm sure you'd do a completely different post to mine here - your 'take on castles' is so interesting .. and there must be hauntings at Windsor ...?

@ Yvonne - difficult was Q?! Glad you enjoyed this .. and yes I've been once or twice years ago - again .. I need to do an update visit.

@ Angela - glad you enjoyed the post and photos ..

@ Old Kitty - it does appear to be wonderful doesn't it .. and the adjectives you've used describe it perfectly .. mammoth, massive, lavish, humungous and ever so grand!! WOW is the right word.

@ Richard - yes a lovely thought .. the rolling river, the distant countryside westwards, the town life, London in the distance ... and dare I say it x number of aeroplanes going into Heathrow!

@ Bish - Hide and Seek .. and we might never see you again ...? Wonderful place to play in ..

@ Jo - I liked the aerial shot - it does show a castle setting off.

Perhaps the fire in some ways was a good thing .. areas were refurbished and modernised and the Crown had to go fund-raising .. opening the doors to more opportunities for us, the public, to see other areas.

The architect seems to have worked wonders .. and a new green oak ceiling is very special ...

@ Clarissa - as you say .. well I hope you and the family can get over sometime to see this one and perhaps a few other Castles.

Cheers to you all - enjoy the day ... and thanks so much for visiting .. Hilary

Talli Roland said...

Yay for Windsor! It's such a gorgeous castle in beautiful grounds. My husband me the Queen in Windsor at her private chapel.

moondustwriter said...

enjoyed a visit to Windsor several years ago
Didn't know about the fire - most have cost a pretty pence

thanks for the great Q post

Luanne G. Smith said...

Nice way around the Q dilemma. Didn't get a chance to visit Windsor, but isn't it impressive! I imagine it must cost a royal fortune to maintain...and then some.

MorningAJ said...

Queen's Castle gives you quite a choice really doesn't it? It's years since I went to Windsor. Lovely place.

Lynn Proctor said...

if i had a castle--i don't think it would only be my weekend home--but i guess, seeing where the queen lives, it makes sense--beautiful piece

D.G. Hudson said...

I want to see this one, too, Hilary. Loved this post, I haven't seen any of these photos before.

Thanks for mentioning my blog, Hilary, on the A-Z post yesterday. I appreciate that!

In Canada, we still have a connection to the monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth still takes part in some of our formal celebrations.

Haddock said...

That work on the roof is really great. What I admire is that all this is so well preserved.

MunirGhiasuddin said...

The crimson dining room is beautiful.I remember going to New Windsor. I think we went to a zoo near by and I remember my husband telling me that a monkey had taken the case of the head lights off of his car( mini Austin. )Ah those were the days.
Great post Hilary as always. Thanks for sharing! Cheers !

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Talli - did he that must have been a very special meeting - lucky you to have heard about it. The chapel must be amazing to be inside ..

@ Moondustwriter - at least you saw the Castle after it had been restored and refurbished ..

@ Luanne - sorry you didn't get out to see Windsor Castle .. but it certainly is impressive - all the Palaces, Castles, Cathedrals and Churches are costly to keep up ... thankfully they do.

@ Anne - yes .. but I'd posted on Balmoral and the others are houses or palaces I think ...

Also years since I've been .. another visit coming soon I think ..

@ Lynn - it's a gorgeous estate and they've got Frogmore House (well the Queen Mother did) - which can be fairly private .. and the Queen loves riding - so she's often out in the Park I gather, as to the Prince with his carriages ..

@ DG - oh good - I'm glad I posted photos you hadn't seen. I'm sure Windsor now is superb to go round and visit ..

Your blog is fantastic .. so I hope others will go over to see Paris ..

In Canada .. it's good the Monarchy came over to visit - you had the first Royal trip by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - didn't you!

@ Haddock - nice to meet you .. and the roof is quite extraordinary isn't it .. thankfully the Royal family do look after their and our heritage ..

@ Munir - the Crimson Drawing Room is stunning isn't it - I'm glad you have memories of visiting Windsor .. you perhaps went to one of the large houses with a zoo park - from where the monkey would have had some fun running over and around the car .. ah! yes a mini Austin .. I remember those. Good to see you ..

Cheers everyone - thank you so much for commenting - good to see you - cheers Hilary

alberta ross said...

I watched a doc. on the refurbishment after the fire - what I liked the best was knowing and seeing the 'craftsmen' working on beauty - so great to know we still had the skills - and that the young can appreciate works of art.
great post

A Lady's Life said...

That is indeed a beautiful place and grounds and you explained it so much better as to why there was a fire in 1992.

I wonder what will become of these places once there are no more monarchs?

Susan Kane said...

What a history! All I knew about Windsor Castle was the fire, which was horrible.

I need to check the castles in previous posts! Thanks for writing!

Julie Flanders said...

Don't apologize for the length, it was great to read! I realized I didn't know much at all about Windsor Castle, very interesting.

Susan Scheid said...

I seem to remember reading about that fire. I noticed the comment on the documentary of post-fire restoration. That looks interesting, too. Thanks goodness for long traditions of good craftsmanship to make it right again.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I have watched every series there is on Windsor Castle. I was born just after Elizabeth took the throne, and so I feel a kinship. Her home is magnificent. Thanks for sharing these posts on UK's castles, Hilary. It's been a most enjoyable read.

Chuck said...

That fire was tragic. However I would like a weekend home where 500 people live and work. The lace looks absolutely huge!

Botanist said...

Lovely to see some pictures of the inside. The aerial view is quite familiar to me as I often flew in & out of Heathrow on business for a while.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,
And um, right on "Q", I have arrived:) Of course, Windsor castle aka "Queen's Castle" is a much visited location and a place I have had the great pleasure of being too.
Perhaps I should mention that I have turned down several knighthoods.
Seriously, a most superbly informative article and a great castle to visit and not that far from a must visit to "Legoland".
And right on "Q", I'm outta' here...

Betsy Brock said...

A clever way to get the Q in there! What a wonderful post, too! I just love the history behind this's amazing!

Manzanita said...

We were thinking alike today. I put in Queen Rani for my "Q."
It was a pleasant affair reading about Windsor so your Q idea was excellent. I love history and especially Britain's but I'm spotty with it and your post helps fill in the blanks.
There was something else I was going to tell you but I have brain fog. For this month, I bit off more then.... you know the old cliche. Beside "trying" to do the the a-z I'm at the ranch every day supervising all the projects I have going. The greenhouse arrived today and I'm dead tired but delighted beyond belief at the thought of having a greenhouse. Take care, my friend.

Juliet said...

Oh dear, I've got behind after a few busy days! What ingenuity you show here, with Queen's Castle - I like it. I had no idea Windsor Castle was so extensive. That fire must have been devastating. The monarch and family must feel so dwarfed by such a huge building; maybe this is designed to keep them humble! thanks for another interesting post Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alberta - yes I saw that ages ago .. and would quite like to see it again. The craftsmen are few in number now-a-days ... but people are becoming interested again.

@ A Lady's Life - many thanks .. summarising some of the history is quite challenging - especially in a short post! I hope we have monarchs for a few more years yet - it would be a great pity to lose the heritage and our roots.

@ Susan - glad you enjoyed the post and will look at more castles, and then the history behind them.

@ Julie - it's not a castle to be shorted out! Delighted I fulfilled the brief though - and it was interesting!

@ Susan - the BBC must have made the documentary on the restoration .. I hope you and I can find it somewhere, sometime.

Our craftsmen and traditions are fortunately long maintained by the guilds, but still some are being lost and if we don't record them or hold the knowledge of the 'old boys and girls' those crafts will be lost forever. Certainly tv programmes pop up highlighting some old dying traditions and crafts .. so people are still interested.

@ Joylene - we're fortunate to have the BBC and other superb programme makers - so we have these films to watch. We're the same era .. and I've learnt so much posting these castles up .. delighted you feel the same way - thank you.

@ Chuck - the fire was tragic .. but I think probably was a blessing in some ways - refurbishment with new materials using old craft techniques, and opening up more of the Queen's Palaces, houses and castles to us, the public.

I know 500 people working there ... well it has to be meticulously well-maintained despite its 'giganticness'!

@ Ian - many thanks for coming by - yes you would have seen it numerous times wouldn't you - glad you enjoyed the interiors.

@ Gary - did you turn down some knighthoods - well that's amazing .. Penny would make an excellent, elegatnt canine Lady!

It isn't far from Legoland - and they get lots of visitors .. but history is made here. Like you I've been a few times .. must go again soon to Windsor, not Legoland!

@ Betsy - many thanks - seemed an easy way round the Q conundrum! Glad you enjoyed it and its history ..

@ Manzanita - yes I spotted your Queen Rani and your Hunza peoples ... Our British history is well recorded, and we're finding more .. thankfully.

I think my posts just enter the garden of history .. and really no more - there is so much.

You have got a lot on .. I hadn't realised about all those projects - I'd be tired too! Good luck with the greenhouse, but wonderful to have one - they offer so many other possibilities for growing fruit and vegetables ... enjoy!!

@ Juliet - no worries .. we're all busy and I'm behind in commenting elsewhere.

You've hit a good note - the Queen I believe is humble ... she's certainly aware of her place in history .. but at the same time concerned for us, her people.

Delighted to see you all - thank you so much for your comments .. cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

Windsor Castle is quite beautiful!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynn - thanks .. have a good weekend .. Hilary

Heather Murphy said...

No doubt that Winsor Castle is Queen's Castle. Great post!

Anonymous said...

LOVE that long walk photograph. And The Crimson Drawing Room is spectacular. Such incredible history behind the Windsor Castle. Yes indeed -- the Queen's Castle.

An amazing post, Hilary, as always! XXXX
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Heather - thanks I had to get a little creative for my Q!

@ Ann - isn't the Long Walk just a wonderful sight .. and yes to see inside would be special. I enjoyed writing this post - and learning a little more myself ..

Thanks Heather and Ann - cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

It's a grand old place, would like to go someday. It must be a great sight when you walk down the Long Walk.

Glynis Peters said...

I have fond memories of a day out with my aunt at this castle. I loved every moment of the visit.

Robyn Campbell said...

I know of this castle. But you explain it so beautifully. That Long Walk must be breathtaking. Wonderful post. :-)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I've been to this one three times. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - now it's been restored and refurbished I expect it's quite stunning - but the views of the Long Walk look amazing don't they ..

@ Glynis - special memories for you then .. glad I reminded you.

@ Robyn - many thanks .. glad I seem to have captured the essence for you ..

You'd love riding your horses in the Great Park - the Queen rides there, as does Prince Philip with his carriages ...

@ Sharon - now that's outdoing us!! So pleased you've had days out down there .. I imagine it's a great place to look around .. and I'm sure there's so much to see

Thank you so much .. delighted to see you all - Hilary