The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 57 From London To Windsor

Windsor Castle

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In High St., a short way from the Great Western Railway station, is the Town Hall, partly built by Wren (1686) and adorned with statues of Queen Anne and Prince George of Denmark. Inside are royal portraits and a bust of Charles Knight (1791-1873), a native of Windsor. The church of St. John, close by, rebuilt in 1822, contains mosaics by Salviati and wood-carvings by Grinling Gibbons. There are still a few quaint old houses in Church Street. The Edward VII. Gateway (1921), in Thames St., admits to a walk leading to the river. Windsor Castle, situated on a low but steep chalk cliff rising abruptly above the Thames, dominates the town and the extensive flat region around it. It still preserves the original form of the Conqueror's castle (two baileys and a mote-hill) in its division into a Lower Ward, containing chapels, cloisters, and deanery; a Middle Ward, wholly occupied by the Round Tower; and an Upper Ward, surrounded by the apartments of the royal residence. Visitors enter the castle either by Henry VIII.'s Gateway, in Castle Hill, or by the Hundred Steps (122 in number), ascending from Thames St. to the Canons' Cloisters. In the absence of the Court the conditions of admission to the castle are as follows. The Lower Ward, the adjacent Cloisters, and the North Terrace are open free, daily. The State Apartments are shown on weekdays, except Friday, between 11 and 3 (October-March.), 4 (April-June), or 5 (July-September); fee 1/, children 6d.; half-price on bank holidays. The Round Tower (in summer only; free), the Albert Memorial Chapel (closed 1-2; free), and the Queen's Doll's House (in summer only; 6d.) are shown on the same days and at the same hours. St. George's Chapel is open on week-days (except Friday) from 12.30 to 4 (services at 10 & 5, on Sunday at 11 & 5). The Curfew Tower is shown on application to the keeper. The East Terrace is open on Sunday afternoons in June-August, when the Guards' band plays (2,30-4.30). Friday is the worst day to visit Windsor, as both the State Apartments and St. George's Chapel are closed. Visitors ascending Castle Hill, past the statue of Queen Victoria by Boehm, enter the LOWER WARD by Henry VIII.'s Gateway. Here, immediately to the right, are the houses occupied by the Military Knights of Windsor (founded by Edward III.), beyond which is Henry III.'s Tower. Immediately to the left, at the west end of the ward, is the Guard Room, between the Salisbury Tower (south-west) and the Garter Tower (north-west). On the northside of the ward are the Horseshoe Cloisters, St. George's Chapel, and the Albert Memorial Chapel. The Horseshoe Cloisters, built by Edward IV. in the shape of a fetterlock, one of the royal badges, have been restored by Sir G. G. Scott. At their north-west angle stands the Curfew or Bell Tower, which was built by Henry III. and is thus one of the oldest existing parts of the castle. It contains a peal of bells and a 13th century dungeon, but the tradition that Anne Boleyn was imprisoned here is apocryphal. The cross on the east side of the cloisters marks the site of the burial vaults. The passage skirting the north side of St. George's Chapel leads to the Dean's Cloisters. St. George's Chapel, dedicated to the patron saint of the Order of the Garter, was mainly built by Edward IV. (1474-1483), on the same site as earlier chapels of Henry I., Henry III., and Edward III., and was completed by Henry VII. and Henry VIII. It is one of the most perfect specimens of late-Perpendicular work, ranking with King's Chapel at Cambridge and Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster. It is now undergoing restoration. The 'King's Beasts' on the pinnacles are modern substitutes (1926) for the originals removed in 1682.