History Group Visit to Windsor Castle.
49 History Group Members travelled to Windsor Castle by coach on October 18, for the last visit of the current season.
The first views of the Castle were impressive – an imposing Norman fortress dominating the landscape atop a huge hill – an iconic image.
We had a generous amount of time to visit the Castle and Chapel of St George, and viewed many notable areas, including the fully restored State and Semi State Rooms.
Passing the Round Tower, we first saw Queen Mary’s Dolls House, full of exquisite miniatures, created to scale by the leading British craftsmen and companies of that era and complete with working electricity and plumbing. Nearby were the dolls of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, a gift from the children of France, and dressed by the leading French couturiers of the day – Lanvin, Worth etc, and adorned with Cartier jewels. Priceless dolls and priceless dolls clothes!
Passing through opulent State Reception Rooms and Dining Rooms, Bedrooms and Dressing Rooms we entered the magnificent St Georges Hall, imposing in length (55.5m) width (9m) and height, and covered with the crests of the Knights of the Garter, also known as Companions of the Order, and the blank lozenges of disgraced Companions. 160 Guests can be seated at one table for a State Banquet in this Hall.
The Garter Throne Room can be easily overlooked but is the seat of British pomp and tradition.
After St George’s Hall we viewed the Green and Crimson Drawing Rooms, resplendent in vivid and fresh colours as per the original plans. They have been fully restored after the Great Fire of 1992 as has St George’s Hall. We noticed how bright the Castle appeared, and this is due to the many Lantern windows through which light floods in.
A short walk back past the Round Tower took us to St Georges Chapel – such a familiar image around the world. . Daily prayer has been held here for over 500 years. Inside there was a poignant memorial in the Urswick Chantry to Princess Charlotte, who died in childbirth, aged 21; the marble memorial was so realistic and raw in its depiction of grief. Other historic sights in the Chapel include the burial places of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and Charles the First in the Quire, as well as the memorials to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.
Windsor Castle contains a wealth of history, being the oldest continuously inhabited royal residence in the world and the home of 39 monarchs. It is well worth a return visit. Thanks to Geoff Bayley for organising this most interesting visit.