Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Tuesday 19th October
We didn’t move on today as we wanted to visit Windsor Castle. This is our third visit to Windsor and our last so we had to do it this time. I have been since the fire but Richard had never been. We were really lucky with the weather as it was sunny most of the time though it poured down as we were in the State Apartments and then again as we were going into St. George’s Chapel. The State Apartments are magnificent – the audio guide says that the fire in fact had a good side as the restoration work is marvellous. The ceilings are fantastic – I’ve got quite a crick in my neck now! All the paintings have been restored and are no longer the dull old masters that they were. They only lost one painting in the fire which has been reproduced – apparently Prince Andrew offered to go in and get the painting out by cutting it out of its frame but he wasn’t allowed to enter the burning room! Where the fire started they have built a complete new room which, at Prince Philip’s request, now links the private apartments with the state apartments. The 1992 fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle. By good fortune the rooms worst affected were empty at the time, and as a result, few of the Castle's artistic treasures were destroyed. The highly acclaimed restoration work, completed in 1997, is a testament to the extraordinary skills of some of the finest craftsmen in Europe. We were lucky as from October to March George IV's private apartments (the Semi-State Rooms) are open and are among the most richly decorated interiors in the Castle. The first room you come to is all done in crimson and gold and actually took my breath away. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos inside but I’ve taken this one off the Royal Collection website. After the State Apartments we went down to St George's Chapel which is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. It is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter, the senior order of British Chivalry established in 1348 by Edward III. Medieval carved wooden stalls in the Quire are where the Knights of the Order of the Garter gather during their annual ceremony. The banners hang over their individual stalls and about 700 engraved and enamelled brass plates of former knights are attached to the backs of the stalls. In 2008, Prince William became the 1,000th knight of the order. Within St. George's are the tombs of ten monarchs, including Edward IV, Charles I, George V and Queen Mary, and George VI. Also buried there is Henry VIII, who lies beside his favourite wife, Jane Seymour in the Quire but it does seem strange to be able to stand on him. There has only been one structural change to the chapel since it was built in 1348 and that is the King George VI Memorial Chapel which was built in the 1960s. King George VI died in 1952 and his funeral took place at St. George's Chapel on 15 February. He was interred in the Royal Vault until transferred to inside St. George's on 26 March 1969. In 2002, the Queen Mother was laid to rest beside him and later that year the ashes of Princess Margaret were also interred there. After the Chapel we walked to the The Horseshoe Cloister which was built between 1478-1481 by Kind Edward IV for the priest vicars serving the Chapel. They were restored and re-modelled by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1871. They are now the homes of the Lay Clerks, the gentlemen of the choir. Just before we left there was a changing of the guard and I just couldn’t resist taking a photo!! We walked back to the boat, having an ice cream on our way and only just got back in time before the sky went black and the heavens opened.