« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
So fond was this monarch of the place of his nativity, that he ordered the Castle to be rebuilt on an enlarged and splendid scale, employing William of Wykeham, as the architect on this memorable occasion. It has been mentioned, that Eleanor, Queen of Edward the First, usually went to Windsor by water, not being a good horsewoman, and the roads being impassable for her conveyance by waggons ! It is said to have been seventeen years in building. Workmen were impressed for the service; the pay being small some absconded, but writs were issued prohibiting all persons from employing them on pain of forfeiting their goods and chattels. The plague afterwards made a havoc among them, when some of the counties, particularly York, Salop and Devon, sent their quota to complete the Building. No part of William the Norman's Castle was preserved, except three towers at the west end of the lower ward. The parts constructed by Edward the Third, comprised the King's Palace, the great hall of St. George, the lodging of the east and south sides of the upper ward, the round tower, the chapel of St. George, the canons' houses in the lower ward, and the whole circumference of the walls with the towers and gates. Many improvements, however, have been made in the reigns of successive monarchs, especially Charles the Second. He not only enlarged the Terrace Walk on the north side of the Castle, but carried a like Terrace round the east and part of the south side, new facing the whole Terrace with a rampart of freestone. And his
PRESENT MAJESTY has made many essential improvements. Under the agency of James Wyatt, Esq., Surveyor of the General Board of Works, the Castle has undergone several elegant alterations; the interior receiving some superb and appropriate embellishments.
The CASTLE consists of two courts or wards, between which is the keep or round tower, usually termed the middle ward. The circumference of the whole Castle is 4180 feet, the length, from east to west, 1480 feet, and the area twelve acres, exclusive of the Terrace walks.
The Upper Ward is a spacious quadrangle, formed on the west side, by the round tower; on the north, by the state apartments, St. George's hall and the chapel royal; and on the east and south sides, by the private apartments of their Majesties, and those of the junior branches of the Royal Family. An equestrian statue, in bronze, of Charles the Second, ornaments the centre of the square, erected in 1680, and dedicated by one Tobias Rustat_" To his most gracious master, Charles, the best of Kings !"
The Tower or Middle Ward is built on a considerable elevation, in the form of an amphitheatre, whence the flag waves, indicative of the presence of Majesty.
: The Lower Ward is far more spacious than the Upper, and is divided into two parts by the Collegiate Church or Chapel of St. George. On the north or inner side, are the houses and apartments of the
Dean and Canons, minor Canons, Clerks, Vergers and other officers of the foundation; whilst on the west and south sides of the outer parts of this court, are the houses of the alms or poor Knights of Windsor.
“ The New Castle of Windsor (says a modern writer, well versed in matters of antiquity), certainly proves a very considerable accession of art to have taken place in the architectural character of the kingdom, during the FOURTEENTH century. By remains to be seen of Norman Castles, we may judge of the rudeness of King William's structare. The ruins of Kendal, Knaresborough and Pontefract Castles, and the present more perfect condition of Skipton, Cawder and Glarnys, (which were imitated from the Norman,) shew the deformity and inconvenience of the fortresses erected at that time.” A Royal Personage, on her first visit to this place, might well be said to have exclaimed_" This is a Palace indeed!”
Camden and Denham, the one in prose, the other in poetry, have panegyrized WINDSOR CASTLE, in a strain that does honour to their taste and judgment, “ From a high hill, (says old Camden,) which riseth with a gentle ascent, THE CASTLE enjoyeth a most estimable prospect round about, for right in the front it overlooketh a vale, lying out far and wide, garnished with corn-fields, flourishing with meadows, decked with groves on either side, and watered with the most mild and calm river Thames. Behind it arise hills every where, neither rough nor over high, attired, as
it were, with woods, and even dedicated, as it were, by nature to hunting and games.”
Denham, in his Cooper's Hill, though accustomed to panegyric, cannot be said to run into excess on the present occasion :
WINDSOR the next, (where Mars with Venus dwells,
Having given this slight sketch of the history of the Castle, it is time that we enter the fabric and survey its interior decorations. These are varied and magnificent. But before we attempt to give any account of them, the young reader will be amused with the description of its chief ornaments and curiosities, presented us by a foreigner, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. We shall then perceive the decided superiority of its present modern embellishments. “ There are worthy of notice here, two Bathing
Rooms, ceiled and wainscotted with looking-glass ; the chamber in which Henry the Sixth was born; Queen's Elizabeth's bed-chamber, where is a table of red marble, with white streaks; a gallery, every where ornamented with emblems and figures; a chamber, in which are the royal beds of Henry the Seventh and his Queen, of Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn, all of them eleven feet square, and covered with quilts, shining with gold and silver ; Queen Elizabeth's bed, with curious coverings of embroidery, but not quite so long or so large as the others; a piece of tapestry in which is represented Clovis, King of France, with an angel presenting him with the fleurs-de-lis, to be borne in his arms, for before this time, the Kings of France bore three toads in their shield, instead of which they afterwards placed three fleurs-de-lis on a blue field : this tapestry, so antique, is said to have been taken from a King of France, when the English were masters there, We were shewn here, among other things, the horn of an unicorn, about eight spans and a half in length, valued at above £10,000; the bird of paradise, three spans long, and a cushion, most curiously wrought by Queen Elizabeth's own hand."
A modern historian having made the above curious transcript, very properly adds—“How interesting a contrast to these insignificant particulars is presented by the performances of arts and letters, now collected in this VENERABLE Castle! Vandyke and West ocepuy the places possessed by the Bird of Paradise and Unicorn's Horn, while even the cushion, 'most