Windsor Castle

views updated May 11 2018

Windsor Castle

One of the largest inhabited castles in the world. Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, England, is one of the royal residences and headquarters of the Order of the Garter. It is frequently cited as a haunted house, filled with numerous notable specters. Queen Elizabeth, Henry VIII, Charles I, and some of the Georges have all been reputed to haunt the castle, and Herne the Hunter is also said to roam the twelve-acre Great Park.

In February 1897, Lieutenant Carr Glynn of the Grenadier Guards was sitting in the library reading in the twilight when he heard the rustle of a silken dress and, looking up, saw the ghost of Queen Elizabeth I glide across the room. He buckled on his sword and reported the matter. The story attracted the attention of the country for some weeks. Sir Richard Holmes and his assistants kept watch for many nights, but the ghost did not reappear.

On another occasion, a housemaid in St. John's Tower thought she saw a ghost. She was so frightened that she became ill and had to be sent home. In 1908, a sentry discharged five rounds of ball cartridge at a figure that appeared on the terrace, which he declared was a specter.

A famous ghost is that of Sir George Villiers, father of the Duke of Buckingham in the reign of James I. Herne the Hunter, who is said to lead a wild hunt in the park, was immortalized in W. Harrison Ainsworth's novel Windsor Castle (1843).

Today, Windsor Castle is open daily except when used for royal visits. There are historic treasures in the state apartments, including period furniture, fittings, paintings and suits of armor. The castle also houses Queen Mary's Dolls' House, which is a popular exhibit.

Windsor castle

views updated May 23 2018

Windsor castle (Berks.) is the premier castle of England as well as its largest. It is situated beside the river Thames and on the edge of Windsor Great Park, formerly a popular hunting ground of kings. Windsor castle was founded by William the Conqueror, who adopted the typical Norman design of motte and bailey, and was first used as a royal residence by Henry I. The original wooden structure was replaced by stone from 1165 to 1179 by Henry II, who also constructed the prominent Round Tower. St George's chapel, Windsor—which has long served as the last resting place of sovereigns—was begun by Edward IV in 1475 and is notable for its fan vaulting, monuments, stalls, and stained glass. The conversion of Windsor from fortress into palace began in the 16th cent. and continued in the 17th when Charles II commissioned Hugh May (1621–84) to refurbish the royal apartments. Subsequently extensive remodelling was carried out for George III from 1796 by James Wyatt, and by his nephew Sir Jeffry Wyatville for George IV from 1820 to 1830. Prince Albert died at Windsor in 1861, and to commemorate her husband Queen Victoria converted Henry III's chapel into the present Albert memorial chapel. Set in the surrounding Home Park at Windsor is Frogmore House, whose picturesque grounds may have been designed by Sir Uvedale Price, with a lake and a Gothic temple by Wyatt, and the royal mausoleum (1862–71), domed and Romanesque, by A. Jenkins Humbert and Ludwig Grüner. In the centre of the mausoleum is a monument to the queen and prince consort, with two white marble effigies by Baron C. Marochetti of 1864–8.

Peter Willis

Windsor Castle

views updated Jun 27 2018

Windsor Castle English royal residence, 32km (20mi) w of London. It was founded by William I (the Conqueror) to defend the Thames Valley. Besieged by rebellious barons in the reign of King John, it was never captured, although it was occupied by parliamentary forces during the Civil War. Windsor Castle has been frequently extended, reconstructed, and restored, but retains the appearance of a medieval fortress. In 1992, it was damaged by fire.