The Last Great Epoch In The History Of The Castle

A prince of consummate taste and fine conceptions, George the Fourth

meditated, and, what is better, accomplished the restoration of the

castle to more than its original grandeur. He was singularly fortunate

in his architect. Sir Jeffry Wyatville was to him what William

of Wykeham had been to Edward the Third. All the incongruities of

successive reigns were removed: all, or nearly all, the injuries

inflicted by time repaired; and when the work so well commenced was

finished, the structure took its place as the noblest and most majestic

palatial residence in existence.

To enter into a full detail of Wyatville's achievements is beyond the

scope of the present work; but a brief survey may be taken of them.

Never was lofty design more fully realised. View the castle on the

north, with its grand terrace of nearly a thousand feet in length,

and high embattled walls; its superb facade, comprehending the stately

Brunswick Tower; the Cornwall Tower, with its gorgeous window; George

the Fourth's Tower, including the great oriel window of the state

drawing-room; the restored Stuart buildings, and those of Henry the

Seventh and of Elizabeth; the renovated Norman Tower; the Powder Tower,

with the line of walls as far as the Winchester Tower;--view this, and

then turn to the east, and behold another front of marvellous beauty

extending more than four hundred feet from north to south, and

displaying the Prince of Wales's Tower, the Chester, Clarence, and

Victoria Towers--all of which have been raised above their former level,

and enriched by great projecting windows;--behold also the beautiful

sunken garden, with its fountain and orangery, its flights of steps, and

charming pentagonal terrace;--proceed to the south front, of which the

Victoria Tower, with its machicolated battlements and oriel window,

forms so superb a feature at the eastern corner, the magnificent gateway

receiving its name from George the Fourth, flanked by the York and

Lancaster Towers, and opening in a continued line from the Long Walk;

look at Saint George's Gate, Edward the Third's renovated tower, and the

octagon tower beyond it; look at all these, and if they fail to excite a

due appreciation of the genius that conceived them, gaze at the triumph

of the whole, and which lords over all the rest--the Round Tower--gaze

at it, and not here alone, but from the heights of the great park,

from the vistas of the home park, from the bowers of Eton, the meads

of Clewer and Datchet, from the Brocas, the gardens of the naval

knights--from a hundred points; view it at sunrise when the royal

standard is hoisted, or at sunset when it is lowered, near or at

a distance, and it will be admitted to be the work of a prodigious


But Wyatville's alterations have not yet been fully considered. Pass

through Saint George's Gateway, and enter the grand quadrangle to which

it leads. Let your eye wander round it, beginning with the inner

sides of Edward the Third's Tower and George the Fourth's Gateway,

and proceeding to the beautiful private entrance to the sovereign's

apartments, the grand range of windows of the eastern corridor, the

proud towers of the gateway to the household, the tall pointed windows

of Saint George's Hall, the state entrance tower, with its noble

windows, until it finally rests upon the Stuart buildings and King

John's Tower, at the angle of the pile.

Internally the alterations made by the architects have been of

corresponding splendour and importance. Around the south and east sides

of the court at which you are gazing, a spacious corridor has been

constructed, five hundred and fifty feet in length, and connected with

the different suites of apartments on these sides of the quadrangle;

extensive alterations have been made in the domestic offices; the state

apartments have been repaired and rearranged; Saint George's Hall

has been enlarged by the addition of the private chapel (the only

questionable change), and restored to the Gothic style; and the Waterloo

Chamber built to contain George the Fourth's munificent gift to the

nation of the splendid collection of portraits now occupying it.

"The first and most remarkable characteristic of operations of Sir

Jeffry Wyatville on the exterior," observes Mr. Poynter, "is the

judgment with which he has preserved the castle of Edward the Third.

Some additions have been made to it, and with striking effect--as the

Brunswick Tower, and the western tower of George the Fourth's Gate-way

which so nobly terminates the approach from the great park. The more

modern buildings on the north side have also been assimilated to the

rest; but the architect has yielded to no temptation to substitute his

own design for that of William of Wykeham, and no small difficulties

have been combated and overcome for the sake of preserving the outline

of the edifice, and maintaining the towers in their original position."

The Winchester Tower, originally inhabited by William of Wykeham, was

bestowed upon Sir Jeffry Wyatville as a residence by George the Fourth;

and, on the resignation of the distinguished architect, was continued to

him for life by the present queen.

The works within the castle were continued during the reign of William

the Fourth, and at its close the actual cost of the buildings had

reached the sum of 771,000, pounds and it has been asserted that the

general expenditure up to the present time has exceeded a million and a

half of money.

The view from the summit of the Round Tower is beyond description

magnificent, and commands twelve counties--namely, Middlesex, Essex,

Hertford, Berks, Bucks, Oxford, Wilts, Hants, Surrey, Sussex, Kent,

and Bedford; while on a clear day the dome of Saint Paul's may be

distinguished from it. This tower was raised thirty-three feet by Sir

Jeffry Wyatville, crowned with a machicolated battlement, and surmounted

with a flag-tower.

The circumference of the castle is 4180 feet; the length from east to

west, 1480 feet; and the area, exclusive of the terraces, about twelve


For the present the works are suspended. But it is to be hoped that the

design of Sir Jeffry Wyatville will be fully carried out in the lower

ward, by the removal of such houses on the north as would lay Saint

George's Chapel open to view from this side; by the demolition of the

old incongruous buildings lying westward of the bastion near the Hundred

Steps, by the opening out of the pointed roof of the library; the repair

and reconstruction in their original style of the Curfew, the Garter,

and the Salisbury Towers; and the erection of a lower terrace extending

outside the castle, from the bastion above mentioned to the point of

termination of the improvements, and accessible from the town; the

construction of which terrace would necessitate the removal of the

disfiguring and encroaching houses on the east side of Thames Street.

This accomplished, Crane's ugly buildings removed, and the three western

towers laid open to the court, the Horse-shoe Cloisters consistently

repaired, Windsor Castle would indeed be complete. And fervently do

we hope that this desirable event may be identified with the reign of


The Butcher And How He Was Cast Into The Vault Of The Curfew Tower The Legend Of Herne The Hunter facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail