Comprising The Fourth Epoch In The History Of The Castle

Finding the foundation and walls of Saint George's Chapel much

dilapidated and decayed, Edward the Fourth resolved to pull down the

pile, and build a larger and statelier structure in its place. With this

view, he constituted Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, surveyor

of the works, from whose designs arose the present beautiful edifice. To

enable the bishop to accomplish the work, power was given him to remove

obstructions, and to enlarge the space by the demolition of the

three buildings then commonly called Clure's Tower, Berner's Tower, and

the Almoner's Tower.

The zeal and assiduity with which Beauchamp prosecuted his task is

adverted to in the patent of his appointment to the office of chancellor

of the Garter, the preamble whereof recites, "that out of mere love

towards the Order, he had given himself the leisure daily to attend the

advancement and progress of this goodly fabric."

The chapel, however, was not completed in one reign, or by one

architect. Sir Reginald Bray, prime minister of Henry the Seventh,

succeeded Bishop Beauchamp as surveyor of the works, and it was by him

that the matchless roof of the choir and other parts of the fabric were

built. Indeed, the frequent appearance of Bray's arms, sometimes single,

sometimes impaling his alliances, in many parts of the ceiling and

windows, has led to the supposition that he himself contributed largely

to the expense of the work. The groined ceiling of the chapel was

not commenced till the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Henry the

Seventh, when the pinnacles of the roof were decorated with vanes,

supported by gilt figures of lions, antelopes, greyhounds, and dragons,

the want of which is still a detriment to the external beauty of the


"The main vaulting of St. George's Chapel," says Mr. Poynter, "is

perhaps, without exception, the most beautiful specimen of the Gothic

stone roof in existence; but it has been very improperly classed with

those of the same architectural period in the chapels of King's College,

Cambridge, and Henry the Seventh, at Westminster. The roofing of the

aisle and the centre compartment of the body of the building are indeed

in that style, but the vault of the nave and choir differ essentially

from fan vaulting, both in drawing and construction. It is, in fact,

a waggon-headed vault, broken by Welsh groins--that is to say, groins

which cut into the main arch below the apex. It is not singular in the

principle of its design, but it is unique in its proportions, in which

the exact mean seems to be attained between the poverty and monotony of

a waggon-headed ceiling and the ungraceful effect of a mere groined roof

with a depressed roof or large span--to which may be added, that with a

richness of effect scarcely, if at all, inferior to fan tracery, it

is free from those abrupt junctions of the lines and other defects of

drawing inevitable when the length and breadth of the compartments of

fan vaulting differ very much, of which King's College Chapel exhibits

some notable instances."

Supported by these exquisite ribs and groins, the ceiling is decorated

with heraldic insignia, displaying the arms of Edward the Confessor,

Edward the Third, Edward the Black Prince, Henry the Sixth, Edward

the Fourth, Henry the Seventh, and Henry the Eighth; with the arms of

England and France quartered, the holy cross, the shield or cross of

Saint George, the rose, portcullis, lion rampant, unicorn, fleur-de-lis,

dragon, and prince's feathers, together with the arms of a multitude of

noble families. In the nave are emblazoned the arms of Henry the Eighth,

and of several knights-companions, among which are those of Charles the

Fifth, Francis the First, and Ferdinand, Infant of Spain. The extreme

lightness and graceful proportions of the pillars lining the aisles

contribute greatly to the effect of this part of the structure.

Beautiful, however, as is the body of the chapel, it is not comparable

to the choir. Here, and on either side, are ranged the stalls of the

knights, formerly twenty-six in number, but now increased to thirty-two,

elaborately carved in black oak, and covered by canopies of the richest

tabernacle-work, supported by slender pillars. On the pedestals is

represented the history of the Saviour, and on the front of the stalls

at the west end of the choir is carved the legend of Saint George; while

on the outside of the upper seat is cut, in old Saxon characters, the

twentieth Psalm in Latin. On the canopies of the stalls are placed the

mantle, helmet, coat, and sword of the knights-companions; and above

them are hung their emblazoned banners. On the back of each stall are

fixed small enamelled plates, graven with the titles of the knights

who have occupied it. The ancient stall of the sovereign was removed in

1788, and a new seat erected.

The altar was formerly adorned with costly hangings of crimson velvet

and gold, but these, together with the consecrated vessels of great

value, were seized by order of Parliament in 1642 amid the general

plunder of the foundation. The service of the altar was replaced by

Charles the Second.

The sovereign's stall is immediately on the right on the entrance to the

choir, and the prince's on the left. The queen's closet is on the

north side above the altar. Beneath it is the beautiful and

elaborately-wrought framework of iron, representing a pair of gates

between two Gothic towers, designed as a screen to the tomb of Edward

the Fourth, and which, though popularly attributed to Quentin Matsys,

has with more justice been assigned to Master John Tressilian.

One great blemish to the chapel exists in the window over the altar,

the mullions and tracery of which have been removed to make way for

dull colourless copies in painted glass of West's designs. Instead of

--"blushing with the blood of kings, And twilight saints, and dim

emblazonings"--steeping the altar in rich suffusion, chequering the

walls and pavement with variegated hues, and filling the whole sacred

spot with a warm and congenial glow, these panes produce a cold,

cheerless, and most disagreeable effect.

The removal of this objectionable feature, and the restoration of

framework and compartments in the style of the original, and enriched

with ancient mellow-toned and many-hued glass in keeping with the place,

are absolutely indispensable to the completeness and unity of character

of the chapel. Two clerestory windows at the east end of the choir,

adjoining the larger window, have been recently filled with stained

glass in much better taste.

The objections above made may be urged with equal force against the east

and west windows of the south aisle of the body of the fane, and the

west window of the north aisle. The glorious west window, composed of

eighty compartments, embellished with figures of kings, patriarchs, and

bishops, together with the insignia of the Garter and the arms of the

prelates--the wreck gathered from all the other windows--and streaming

with the radiance of the setting sun upon the broad nave and graceful

pillars of the aisles--this superb window, an admirable specimen of the

architecture of the age in which it was designed, had well-nigh shared

the fate of the others, and was only preserved from desecration by the

circumstance of the death of the glass-painter. The mullions of this

window being found much decayed, were carefully and consistently

restored during the last year by Mr. Blore, and the ancient stained

glass replaced.

Not only does Saint George's Chapel form a house of prayer and a temple

of chivalry, but it is also the burial-place of kings. At the east end

of the north aisle of the choir is a plain flag, bearing the words--

King Edward IIII. And his Queen Elizabeth Widville.

The coat of mail and surcoat, decorated with rubies and precious stones,

together with other rich trophies once ornamenting this tomb, were

carried off by the Parliamentary plunderers. Edward's queen, Elizabeth

Woodville, it was thought, slept beside him; but when the royal tomb was

opened in 1789, and the two coffins within it examined, the smaller one

was found empty. The queen's body was subsequently discovered in a stone

coffin by the workmen employed in excavating the vault for George the

Third. Edward's coffin was seven feet long, and contained a perfect

skeleton. On the opposite aisle, near the choir door, as already

mentioned, rests the ill-fated Henry the Sixth, beneath an arch

sumptuously embellished by Henry the Eighth, on the key-stone of which

may still be seen his arms, supported by two antelopes connected by a

golden chain. Henry's body was removed from Chertsey, where it was first

interred, and reburied in 1484, with much solemnity, in this spot. Such

was the opinion entertained of his sanctity that miracles were supposed

to be wrought upon his tomb, and Henry the Seventh applied to have

him canonised, but the demands of the Pope were too exorbitant. The

proximity of Henry and Edward in death suggested the following lines to


"Here, o'er the martyr-king the marble weeps, And fast beside him

once-fear'd Edward sleeps; The grave unites, where e'en the grave finds

rest, And mingled here the oppressor and the opprest."

In the royal vault in the choir repose Henry the Eighth and his third

queen Jane Seymour, together with the martyred Charles the First.

Space only permits the hasty enumeration of the different chapels and

chantries adorning this splendid fane. These are Lincoln Chapel, near

which Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, is buried; Oxenbridge

Chapel; Aldworth Chapel; Bray Chapel, where rests the body of Sir

Reginald de Bray, the architect of the pile; Beaufort Chapel, containing

sumptuous monuments of the noble family of that name; Rutland Chapel;

Hastings Chapel; and Urswick Chapel, in which is now placed the cenotaph

of the Princess Charlotte, sculptured by Matthew Wyatt.

In a vault near the sovereign's stall lie the remains of the Duke of

Gloucester, who died in 1805, and of his duchess, who died two years

after him. And near the entrance of the south door is a slab of grey

marble, beneath which lies \one who in his day filled the highest

offices of the realm, and was the brother of a king and the husband of a

queen. It is inscribed with the great name of Charles Brandon.

At the east end of the north aisle is the chapter-house, in which is a

portrait and the sword of state of Edward the Third.

Adjoining the chapel on the east stands the royal tombhouse. Commenced

by Henry the Seventh as a mausoleum, but abandoned for the chapel in

Westminster Abbey, this structure was granted by Henry the Eighth to

Wolsey, who, intending it as a place of burial for himself, erected

within it a sumptuous monument of black and white marble, with eight

large brazen columns placed around it, and four others in the form of


At the time of the cardinal's disgrace, when the building reverted to

the crown, the monument was far advanced towards completion--the vast

sum of 4280 ducats having been paid to Benedetto, a Florentine sculptor,

for work, and nearly four hundred pounds for gilding part of it. This

tomb was stripped of its ornaments and destroyed by the Parliamentary

rebels in 1646; but the black marble sarcophagus forming part of it, and

intended as a receptacle for Wolsey's own remains, escaped destruction,

and now covers the grave of Nelson in a crypt of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

Henry the Eighth was not interred in this mausoleum, but in Saint

George's Chapel, as has just been mentioned, and as he himself directed,

"midway between the state and the high altar." Full instructions

were left by him for the erection of a monument which, if it had been

completed, would have been truly magnificent. The pavement was to be of

oriental stones, with two great steps upon it of the same material. The

two pillars of the church between which the tomb was to be set were to

be covered with bas-reliefs, representing the chief events of the Old

Testament, angels with gilt garlands, fourteen images of the prophets,

the apostles, the evangelists, and the four doctors of the Church, and

at the foot of every image a little child with a basket full of red and

white roses enamelled and gilt. Between these pillars, on a basement of

white marble, the epitaphs of the king and queen were to be written in

letters of gold.

On the same basement were to be two tombs of black touchstone supporting

the images of the king and queen, not as dead, but sleeping, "to show,"

so runs the order, "that famous princes leaving behind them great fame

do never die." On the right hand, at either corner of the tomb, was to

be an angel holding the king's arms, with a great candlestick, and

at the opposite corners two other angels hearing the queen's arms and

candlesticks. Between the two black tombs was to rise a high basement,

like a sepulchre, surmounted by a statue of the king on horseback, in

armour--both figures to be "of the whole stature of a goodly man and

a large horse." Over this statue was to be a canopy, like a triumphal

arch, of white marble, garnished with oriental stones of divers colours,

with the history of Saint John the Baptist wrought in gilt brass upon

it, with a crowning group of the Father holding the soul of the king in

his right hand and the soul of the queen in his left, and blessing them.

The height of the monument was to be twenty-eight feet.

The number of statues was to be one hundred and thirty-four, with

forty-four bas-reliefs. It would be matter of infinite regret that this

great design was never executed, if its destruction by the Parliamentary

plunderers would not in that case have been also matter of certainty.

Charles the First intended to fit up this structure as a royal

mausoleum, but was diverted from the plan by the outbreak of the civil

war. It was afterwards used as a chapel by James the Second, and mass

was publicly performed in it. The ceiling was painted by Verrio, and the

walls highly ornamented; but the decorations were greatly injured by the

fury of an anti-Catholic mob, who assailed the building, and destroyed

its windows, on the occasion of a banquet given to the Pope's nuncio by

the king.

In this state it continued till the commencement of the present century,

when the exterior was repaired by George the Third, and a vault,

seventy feet in length, twenty-eight in width, and fourteen in depth,

constructed within it, for the reception of the royal family. Catacombs,

formed of massive octangular pillars, and supporting ranges of shelves,

line the walls on either side.

At the eastern extremity there are five niches, and in the middle twelve

low tombs. A subterranean passage leads from the vault beneath the choir

of Saint George's altar to the sepulchre. Within it are deposited the

bodies of George the Third and Queen Charlotte, the Princesses Amelia

and Charlotte, the Dukes of Kent and York, and the last two sovereigns,

George the Fourth and William the Fourth.

But to return to the reign of Edward the Fourth, from which the desire

to bring down the history of Saint George's Chapel to the present time

has led to the foregoing digression. About the same time that the chapel

was built, habitations for the dean and canons were erected on the

north-east of the fane, while another range of dwellings for the minor

canons was built at its west end, disposed in the form of a fetterlock,

one of the badges of Edward the Fourth, and since called the Horse-shoe

Cloisters. The ambulatory of these cloisters once displayed a fine

specimen of the timber architecture of Henry the Seventh's time, when

they were repaired, but little of their original character can now be


In 1482 Edward, desirous of advancing his popularity with the citizens

of London, invited the lord mayor and aldermen to Windsor, where he

feasted them royally, and treated them to the pleasures of the chase,

sending them back to their spouses loaded with game.

In 1484 Richard the Third kept the feast of Saint George at Windsor, and

the building of the chapel was continued during his reign.

The picturesque portion of the castle on the north side of the upper

ward, near the Norman Gateway, and which is one of the noblest Gothic

features of the proud pile, was built by Henry the Seventh, whose name

it still bears. The side of this building looking towards the terrace

was originally decorated with two rich windows, but one of them has

disappeared, and the other has suffered much damage.

In 1500 the deanery was rebuilt by Dean Urswick. At the lower end of

the court, adjoining the canons' houses behind the Horse-shoe Cloisters,

stands the Collegiate Library, the date of which is uncertain, though it

may perhaps be referred to this period. The establishment was enriched

in later times by a valuable library, bequeathed to it by the Earl of


In 1506 Windsor was the scene of great festivity, in consequence of the

unexpected arrival of Philip, King of Castile, and his queen, who had

been driven by stress of weather into Weymouth. The royal visitors

remained for several weeks at the castle, during which it continued a

scene of revelry, intermixed with the sports of the chase. At the same

time Philip was invested with the Order of the Garter, and installed in

the chapel of St. George.

The great gateway to the lower ward was built in the commencement of

the reign of Henry the Eighth; it is decorated with his arms and

devices--the rose, portcullis, and fleur-de-lis, and with the bearings

of Catherine of Arragon. In 1522 Charles the Fifth visited Windsor, and

was installed I knight of the Garter.

During a period of dissension in the council, Edward the Sixth was

removed for safety to Windsor by the Lord Protector Somerset, and here,

at a later period, the youthful monarch received a letter from the

council urging the dismissal of Somerset, with which, by the advice of

the Arch-bishop of Canterbury, he complied.

In this reign an undertaking to convey water to the castle from

Blackmore Park, near Wingfield, a distance of five miles, was commenced,

though it was not till 1555, in the time of Mary, that the plan was

accomplished, when a pipe was brought into the upper ward, "and there

the water plenteously did rise thirteen feet high." In the middle of the

court was erected a magnificent fountain, consisting of a canopy

raised upon columns, gorgeously decorated with heraldic ornaments, and

surmounted by a great vane, with the arms of Philip and Mary impaled

upon it, and supported by a lion and an eagle, gilt and painted. The

water was discharged by a great dragon, one of the supporters of the

Tudor arms, into the cistern beneath, whence it was conveyed by pipes to

every part of the castle.

Mary held her court at Windsor soon after her union with Philip of

Spain. About this period the old habitations of the alms-knights on the

south side of the lower quadrangle were taken down, and others erected

in their stead.

Fewer additions were made to Windsor Castle by Elizabeth than might have

been expected from her predilection for it as a place of residence. She

extended and widened the north terrace, where, when lodging within the

castle, she daily took exercise, whatever might be the weather. The

terrace at this time, as it is described by Paul Hentzner, and as it

appears in Norden's view, was a sort of balcony projecting beyond the

scarp of the hill, and supported by great cantilevers of wood.

In 1576 the gallery still bearing her name, and lying between Henry the

Seventh's buildings and the Norman Tower, was erected by Elizabeth. This

portion of the castle had the good fortune to escape the alterations and

modifications made in almost every other part of the upper ward after

the restoration of Charles the Second. It now forms the library. A large

garden was laid out by the same queen, and a small gateway on Castle

Hill built by her--which afterwards became one of the greatest

obstructions to the approach, and it was taken down by George the


Elizabeth often hunted in the parks, and exhibited her skill in archery,

which was by no means inconsiderable, at the butts. Her fondness for

dramatic performances likewise induced her to erect a stage within

the castle, on which plays and interludes were performed. And to her

admiration of the character of Falstaff, and her love of the locality,

the world is indebted for the "Merry Wives of Windsor."

James the First favoured Windsor as much as his predecessors; caroused

within its halls, and chased the deer in its parks; Christian the Fourth

of Denmark was sumptuously entertained by him at Windsor. In this reign

a curious dispute occurred between the king and the dean and chapter

respecting the repair of a breach in the wall, which was not brought

to issue for three years, when, after much argument, it was decided in

favour of the clergy.

Little was done at Windsor by Charles the First until the tenth year of

his reign, when a banqueting-house erected by Elizabeth was taken down,

and the magnificent fountain constructed by Queen Mary demolished. Two

years after wards "a pyramid or lantern," with a clock, hell, and dial,

was ordered to be set up in front of the castle, and a balcony was

erected before the room where Henry the Sixth was born.

In the early part of the year 1642 Charles retired to Windsor to

shield himself from the insults of the populace, and was followed by a

committee of the House of Commons, who prevailed upon him to desist from

the prosecution of the impeached members. On the 23rd of October in

the same year, Captain Fogg, at the head of a Parliamentarian force,

demanded the keys of the college treasury, and, not being able to obtain

them, forced open the doors, and carried off the whole of the plate.

The plunder of the college was completed by Vane, the Parliamentary

governor of the castle, who seized upon the whole of the furniture and

decorations of the choir, rifled the tomb of Edward the Fourth,

stripped off all the costly ornaments from Wolsey's tomb, defaced the

emblazonings over Henry the Sixth's grave, broke the rich painted glass

of the windows, and wantonly destroyed the exquisite woodwork of the


Towards the close of the year 1648 the ill-fated Charles was brought a

prisoner to Windsor, where he remained while preparations were made for

the execrable tragedy soon afterwards enacted. After the slaughter of

the martyr-monarch the castle became the prison of the Earl of Norwich,

Lord Capel, and the Duke of Hamilton, and other royalists and cavaliers.

Cromwell frequently resided within the castle, and often took a moody

and distrustful walk upon the terrace. It was during the Protectorate,

in 1677, that the ugly buildings appropriated to the naval knights, and

standing between the Garter Tower and Chancellor's Tower, were erected

by Sir Francis Crane.