Containing The History Of The Castle From The Reign Of Charles The Second To That Of George The Third

ON the Restoration the castle resumed its splendour, and presented a

striking contrast to the previous gloomy period. The terrace, with its

festive groups, resembled a picture by Watteau, the courts resounded

with laughter, and the velvet sod of the home park was as often pressed

by the foot of frolic beauty as by that of the tripping deer.

Seventeen state apartments were erected by Sir Christopher Wren, under
r /> the direction of Sir John Denham. The ceilings were painted by Verrio,

and the walls decorated with exquisite carvings by Grinling Gibbons. A

grand staircase was added at the same time. Most of the chambers were

hung with tapestry, and all adorned with pictures and costly furniture.

The addition made to the castle by Charles was the part of the north

front, then called the "Star Building," from the star of the Order of

the Garter worked in colours in the front of it, but now denominated the

"Stuart Building," extending eastward along the terrace from Henry the

Seventh's building one hundred and seventy feet. In 1676 the ditch was

filled up, and the terrace carried along the south and east fronts of

the castle.

Meanwhile the original character of the castle was completely destroyed

and Italianised. The beautiful and picturesque irregularities of the

walls were removed, the towers shaved off, the windows transformed into

commonplace circular-headed apertures. And so the castle remained for

more than a century.

Edward the Third's Tower, indifferently called the Earl Marshal's

Tower and the Devil Tower, and used as a place of confinement for state

prisoners, was now allotted to the maids of honour. It was intended by

Charles to erect a monument in honour of his martyred father on the site

of the tomb-house, which he proposed to remove, and 70,000 pounds were

voted by Parliament for this purpose. The design, however, was abandoned

under the plea that the body could not be found, though it was perfectly

well known where it lay. The real motive, probably, was that Charles had

already spent the money.

In 1680 an equestrian statue of Charles the Second, executed by Strada,

at the expense of Tobias Rustat, formerly housekeeper at Hampton Court,

was placed in the centre of the upper ward. It now stands at the lower

end of the same court. The sculptures on the pedestal were designed by

Grinling Gibbons; and Horace Walpole pleasantly declared that the statue

had no other merit than to attract attention to them.

In old times a road, forming a narrow irregular avenue, ran through the

woods from the foot of the castle to Snow Hill but this road having been

neglected during a long series of years, the branches of the trees

and underwood had so much encroached upon it as to render it wholly

impassable. A grand avenue, two hundred and forty feet wide, was planned

by Charles in its place, and the magnificent approach called the Long

Walk laid out and planted.

The only material incident connected with the castle during the reign of

James the Second has been already related.

Windsor was not so much favoured as Hampton Court by William the Third,

though he contemplated alterations within it during the latter part of

his life which it may be matter of rejoicing were never accomplished.

Queen Anne's operations were chiefly directed towards the parks,

in improving which nearly 40,000 pounds were expended. In 1707 the

extensive avenue running almost parallel with the Long Walk, and called

the "Queen's Walk," was planted by her; and three years afterwards

a carriage road was formed through the Long Walk. A garden was also

planned on the north side of the castle. In this reign Sir James

Thornhill commenced painting Charles the Second's staircase with designs

from Ovid's Metamorphoses, but did not complete his task till after the

accession of George the First. This staircase was removed in 1800, to

make way for the present Gothic entrance erected by the elder Wyatt.

The first two monarchs of the house of Hanover rarely used Windsor as a

residence, preferring Hampton Court and Kensington; and even George the

Third did not actually live in the castle, but in the Queen's Lodge--a

large detached building, with no pretension to architectural beauty,

which he himself erected opposite the south terrace, at a cost of nearly

44,000 pounds. With most praiseworthy zeal, and almost entirely at his

own expense, this monarch undertook the restoration of Saint George's

Chapel. The work was commenced in 1787, occupied three years, and

was executed by Mr. Emlyn, a local architect. The whole building was

repaved, a new altar-screen and organ added, and the carving restored.

In 1796 Mr. James Wyatt was appointed surveyor-general of the royal

buildings, and effected many internal arrangements. Externally he

restored Wren's round-headed windows to their original form, and at the

same time gothicized a large portion of the north and south sides of the

upper ward.

Before proceeding further, a word must be said about the parks. The home

park, which lies on the east and north sides of the castle, is about

four miles in circumference, and was enlarged and enclosed with a brick

wall by William the Third. On the east, and nearly on the site of the

present sunk garden, a bowling-green was laid out by Charles the Second.

Below, on the north, were Queen Anne's gardens, since whose time the

declivity of the hill has been planted with forest trees. At the

east angle of the north terrace are the beautiful slopes, with a path

skirting the north side of the home park and leading through charming

plantations in the direction of the royal farm and dairy, the ranger's

lodge, and the kennel for the queen's harriers. This park contains many

noble trees; and the grove of elms in the south-east, near the spot

where the scathed oak assigned to Herne stands, is traditionally

asserted to have been a favourite walk of Queen Elizabeth. It still

retains her name.

The great park is approached by the magnificent avenue called the Long

Walk, laid out, as has been stated, by Charles the Second, and extending

to the foot of Snow Hill, the summit of which is crowned by the colossal

equestrian statue of George the Third, by Westmacott. Not far from this

point stands Cumberland Lodge, which derives its name from William, Duke

of Cumberland, to whom it was granted in 1744. According to Norden's

survey, in 1607, this park contained 3050 acres; but when surveyed by

George the Third it was found to consist of 3800 acres, of which 200

were covered with water. At that time the park was over grown with fern

and rushes, and abounded in bogs and swamps, which in many places were

dangerous and almost impassable. It contained about three thousand head

of deer in bad condition. The park has since been thoroughly drained,

smoothed, and new planted in parts; and two farms have been introduced

upon it, under the direction of Mr. Kent, at which the Flemish and

Norfolk modes of husbandry have been successfully practised.

Boasting every variety of forest scenery, and commanding from its knolls

and acclivities magnificent views of the castle, the great park is

traversed, in all directions, by green drives threading its long

vistas, or crossing its open glades, laid out by George the Fourth.

Amid the groves at the back of Spring Hill, in a charmingly sequestered

situation, stands a small private chapel, built in the Gothic style, and

which was used as a place of devotion by George the Fourth during the

progress of the improvements at the castle, and is sometimes attended by

the present queen.

Not the least of the attractions of the park is Virginia Water, with

its bright and beautiful expanse, its cincture of green banks, soft and

smooth as velvet, its screen of noble woods, its Chinese fishing-temple,

its frigates, its ruins, its cascade, cave, and Druidical temple, its

obelisk and bridges, with numberless beauties besides, which it would be

superfluous to describe here. This artificial mere covers pretty nearly

the same surface of ground as that occupied by the great lake of olden


Windsor forest once comprehended a circumference of a hundred and twenty

miles, and comprised part of Buckinghamshire, a considerable portion

of Surrey, and the whole south-east side of Berkshire, as far as

Hungerford. On the Surrey side it included Chobham and Chertsey, and

extended along the side of the Wey, which marked its limits as far as

Guildford. In the reign of James the First, when it was surveyed by

Norden, its circuit was estimated at seventy-seven miles and a half,

exclusive of the liberties extending into Buckinghamshire. There were

fifteen walks within it, each under the charge of a head keeper, and the

whole contained upwards of three thousand head of deer. It is now almost

wholly enclosed.