A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The authentic history of Windsor Castle cannot be carried back beyond the 11th century. The romantic legends told by Froissart of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table at Windsor lack the foundation of prosaic record, but are interesting as representing the traditions as to the early history of Windsor which were current in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 1)
During the Saxon period, when Edward the Confessor held his court at his hall at Old Windsor, (fn. 2) the site of the later castle formed part of Clewer and was probably forest. On the eve of the Norman Conquest Edward the Confessor had granted Windsor with 20 hides of land in the neighbourhood to the monastery of St. Peter at Westminster, (fn. 3) but in the first year of the new reign King William regained Windsor, giving Westminster in exchange certain lands in Battersea. (fn. 4)
The work at the castle was advanced enough for its use as a royal residence before the end of the 11th century, and about 1095 a prisoner of importance, the Earl of Northumbria, was confined there. (fn. 5) In 1100 William Fitz Walter, who afterwards took the surname of Windsor, the son of the first constable of the castle, was appointed as constable by the Empress Maud. All this seems to make it possible, if not probable, that the sovereigns were residing in the new castle, not in the old palace, on the occasions when their presence at Windsor is mentioned. In 1095 William Rufus kept Whitsuntide at Windsor, where there was a meeting of the Witan (fn. 6) and the king and his court were there for Christmas of the same year. (fn. 7) In 1097 accident brought the king and court to Windsor for Easter. William, sailing from Normandy, had intended to keep Easter at Winchester, but was driven by bad weather to land at Arundel, whence he proceeded to Windsor, holding a great council there soon afterwards. (fn. 8)
Henry I was at Windsor in September 1101, (fn. 9) at Christmas 1104–5 (fn. 10) and Easter 1107. (fn. 11) In the latter of these years he probably began to erect the new buildings which were undertaken about this time. Three years later it would appear that the buildings were sufficiently advanced for the king to keep his court here. (fn. 12) Henceforward, when Windsor is mentioned as a royal residence, Windsor Castle alone is indicated. Henry kept Christmas at Windsor in 1113–14 (fn. 13) and held a council here in April 1114. (fn. 14) On 24 January 1120–1 the marriage of King Henry with his second wife Adeliza of Louvain took place at Windsor, the ceremony being performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who to the Bishop of Salisbury's claim that Windsor Castle was in his diocese successfully opposed the theory that the king and queen were his parishioners wherever they might be. (fn. 15)
The first of the long series of visits paid by foreign sovereigns to the castle took place at Christmas 1126–7, when David, King of Scotland, came here as Henry's guest. King David swore allegiance to the Empress Maud as the king's heir, (fn. 16) and the same oath was taken by the English prelates and nobles. (fn. 17) Henry visited Windsor for the last time at Christmas 1133, the year before his death, and the chronicler reports that the king lay ill for some time at the castle. (fn. 18)
Little is known of the castle during the wars between Stephen and the Empress Maud, but it seems to have been held for the king. (fn. 19) By the treaty of Wallingford (1153) a compromise was arrived at, Stephen recognized Henry as his heir, and the mount (mota) of Windsor and the Tower of London were delivered to Richard de Lucy to be held by him in trust for Henry. (fn. 20) Richard de Lucy remained constable till his death in 1179.
Though Winchester, Westminster and Woodstock were his chief residences, Henry II in the course of his ceaseless journeys about his kingdom visited Windsor fairly often. He was here at Easter in 1166 when William the Lion, formerly Earl of Northumberland, came to do homage, (fn. 21) and in 1170 when he entertained King William of Scotland and his brother Henry. (fn. 22) In 1175 a great council was held here, and ambassadors from the King of Connaught were received, (fn. 23) and the following Christmas King Henry was again at Windsor. (fn. 24) Another great council at Windsor took place in the spring of 1179. (fn. 25) The king was there at Christmas 1184–5, and in the following March, when he knighted his son John. (fn. 26) This was his last visit.
There is no record that Richard I ever resided at Windsor, and during his absence in the East the castle was often the subject of contention between the king's adherents and those of his brother John. In 1193 John rose in rebellion and seized Windsor. (fn. 27) The Archbishop of Rouen, the constable, led the barons in an attempt to recapture it, and after a prolonged siege it was surrendered, John retiring to France. (fn. 28) The castle was then put into the hands of Queen Eleanor in trust for King Richard. (fn. 29) This settlement continued until the end of the reign.
Windsor Castle was closely associated with many of the incidents of John's stormy reign. He seems to have visited the castle more often than any of his predecessors. (fn. 30) He was at Windsor in March and April 1200, in April, (fn. 31) July and October (fn. 32) in the following year, and again in January, April, May, July and November 1205. (fn. 33) There are records of the provisions and wine brought by boat to the castle for the king's use, and a book called the Romance of the History of England was also sent there by the king's orders. (fn. 34) In 1206 King John was at Windsor in March and May, he was there in April and October of 1207, (fn. 35) and at the following Christmas, when he presented robes to his knights. (fn. 36) The next year John only visited Windsor once, in July. In 1209 he was there in March, October and at Christmas time, when, in view of his rumoured excommunication, he entertained the whole body of nobles, endeavouring, according to the chronicler, 'to work evil to all who ab ented themselves from him.' (fn. 37) He was at Windsor again in the February and October of the following year. (fn. 38)
It is about this time that we come to the dark story of the alleged starvation of Maud de Braose and her son William, captured in Ireland in 1210. The chroniclers give very conflicting accounts of the whole affair, (fn. 39) and it is not possible to decide whether Windsor Castle or Corfe Castle was the scene of the tragedy. On the whole it seems probable that the murder took place at Corfe, not Windsor. (fn. 40)
Great preparations were made on the occasion of the king's visit at Christmas 1213. (fn. 41) In 1214 the king was only once at Windsor—in October—but in the following year he was there in March, April and May, during almost the whole of June and in December. (fn. 42) It was in this year that the troubles in the kingdom came to a head. On 9 March the king retired to Windsor from the capital, which was soon afterwards occupied by the barons. In April he moved west to crush a rebellion, returning at the end of May. It was in the month of June that the king began the negotiation with his rebellious barons which ended on 15 June in the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnimede. (fn. 43) Hostilities, however, soon broke out again; the barons abjured their allegiance and sought help from France. Windsor Castle was strongly garrisoned by the king, who visited it in April 1216. (fn. 44) Just after he left the castle he issued Letters Patent, appointing one of his unpopular foreign favourites, Engelard de Cygony, as constable of Windsor Castle and keeper of the forest. (fn. 45) This was in direct contravention of the Great Charter, the fiftieth clause of which had mentioned Cygony among the foreigners to whom no office was to be given.
The invasion of England by Louis of France on 21 May 1216 was followed by the siege of Windsor Castle, which was held for the king by Fawkes de Breauté, a Norman adventurer, and one of the chief of John's evil counsellors, who filled the castle with a strong garrison of foreign mercenaries. The army of the barons was led by the Count of Nevers; siege engines were brought close up to the castle and the defences were fiercely attacked. Engelard de Cygony, the constable, was a skilful military commander and strove to drive the enemy further from the walls. The siege seems to have lasted from June to September, when it was raised, and on the death of the king in October it was still in the hands of his adherents. (fn. 46)
The constables, in this disturbed time, had very wide powers and ruled with a strong hand. They were often appointed as farmers of the whole bailiwick of Windsor; thus their sway extended far and wide and the neighbouring manors groaned under their exactions and depredations. (fn. 47)
The reign of Henry III was an important one for the history of the castle. In the first and last years of the reign it played a part in the disturbances between the king and the barons, and in the intervening period there was great activity in building operations. In 1216 the castle was held by Fawkes de Breauté for the young king and the Regent, William Earl of Pembroke, against Louis of France, the war ending in the peace signed at Lambeth on 11 September 1217. There are many records of Henry's visits to Windsor, the first of which seems to have been in 1229, when he stayed three weeks. After the king's marriage (in 1236) his children lived at Windsor, and his son Edward was brought up there under the care of Hugh Giffard. (fn. 48) When about a year old the prince was visited at Windsor by Thomas of Savoy, Count of Flanders; the queen's uncle, Peter of Savoy, also visited Windsor in 1242. (fn. 49) Walter de Dya was appointed in 1240 as joint governor to the prince, his duties being at the same time defined. (fn. 50) The number of horses kept in the castle was regarded as a source of danger to the prince's health, and in 1241 the king ordered that no horse should be allowed to remain within the walls during the months of August and September, and that as soon as rainy weather moved. (fn. 51) The other children of the king also lived at Windsor, (fn. 52) as well as many of the king's wards.
To celebrate the feast of St. Edward in 1242, the king ordered that the great hall of the castle should be filled with poor old men and the small hall with poor children and that all should be sufficiently fed. (fn. 53)
The king was at Windsor before going abroad in 1242, (fn. 54) and on his return from the disastrous war in France, in the following year he held a council at Windsor on the morrow of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. (fn. 55) The powers for negotiating a treaty with France in 1257 were issued by the king from Windsor. (fn. 56) In 1256 during the king's absence the queen entertained her daughter the Queen of Scotland and her husband Alexander III of Scotland at Windsor. While there the Queen of Scotland gave birth to a daughter, Margaret, afterwards Queen of Norway. In 1257 the queen lay ill at the castle with pleurisy. Ambassadors were dispatched from Windsor to Louis of France on the conclusion of the peace in 1259. (fn. 57) Later in the year the king assembled a great council of nobles at Windsor, while the rebel barons met at St. Albans. (fn. 58)
In March 1261 the king was at Windsor and later in the year the castle was the scene of an important conference between the king and his barons. (fn. 59) Two years later the barons broke into open rebellion, and the young Edward, hastening from London, and carrying with him his wife, Eleanor of Castile, the queen's jewels and a large sum of money, threw himself into Windsor Castle, which he garrisoned with a large body of Flemish troops, whose depredations in the countryside are set down by the chroniclers. (fn. 60) By the terms of the arrangement arrived at before the end of the year 1262 Windsor and the other royal castles should have been surrendered to the barons. The prince tried to keep the castle. Large sums were spent on munitions of war, (fn. 61) but it was besieged by Simon de Montfort and had to be surrendered on 26 July 1263, the prince's foreign garrison being dismissed. (fn. 62) In October the king was again at Windsor, summoning his supporters to meet him there, and in November the prince again garrisoned the castle. (fn. 63) Before January 1263–4 the royal forces had been withdrawn from Windsor, (fn. 64) and by the king's defeat in the battle of Lewes the chief power in England passed to Simon de Montfort. King Henry was virtually though not nominally his prisoner. Eleanor the wife of Edward, to whom the king had given the custody of the castle in June, (fn. 65) was ordered to leave Windsor, with the king's sister Joan, wife of William de Valence. (fn. 66) Simon de Montfort's son and others of his adherents who had been imprisoned there were released. (fn. 67) In November 1264 the captive king was at Windsor, when he was forced to write a letter to the queen forbidding her to raise money for his cause by selling or pledging any of his French fiefs, (fn. 68) but in the following year the tide turned. The battle of Evesham, 3 August 1265, restored the king to liberty and authority, and in September 1265 he was at Windsor at the head of a powerful force, (fn. 69) with which he intended to punish the city of London for the support that it had given to his foes. (fn. 70) The City sent delegates to express its submission, who had to wait outside the castle from 1 o'clock until the evening, when they were admitted, being confined for the night in a tower 'where they had small cheer and worse lodging.' (fn. 71) Only thirty-one of the citizens were allowed to return to London; nine of them, including the mayor, remained as prisoners. Four were released in January 1265–6, (fn. 72) the other five remained in the castle until 1269, when they bought their ransom from Edward. (fn. 73) In 1285 other citizens of London were imprisoned at Windsor by the king. (fn. 74) During these later years of the reign of Henry III Eleanor, the prince's wife, resided constantly at the castle, and many of her children were born there. (fn. 75) In May 1266 the notorious outlaw, Adam Gurdon, was brought as a prisoner to the castle by Edward. Windsor was once more the head quarters of the royal army at the time of the Earl of Gloucester's rebellion in 1267. (fn. 76)
During the reign of Edward I Windsor was the permanent home of the royal children during their early years. (fn. 77) The king's mother, Queen Eleanor, also spent much of her time there. Edward did not return to England until August 1274, and his first visit to Windsor took place in the autumn of that year, but a coronation feast was held at the castle at Easter in 1274–5, for which great preparations were made. (fn. 78) On 9 July 1278 the castle was the scene of a splendid tournament in Windsor Park, in which thirty-eight knights, many of whom were Crusaders, took part. The accounts for the purchase of arms and accoutrements on this occasion have already been printed. (fn. 79) The armour of the knights was very magnificent, the bridles of their horses being adorned with little bells and the saddles richly embroidered.
A visit from Edmund Earl of Cornwall to the castle being proposed in 1282, the constable was ordered 'to be attentive to him till further order.' (fn. 80) In January 1281 the ambassadors of Llewellyn Prince of Wales were received at the castle by the constable on their way to London. (fn. 81) Queen Eleanor was at the castle in the month following. (fn. 82) Alphonzo, the king's eldest son, died at Windsor in 1284. (fn. 83) Thirty pounds' worth of provisions (fn. 84) were taken into the tioned by Stow as having done much damage to the castle in 1295 does not seem to be elsewhere recorded. (fn. 85)
The queen spent the winter of 1299–1300 at Windsor, the king being at Berwick. (fn. 86) In February following the king arrived and a royal offering to the cross of 'Gneyth,' which was then in the chapel of the castle, is recorded. (fn. 87) This cross, which is here mentioned for the first time, was reputed to be a piece of the true cross, and had been given to the king when in Wales by certain Welsh princes. During the reign of Edward I it was taken by the king on all his progresses; in the reign of his son it was kept in the Tower of London. Edward III gave it to the chapel at Windsor, where it afterwards remained the most venerated of the relics preserved there. Various royal offerings made to the cross are on record. It was probably the 'very cross' on which Philip of Castile swore to the treaty of 1506 in the reign of Henry VII. In January of the same year (1299–1300) Edward the prince was at Windsor with the queen, and the Wardrobe Accounts contain references to payments made for the transport of the prince's household, his knights and clerk by water from Windsor to London. (fn. 88) Edward's second queen, Margaret, spent some time at Windsor, and accounts of her expenditure there between 20 November 1299 and 12 April following have been preserved. (fn. 89)
Edward II kept Christmas at Windsor in 1308, 1309, 1312 and 1314. (fn. 90) On 13 November 1312 his eldest son, afterwards Edward III, was born in the castle, being christened in the chapel of St. Edward. (fn. 91) The prince, who spent his infancy here, (fn. 92) was often afterwards known as Edward of Windsor. In April 1317 King Edward was at Windsor hunting in the forest and transacting business relating to Ireland. (fn. 93) He was here again in the following February. (fn. 94) In 1324 when here he received the Great Seal surrendered by the chancellor and handed it to his successor. In 1323 there was an inquiry into a plot to seize Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, and other royal castles on the part of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore. (fn. 95) Two years later John de Lisle was imprisoned at Windsor. (fn. 96) The king's last visit seems to have been in July 1326, when Letters Patent were issued from the manor-house in Windsor Park. (fn. 97)
The reign of Edward III was a very important period in the history of the castle. In this reign the order of the Garter (fn. 98) and the college of St. George were founded, and there was a great activity in building, which added two wards to the castle. The castle was apparently the favourite residence of the king, and he seems to have been constantly there even during the building operations which covered so many years. (fn. 99) Queen Philippa was there in November 1331. (fn. 100) During the king's absence in 1338 the castle was garrisoned with ten men-at-arms and twenty archers. (fn. 101) The wages of this force were still unpaid after nearly a year's service. (fn. 102)
In January 1343–4 and in the spring of the following year Windsor was the scene of elaborate tournaments and rejoicings in connexion with the assembly of the Knights of the Round Table established by the king in imitation of the Arthurian legends. (fn. 103) The assembly began with a feast in the great hall to all the ladies present, while the Prince of Wales and the lords and knights were entertained in a tent. For three days the king and nineteen other knights held the lists against all comers. On Thursday the king made a great supper at which he began his Round Table and enrolled such lords and knights as he wished to be of it when it should be held again, which was to be on the feast of Pentecost next after. He also proposed to have a building in which the Round Table could be held. (fn. 104) He held another Round Table at Windsor in 1345.
In October 1346 Edward returned in triumph from France, and a series of tournaments were held at Windsor and elsewhere. (fn. 105) The date of the foundation of the Order of the Garter seems to have been 24 June 1348. (fn. 106)
In May 1348 the queen gave birth to her fourth son, William, at the castle. David King of Scots, who had been taken prisoner at Neville's Cross in 1346, was present at the festivities which followed and remained a prisoner in the castle for eleven years, becoming English in sentiment and falling entirely under the king's influence. (fn. 107) John, King of France, with his son Philip, who had been taken at the battle of Poitiers, were also prisoners at Windsor, and according to a chronicler the two kings, when riding with King Edward in Windsor Park in 1366–7, pointed out a better site for the castle than the one it occupied 'as being on higher ground, and more open to see and to be seen afar off.' The king approved their sayings, adding pleasantly that it should be so, and that he would bring his castle thither; that is to say, enlarge it so far with two other wards, 'the charge whereof should be borne with their two ransoms, as after it came to pass.' (fn. 108) In November 1357 David King of Scots was ransomed, but the King of France remained for some years longer at Windsor with his son and many of the nobles of his court. He was allowed a great deal of liberty, and hunted and hawked in Windsor Park. (fn. 109) In his honour the feast of St. George was celebrated at Windsor in 1358 with unusual magnificence. (fn. 110) The tournaments attracted many visitors, among whom were the King and Queen of Scotland. (fn. 111) Shortly after John King of France was discovered to be communicating privately with France, and he was removed from Windsor to closer confinement at Hertford.
The marriage of Edward the Black Prince with his cousin Joan Countess of Kent took place at Windsor on 10 October 1361. (fn. 112) Among other events were the marriage of the king's eldest daughter Isabella in 1365 and the death of Queen Philippa 15 August 1369. Froissart gives a touching account of the passing of 'the good Queen of England, that so many good deeds had done in her time,' and of her parting words to the king. (fn. 113) In the following year, 1370–1, the Black Prince, broken in health, returned to England and was received by the king at Windsor. (fn. 114) In 1371 and 1372 the king was in residence at the castle keeping the feasts of St. George with great pomp and remaining there for many months. (fn. 115) He was again at Windsor on 23 April 1374. (fn. 116)
William of Wykeham, who had been appointed surveyor of the works in October 1356, held that office until 1358, (fn. 117) when he was appointed chief warden and surveyor of several royal castles as well as that of Windsor (fn. 118) (a new surveyor of the works being appointed to hold office under him). He held office until 1362, and seems to have guided and controlled the course of the work to a very large extent. There are several traditions connecting him with different parts of the building, including the wellknown story of his explanation of the inscription 'Hoc fecit Wykeham' as meaning that the work made Wykeham. (fn. 119) It certainly brought him honours and preferment.
Richard II visited Windsor in the August following his accession. (fn. 120) He kept Christmas of 1378 at Windsor, and in the same year held a council there. (fn. 121) In 1380 the marriage of the king's half-sister Lady Maud Courtenay with Waleran Count of St. Pol was celebrated at Windsor. (fn. 122) The news of the revolt led by Wat Tyler in 1381 found Richard at Windsor. He left hastily for the capital, where he took up his quarters in the Tower and played a prominent part in dispersing the rebels. After his marriage to Anne of Bohemia, which took place at Westminster on 14 January 1382, the king, we are told, 'carried the queen to Windsor, where he kept an open and noble house.' A great council at which the invasion of France by the king in person was discussed, but abandoned, was held at Windsor later in the year. (fn. 123) In 1387 the king was at Windsor for some days on his way from Wales to London, where he returned to deal with the disaffection rumoured in the capital. On St. George's Day in the same year a deputation of citizens from London, York and other cities came to the king at Windsor by the advice of the Duke of Gloucester to remonstrate with the king on the misdeeds of his unpopular advisers, their spokesman being Simon de Sudbury, a citizen of London. They were received by the king in the lower hall in the older part of the castle.
In October 1386 Michael de la Pole Earl of Suffolk was impeached and imprisoned at Windsor Castle, but he was released by Richard as soon as Parliament was dissolved. (fn. 124)
The next time Richard was at Windsor seems to have been in 1387, when, after the defeat of his adherents, his uncles persuaded him to return to the capital. As a result of a later quarrel with the city of London two of its mayors were put out of office by the king's orders and lodged in his castle of Windsor. A deputation of citizens had to come there and be examined by the king's council, and finally they offered the submission of the City, which was restored to favour at the price of £10,000, 'collected of the Commons in great bitterness of mind.' (fn. 125)
Windsor was appointed for the holding of the Court of Chivalry to decide the famous quarrel between Henry of Lancaster, afterwards Henry IV, and the Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 126) The king was seated on a platform in the courtyard of the castle, surrounded by prelates and nobles, and, having tried to reconcile them in vain, ordered that the quarrel should be fought out at Coventry on 16 September following. (fn. 127)
Froissart gives a gloomy account of the last tournament held by Richard at Windsor, on St. George's Day 1399, on the eve of his departure for Ireland. Though the tournament had been proclaimed throughout the realm, the king's unpopularity led to its being very poorly attended. The king's parting with his young and beautiful queen Isabella is described with some pathos in the pages of a contemporary chronicler. (fn. 128) In July 1399 Henry of Lancaster landed, and Richard, deserted by his army, submitted on 19 August. (fn. 129) During the reign of Henry IV the young Earl of March, heir presumptive to Richard, was imprisoned in the castle with one of his brothers. (fn. 130) Henry IV kept the Christmas of 1399 at Windsor. A tournament announced for Twelfth Night was the occasion chosen by Richard's supporters, led by the Earls of Kent, Huntingdon and Salisbury, for an attempt to assassinate the king and his sons. The guised as mummers, but their plan was betrayed and on the arrival of the Mayor of London the king hastily left the castle and set out for London, where he arrived late that night, Sunday, 4 January. (fn. 131) On the following morning the rebellious earls entered Windsor Castle unopposed with about 500 horse, hoping to find the king there. They searched the royal apartments, and even the houses of the canons, on the chance that he might be in hiding somewhere in the castle, and, not finding him, retired before the advancing royal army to Chichester, where the leaders were captured and beheaded. (fn. 132)
A strange story is told of another attempt on the king's life at Windsor in September 1400, an instrument called a 'caltrappe, an iron with three branches so sharp that whenever the king had turned him it should slay him,' being concealed in his bed supposedly by a member of Queen Isabella's household. (fn. 133) In February 1405 there was yet another plot. Constance Countess of Gloucester obtained access to the imprisoned Earl of March and his brother by the use of false keys, released them and took them with her to Wales in the hope of placing them in the hands of Owen Glendower. The countess and the princes, however, were pursued and captured. The smith who made the false keys lost first his hands and then his head. (fn. 134)
In 1404 Windsor was mentioned in a petition by the House of Commons to the king among the castles that were ruinous and in great need of repair, the case of Windsor being specially grave owing to the fact that the money assigned for its repair had been granted by the king to private individuals. (fn. 135)
In the spring of 1406, after keeping the feast of St. George at Windsor, the king was taken ill with sciatica. (fn. 136) He wrote from his manor in Windsor Park (fn. 137) to the council, telling them he had hurt his leg, and in addition had had a sudden attack of ague, which prevented his riding. He hoped, however, to reach London by water in the course of a few days. (fn. 138) The king's illness was more serious than he at first thought, and it incapacitated him for most of the summer. During the remaining years of the reign Henry was rarely at Windsor, preferring his favourite palace of Eltham. Large numbers of prisoners were confined in the castle at this period, including many Scotch and Welsh captives. (fn. 139)
On the accession of Henry V the Earl of March was released from his long captivity at Windsor. (fn. 140) In August of the same year James the eldest son of the King of Scots (afterwards James IV of Scotland), who had been confined in the Tower of London for several years, was brought as a prisoner to Windsor, where he remained in honourable captivity for eleven years. (fn. 141) The king allowed him £500 a year for his expenses, and he was present at Westminster as a guest at the queen's coronation in 1421. In the same year he was knighted at Windsor. (fn. 142) James's poem, 'The King's Quair,' tells the story of his love for Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, who later became Queen of Scotland. He is said to have seen her first from his room in the Maiden's or Devil's tower. The poem contains a description of the 'gardyn fair with hawthorn hegis knet,' which lay underneath the walls.
The French princes—the Dukes of Bourbon and Orleans—and other nobles taken at the battle of Agincourt were brought to the castle as prisoners in 1415. In the following year the king entertained at Windsor Sigismund, King of the Romans, who was chosen as a companion of the Garter. A contemporary chronicler gives an account of the banquets at the castle and of the elaborate dishes placed before the king and emperor. The latter had brought with him a relic said to have been the heart of St. George, which was preserved at Windsor until the Reformation. (fn. 143) The 'great multitude of people, strangers and others,' entertained by the king on this occasion was so overwhelming that he wrote before-hand to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor asking that their 'logyns and mansions' should be prepared for the reception of his guests. (fn. 144)
On 6 December 1421 Queen Katherine, who had been residing at Windsor during the king's absence in France, gave birth to a son who afterwards became Henry VI. Influenced by the prophecy that 'Henry born at Windsor shall long reign and all lose,' the king is said to have suggested that the queen's confinement should not take place there. (fn. 145) The queen stayed at Windsor until May 1422, when she left England for France, the infant prince remaining in the castle under the care of his uncle the Duke of Bedford.
An inventory of the king's property taken on his death, in the following year, contains a minute description of the tapestries and silver plate then in the castle. (fn. 146) The latter included silver dishes, covered cups, basins, ewers, spice-plates, saucers, salt-cellars, and so on, many of the pieces being engraved with the king's arms. (fn. 147)
Henry VI, who was only nine months old at his accession, remained at Windsor until 13 November 1423, when he was taken to London by the queen for the opening of Parliament. (fn. 148) There is a tradition that the baby king, who with the queen had lodged at Staines on Saturday night, refused to travel on a Sunday—he 'schriked and cryed and sprang and wold nought be caryed forthere, wherefore he was borne ageyne into the inne, and there he bood the Soneday al day.' On the Monday he gave his royal consent to travel, and was borne out to his mother's litter, 'being thanne gladde and merye chered.' (fn. 149) The long imprisonment of James of Scotland at Windsor ended at this time.
At a council held in May 1428 the castles of Windsor and Berkhampstead were assigned as summer residences for the young king, Wallingford and Hertford being named for the winter. (fn. 150) The Earl of Warwick was given the post of the king's 'master' or tutor, his appointment containing the following provision: 'We give him full power authority licence and directions reasonably to chastise us from time to time according to his discretion.' (fn. 151) It was arranged that the king's wards should be brought up at court about his person, so that Windsor became an 'academy for the young nobility.' (fn. 152) A notice of certain French players and dancers performing before the king on St. George's Day is interesting. (fn. 153) In 1430 the king was absent in France, where he was crowned, and for many years no event of importance took place at Windsor. (fn. 154)
During the illness which began in 1453 (fn. 155) the king resided at Windsor. His son Edward, then three months old, was brought to him there in January 1453–4, but the king was unable to recognize him. The lords 'departed thens without any answere or countenance savyng only that ones he loked on the prince and caste doune his eyene ayen wtout any more.' (fn. 156) Three physicians and two surgeons were authorized to administer powerful drugs to the king, but without success, (fn. 157) and in March the Duke of York was elected as protector. (fn. 158) In June of the same year the king was being attended at Windsor by Gilbert Keymer, Dean of Salisbury, 'an expert, notable, and proved man in the craft of medicine.' (fn. 159) About Christmas time he recovered, recognizing the queen and the Prince of Wales. (fn. 160)
During the Wars of the Roses almost the whole of Berkshire was loyal to the House of Lancaster, (fn. 161) and the castle remained throughout in the king's hands, being visited by him occasionally. By March 1461 Edward IV was proclaimed king, and Henry's reign was at an end, Windsor becoming the new king's residence. The restoration of 1470 was brief, and on 21 May 1471 Henry VI was murdered. (fn. 162)
Among the prisoners kept in the castle in the reign of Henry VI were several people accused of witchcraft and sorcery, the best known of them being Margery Jourdemain, the witch of Eye, who, though released soon after her first imprisonment in 1431, was later charged with being concerned in the sorceries of the Duchess of Devonshire, and was burnt in 1441. (fn. 163) Other prisoners were Welsh rebels, Fleet Street brawlers and the men concerned in Jack Cade's rebellion. (fn. 164) Those imprisoned by order of the castle court were lodged in the 'Colehouse' in the lower ward. The dean and chapter confined their prisoners in St. George's chapel. (fn. 165)
Edward IV was often at Windsor, (fn. 166) and there are many notices of his hunting in the park and forest. In 1473 King Edward was hunting there with the Archbishop of York, who a few days later was ordered to return to Windsor, accused of having been concerned in the Earl of Oxford's conspiracy, and imprisoned in the castle, whence he was sent to Calais. The next state prisoner was Queen Margaret the wife of Henry VI, who was afterwards transferred to Wallingford. The visit of Louis de Bruges, Governor of Holland, who had entertained Edward IV in exile, in September 1472, was attended with much ceremonial. (fn. 167) Rooms were prepared for him 'on the further side of the quadrant' hung with rich tapestry and furnished with 'Beddes of astate.' In the evening the guests visited the queen's chamber where the king danced with his seven-year old daughter Elizabeth, afterwards the wife of Henry VII. The governor heard mass in the royal chapel and afterwards received as a gift from the king a gold cup adorned with pearls and with a piece of unicorn's horn, which was said to be a protection against poison. Later he went hunting in the Little Park, riding the king's own horse, which Edward presented to him. They dined in the royal lodge and hunted again in the afternoon, slaying half-a-dozen bucks which they coursed with greyhounds and buckhounds. In the evening the king showed his guest his garden and 'Vineyard of Pleasour,' and the day ended with a great banquet in the queen's chamber, which was evidently the largest room then existing in the castle. The elaborate furnishing of the guests' beds, with their coverlets of cloth of gold furred with ermine, testers of shining cloth of gold and curtains of white sarcenet, their baths, in which they remained 'as longe as was there Pleasour,' and their final meal of 'grene gynger, divers Cyryppes, Comfyttes and Ipocras,' are all minutely described. (fn. 168) A full account of the celebration of the feast of St. George in 1476 has been given by Stow. (fn. 169)
The king's last visit to Windsor seems to have been in August 1480. (fn. 170) He died on 9 April 1483, leaving directions in his will that his body should be buried in St. George's Chapel 'lowe in the grounde and upon the same a stone to be laied and wrought with the figure of Dethe.' The effigy on his tomb was to be of silver or at least copper gilded, and places for twelve persons to sit or kneel were to be provided near the tomb. The monument was made before the king's death, but was apparently never completed, and it remained without an inscription. A gorgeous coat of mail, adorned with gold, pearls and rubies, which had belonged to the dead king, hung above his tomb until the chapel was plundered by the Cromwellian soldiers. An account of the king's funeral, which took place at Windsor on 14 April 1483, has already been printed several times. (fn. 171) Appointments to the usual minor offices are found at this time. (fn. 172)
William Lord Hastings, who was executed by order of Richard Duke of Gloucester, was buried at Windsor in June 1483, and the chapel of St. Stephen, often called the Hastings Chapel, was built to his memory by his widow and son.
The appointment of a virger to carry the rod before the king on the feast of St. George is the only other notice of the brief reign of Edward V that has been found. (fn. 173)
During the first disturbed years of his reign Henry VII was very little at Windsor, and in later life he preferred his palace of Sheen, later re-named Richmond. There are contemporary accounts of the splendid way in which Henry VII kept the feast of St. George at Windsor in 1488. (fn. 174) The king was at the castle again at Whitsuntide and in November of the same year. Ambassadors from Portugal were entertained there in 1489 and a treaty of peace was signed there in August. (fn. 175) Elizabeth widow of Edward IV was buried at Windsor in 1492 with much less than the usual pomp and ceremony, at eleven o'clock at night. Her body was brought to Windsor by water, and was taken through the Little Park to the castle without any tolling of bells. Two days later three of her daughters came to take part in services, the queen, who was indisposed, being absent. (fn. 176)
The narrative by Richmond Herald of the visit of Philip and Juana of Castile to Windsor in 1506 gives a word picture of the interior of the castle. (fn. 177) The story shows the two kings—Henry had gone to meet his guest—alighting at the 'first gate' of the castle and passing through the 'Neder Gallery' towards the hall, where a magnificent array of plate was on view, then up the stairs and through the upper gallery to the king's great chamber. They passed through three bedchambers in the king's New Tower, to a fourth which was hung with rich cloth of gold bordered with crimson velvet, where the King of Castile was lodged. Among the other rooms mentioned are the king's 'Secrete Chamber,' his dining chamber, and an inner chamber opening from it where the royal ladies sat, the closets in which both kings heard mass in private, and a room for playing tennis with a gallery for spectators. The narrative gives details of the amusements provided by Henry for his guest, hunting in the park, masques, dancing, tennis-playing, and 'baiting a horse with a bear,' and of the elaborate courtesies exchanged by the two kings. The visit included the installation of the King of Castile as a knight of the Garter with great splendour.
In 1510 Henry VIII paid his first visit to the castle which is associated with many of the chief events of the reign. (fn. 178) We hear of the king 'exercising himself daily in shooting, singing, dancing, wrestling, casting of the bar, playing at the recorders, flute, virginals, in setting of songs and making of ballards; he did set two full masses, every of them with five parts, which were sung oftentimes in his chapels.' (fn. 179) The young king and his brilliant court were often at the castle in the early years of the reign. (fn. 180) Thomas Heneage wrote of him thus to Wolsey: 'His Grace, euery after noone, when the wether ys any thyng feyer, dooth ride ffurthe on hawking or walkyth in the Parke, and cummyth not inne ageyne till yt be late in the evenying.' (fn. 181) The king sent many gifts of stags from Windsor to his friends, and when he was in residence at other palaces vension was sent to him from here. (fn. 182)
In 1517 the king was here much longer than usual to avoid the sickness which was raging in London. (fn. 183) He was at the castle from January to Easter in the following year, (fn. 184) and received the Venetian ambassador in June 1519. (fn. 185)
The feasts of St. George were kept with great splendour. The crowd of nobles and courtiers who rode with the king to Windsor in May 1519 was so great that each nobleman was restricted to a certain number of horses according to his rank, 'in consideration of a scarcyte and straitnes of Lodgings as well as in avoyding and eschewing of the corrupt air,' a duke being limited to sixty horses for himself and his train, a marquess to fifty and so according to their rank. (fn. 186)
In 1522 the Emperor Charles V visited the king and was entertained at Windsor. After two days' hunting in the park, on Sunday night there was a 'disguising' in the great hall of the castle followed by a masque. The emperor as a knight of the Garter attended services in St. George's. (fn. 187) The Treaty of Windsor (19 June 1522) signed on the occasion, (fn. 188) providing that the emperor should marry the Princess Mary, was later repudiated by Charles. (fn. 189)
It was at Windsor that Henry received as a present from the new Pope Clement VII 'a tree forged of fine gold and wrought with branches, leaves and flowers resembling Roses … in the uppermost Rose was a faire Sapphire … of the bigness of an acorn,' which was given into the keeping of the master of the jewel house.
Henry Duke of Richmond, the king's illegitimate son, spent much of his time at Windsor, and the poems of his friend the Earl of Surrey contain many allusions to the time they had spent together at 'proud Windsor' and 'the large green courts' where they had lingered 'with eyes cast up into the Maidens' Tower.' (fn. 190) Richmond was installed a knight of the Garter in June 1525. (fn. 191) A visit of French ambassadors to Windsor took place early in 1528. They went, by Henry's desire, to hunt in the park there, 'which place with the order thereof they much commended,' and were entertained at dinner in the lodge. (fn. 192) Francis I of France was installed by proxy on 28 January 1527–8.
Henry was often at Windsor in the following years, (fn. 193) and the chronicler Hall reports that Henry left Queen Katherine at Windsor on 14 July 1531 without saying good-bye to her, and that after this day 'the king and she never saw together.' Though it has been shown that the date given by Hall is inexact, it is clear that the separation between the king and queen took place about this time. (fn. 194) Anne Boleyn had accompanied the king when he left Windsor on 17 July, and in August the queen was ordered to leave the castle. (fn. 195) Anne Boleyn was created Marchioness of Pembroke in 'the chamber of Salutation which they commonly call the Presence' (fn. 196) at Windsor on 1 September in the following year, in the presence of the French ambassador and a great train of nobles.
Henry and Anne were at Windsor in July and August 1533, during an outbreak of the sweating sickness. They left at the end of August, going by water to Westminster, the court on the last Sunday of the visit being entertained at dinner by the Dean of St. George's Chapel. (fn. 197) In 1535 the king was at Windsor in June and July, going thence on a progress to the West, (fn. 198) and in October he was there again when the King of Scotland was installed by proxy a knight of the Garter. (fn. 199) In September 1535 the adjournment of Parliament to Windsor was rumoured. (fn. 200)
At the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace, in 1536, the king was at Windsor, and ordnance and ammunition were sent to the castle by his orders. (fn. 201) A Windsor butcher who showed sympathy with the rebels was hanged on a new gallows set up at the end of the drawbridge across the castle ditch, just before the gate of the castle. Henry stayed at Windsor till December, but went to Greenwich for Christmas. (fn. 202)
In September 1537 the plague appeared in the castle; one of the vicars choral fell sick and was sent off to Bray. (fn. 203)
In November Queen Jane Seymour was buried at Windsor in the quire of St. George's Chapel. The funeral train, consisting of most of the great nobles of the court and their attendants, with the Princess Mary as chief mourner, and 200 poor men wearing the late queen's badge, entered Windsor on the evening of Monday 12 November. The mayor and brethren, with lighted torches, met the procession at the bridge foot, and the dean and chapter met it at the outer gate of the castle. (fn. 204) The burial took place on the following day; the usual effigy was borne above the coffin, dressed in robes of state with a golden crown on its head, a sceptre in its right hand, the fingers covered with jewelled rings. (fn. 205) The Princess Mary stayed with the king at Windsor until the New Year. (fn. 206)
Embassies from Bavaria, Saxony and Cleves visited Henry in the autumn of 1539. (fn. 207) On 24 September the treaty relating to the king's marriage with Anne of Cleves was signed at the castle. (fn. 208)
In August of the following year the king was at Windsor with his new queen Catherine Howard, and he seems to have stayed there until November, many Privy Council meetings being held in the castle. (fn. 209) A man who had 'spoken unfitting words of the queen's grace' and a page who spoke traitorous words against the king's majesty were imprisoned in the castle at this time. (fn. 210) During the latter part of this visit an outbreak of plague in London seems to have affected Windsor to some extent.
In August 1542 the ambassador of the King of Scots was with Henry at Windsor, meeting with an ill reception, a place of confinement being prepared for him in one of the towers, on the pretext that he had only come to spy. (fn. 211)
From September to November 1545 the king was at Windsor, and the Privy Council met there many times.
In September the king ordered that Parliament should meet at Windsor on 23 November, but on 6 October he changed his mind and directed that it should meet at Westminster as usual. (fn. 212)
At the king's death the body was brought from London to Windsor on 16 February 1547, the funeral train being four miles long. (fn. 213) The royal tomb, the model for which is described in detail by Speed, (fn. 214) was never finished.
Inventories of 'the stuff of the Wardrobe of Beds' at Windsor in 1539 and 1543 survive. (fn. 215)
In 1540 a number of manors were annexed to the lordship of Windsor Castle by Henry VIII: the manors of Langley Marish and Wyrardisbury in Buckinghamshire and Cookham and Bray in Berkshire, which had been held by Queen Jane Seymour; the manors of Taplow and Upton, with the parsonage of Upton, which had belonged to the monastery of Merton; the manor of Datchet in Buckinghamshire which had belonged to the nunnery of St. Helen's, London; and the manors of Holmer and Burnham, which had belonged to the monastery of Burnham. (fn. 216)
During his short reign Edward VI spent little time at Windsor, his visits taking place in the summer. (fn. 217)
Somerset's misgovernment and his usurpation of supreme power led to remonstrances from the other members of the council who had been named as executors in the late king's will and appointed joint guardians of the young king. Anticipating attack, the Protector suddenly moved the young king from Hampton Court to Windsor on the night of Sunday, 6 October 1549. The Protector's next actions gave grave ground for suspicion. He threw into the castle a strong force of his own supporters, sent letters to the leaders of the army which was suppressing the Devonshire rising urging them to come to Windsor, and to the Lord Mayor of London asking for a force of 1,000 men. Further, the king's guards were removed from attendance, the Protector surrounded himself with his own guards, all fully armed, and proclamations were issued in the king's name ordering his subjects to rise and 'defend the Crown.' (fn. 218) There was a rumour that Somerset meant to take the king out of England. (fn. 219) The situation was critical, but the lords acted promptly. The provisions necessary for the king's presence, neglected by Somerset in his sudden move, were sent to the castle by order of the council, and a force of yeomen of the guard were dispatched to serve the king. (fn. 220) Sir Philip Hoby was sent to Windsor to ask for an audience, which the king granted him and 'most gentlie heard all he had to say.' After hearing Hoby's report the council wrote strongly remonstrating on the state of affairs at the castle: 'It appearith very straunge unto us and a grete wonder to all true subjects that you will either assent or suffer his Majesties most royall persone to remaine in the garde of the Duke of Somersett's men, sequestred from his olde sworne servants. It seemith straunge that in his Majesties owne Howse strangers should be armed with his Majestie's owne armour, and be nearest abowte his Highnes persone.' (fn. 221) As a result, on 10 October 1549 the Protector was ordered from the king's presence, while guards were placed in attendance.
Little is heard of Windsor during the reign of Mary, who spent most of her time at Greenwich. (fn. 224) In April 1554 Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were brought to the castle on their way from the Tower to a disputation at Oxford. (fn. 225) In May the Princess Elizabeth, escorted by Sir Henry Bedingfield, came through Windsor on her way from the Tower to Woodstock, but instead of being given apartments in the castle was lodged in the Dean of Windsor's house, 'a place,' says Holinshed, 'more meet indeed for a priest than a princess.'
After Mary's marriage with Philip of Spain at Winchester on 25 July 1554, the king and queen visited Windsor, arriving there on 3 August. Philip was installed a knight of the Garter on Sunday 5 August, being invested with the mantle and collar of the order by the queen. (fn. 226)
The date of Elizabeth's first visit to Windsor after her accession is uncertain. Among the guests received at the castle from his brother, the King of Sweden, who was a suitor for the queen's hand. The queen was at Windsor for a short time in August 1560. (fn. 227)
In September 1563, when the queen was at Windsor, (fn. 228) there was an outbreak of plague in the capital, and the queen was advised to stay at the castle until the beginning of November. Elizabeth remained at Windsor for the rest of the winter, spending much of her time in study under Roger Ascham, who eulogized her diligence. 'I believe,' he said, 'that beside her perfect readiness in Latin, Italian, French and Spanish, she readeth here now at Windsore more Greek every day than some Prebendarie of this church doth read Latin in a whole weeke.' (fn. 229) The Earl of Leicester could give another account of the queen's occupations at Windsor—hunting in the forest 'having great sport' and killing a 'great and fatt Stagge' with her own hand, which Dudley sent by the queen's order to the Archbishop of Canterbury, parboiled for its better preservation, 'because the wether was woght and the Dere somewhat chafed.' (fn. 230)
The treaty with France was solemnly published in Windsor on 22 April 1564, 'in the Quene's Majesties presence going to the church, having with her Majesty the French Ambassador so as nothying wanted to shew contentation.' (fn. 231) On the following day Charles IX of France was chosen as a member of the order of the Garter, being installed by proxy in January 1565–6. (fn. 232)
The queen was often at Windsor in the autumn, but the celebrations of the feast of St. George in the spring were discontinued after 1567, (fn. 233) when by a change in the statutes of the order of the Garter it was ordained that the feast might for the future be celebrated wherever the sovereign might happen to be. (fn. 234) The Earl of Northumberland was degraded from the order of the Garter after his rebellion in 1569, (fn. 235) the knight's achievements being taken down from above his stall in the chapel and thrown out into the castle ditch. (fn. 236) Elizabeth spent the autumn of 1570 at Windsor. According to Strype her 'learned studies' continued, and she spent hours every day in private reading Greek and studying divinity and philosophy. (fn. 237) Plays were several times presented before the queen by the children of Windsor. (fn. 238) In the autumn of 1572 the queen was at Windsor, suffering from an illness which seemed to be a form of small-pox, (fn. 239) and she was at the castle in the summer or autumn of the following years. (fn. 240) During an outbreak of plague in London in the autumn of 1577 the queen spent a long time at Windsor, (fn. 241) being persuaded to remain there by her advisers, who reported that 'it much misliketh the queen not to go somewhere to have change of air.' (fn. 242) She amused herself by interviews with Dr. Dee, an astrologer who lived at Mortlake and several times rode over to Windsor by the queen's command. (fn. 243) Ambassadors from the emperor and from Don John of Austria were at the castle at the beginning of this visit. (fn. 244)
Plague broke out in Windsor in September 1582, but the queen came there in the December following. (fn. 245) During the trial of Mary Queen of Scots in 1586 Elizabeth was at Windsor, where she was in residence from August to November. (fn. 246) A visit from the Viscount of Turenne was the chief incident of the year 1590; 'he had access,' we are told, 'to the queen, in her gallery—divers Lords and Ladies being by.' (fn. 247) Elizabeth was at the castle in September and October of this year. (fn. 248) In 1592 the queen celebrated her coronation day by a 'great triumph' at Windsor with a 'course of the Field and Tourney.' (fn. 249)
The queen spent the following summer and autumn at Windsor, when owing to the prevalence of plague in London no one from the capital was allowed to come to Windsor, and remained until after Christmas, though she nearly left the castle in a panic in November owing to a page dying of plague in the keep. (fn. 250) Elizabeth had been occupying herself by translating the De Consolatione of Boethius, which she began on 10 October and finished on 8 November, working an hour and a half a day and doing the whole in twenty six hours. (fn. 251)
Elizabeth's careful lord treasurer, anxious to diminish 'the access of a great multitude' to Windsor, drew up a memorandum of the officers of the household, the lords and ladies and their attendants who had lodgings in the castle, and the number of persons lodged in the town who were not attending in the household. (fn. 252)
In May 1601 Robert Lord Burghley and the Earl of Derby were installed by the queen as knights of the Garter. (fn. 253) Elizabeth's last visit to Windsor seems to have been in the autumn of the following year, (fn. 254) when she made a progress to Windsor and Reading.
During the rebellion of 1569 ordnance, ammunition and other warlike provisions were sent to the castle. (fn. 255) The armoury was viewed and set in order in 1584 and 1587, (fn. 256) and in the Armada year armour and ammunition were sent from Windsor to the Tower. (fn. 257) Among the prisoners were Papist recusants found in possession of Popish books and 'lewd trash.' (fn. 258)
The account of a visit by one Paul Hentzer to Windsor in 1598, which was translated by Walpole, gives interesting particulars of the interior of the castle, and contains descriptions of the two bathrooms ceiled and wainscoted with looking-glass, of the room in which Henry VI was born, of a room containing the beds of Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Edward VI, 'all of them eleven feet square and covered with quilts shining with gold and silver.' In addition he mentions some French tapestry, a cushion 'curiously wrought by Queen Elizabeth,' and 'the horn of a unicorn, of above eight spans and a half in length, valued at about £10,000,' which was among the treasures of the castle. (fn. 259)
King James with his liking for 'chasinge away idlenes by violent exercise and early rysinge' resided constantly at the castle, (fn. 260) where he hunted several days a week in the park, which was well stocked with both deer and wild boars. (fn. 261) His first visit seems to have taken place in June 1603, a few months after his accession, his last in September 1624, six months before his death. (fn. 262)
The first court at Windsor in July 1603 was marked by some 'squaring between our English and Scottish lords, for lodging and other petty quarrels,' and by a dispute between Lord Southampton and Lord Grey in the queen's presence, which went so far that the lords were sent to their lodgings under guard. (fn. 263) Prince Henry was admitted to the order of the Garter at this time, winning golden opinions for his 'quicke wittie answers and princely carriage.' The court ladies appearing on this occasion are described as 'being all of them most sumptuous in apparel and exceeding rich and glorious in jewels like the wearers,' (fn. 264) but in general there seems to have been some diminution in the splendour and extravagance of the Garter feasts during this reign. In 1619 the king issued an order forbidding any knight of the Garter from having more than fifty attendants, whereas in the preceding reign each knight had a multitude of attendants, all of them in their chains of gold. 'I do believe,' says one observer, 'that I have seen at some times very near ten thousand chains of gold stirring.' (fn. 265)
Many foreign ambassadors were received by James at Windsor, and masques and plays were given for their entertainment. There is a notice of the performance of Ben Jonson's masque The Metamorphosed Gipsies in July 1621. (fn. 266) In 1606 the queen's brother, Christian IV of Denmark, visited the king at Windsor, being installed a knight of the Garter. During a visit in September 1618, when the Archbishop of Spalato was his guest, a Frenchman forced his way into the king's presence, and was arrested as a suspicious character. (fn. 267) The French Ambassador was received in audience at Windsor in September 1619, and hunted with the king in the park, starting at seven o'clock in the morning. (fn. 268) In August 1622, when the Spanish Ambassador was being entertained at the castle, we are told that Prince Charles and the Duke of Buckingham swam every evening in the Thames near Eton, but 'so attended with choice company and a boat or two that there could be no danger.' (fn. 269) In the following year the king was at Windsor suffering from gout, but going hunting nevertheless. He used a strange remedy for his gouty feet; it was his habit 'to bathe them in every buck's and stag's belly in the place where he kills them.' (fn. 270) In July 1624 the French Ambassador was entertained at the castle, and the last reference to the king at Windsor is characteristic. He wrote making an appointment to meet the Duke of Buckingham to hunt in Windsor Park with 'Kate and Sue'—the Duchess of Buckingham and the Countess of Denbigh—'with thaire bowes.' (fn. 271) James died on 5 March following.
Charles I seems to have been in residence at Windsor every year in the late summer and autumn. (fn. 272) During the king's first visit after his accession the plague broke out in several houses in the town, and the king left for Hampton Court. In December he was back at the castle for the installation of certain new knights of the Garter. (fn. 273)
In 1625 £400 was set aside for the armoury of the castle. This had been an annual allowance since 1608. (fn. 274) In 1631 a commission was appointed to examine into the frauds and abuses of the castle officers. It was reported that the revenues of the castle were insufficient owing to 'the contention of officers therein who load themselves with employments and consume the revenues in delays.' A receiver was appointed for three years to put things right. (fn. 275)
In 1638 Prince Charles was installed as a knight of the Garter. (fn. 276)
The fountain set up by Mary was taken down in 1635, (fn. 277) and it was designed that a new one should be put up bearing 'statues of Hercules worrying of Antaeus as if by squeezing of him ye water comes out of his mouth,' but the design was not carried out. (fn. 278) A clock was put up in the tower in 1636, the bell of which bore the inscription 'God save our King Charles, God save my Lord the King.' (fn. 279)
With the beginning of the Civil War period Windsor Castle became again, perhaps for the last time in its history, of great importance as a stronghold. On 12 January 1641–2, after the failure of his attempt to seize the five members, King Charles withdrew first to Hampton Court and then to Windsor, where he might be 'more secure from any popular attempt' than he could be in the rebellious capital. (fn. 280) On 14 January the Commons heard with disquietude that the king was concentrating troops at Windsor. Parliament remonstrated against this, 'it causeth much wonder at this time, a Parliament sitting, that such forces should be levied and all at Peace,' and the Commons ordered that measures should be taken for the defence of the City. Some sudden movement on the king's side was evidently feared, but the king remained quietly at Windsor, receiving messages and deputations from Parliament until the middle of February, when both the king and queen left the castle, Charles proceeding to Hampton Court and thence to York and Henrietta Maria to Holland. (fn. 281)
The position of Windsor, 'a place of greatest strength in this part of the kingdom, by reason of the heighth and strength, the country lying under it so that the castle can command it round about,' made the possession of it a matter of the first importance, and on 28 October 1642 it was occupied without resistance by Parliamentary troops under Colonel Venn, who was later one of the regicides. (fn. 282) The pillage of St. George's chapel followed. (fn. 283)
An unsuccessful attack was made on the castle by Prince Rupert on 14 November; his troops, finding they made no impression on 'stone walls, rocks and inaccessible places,' desired to go where they might do the cause better service. (fn. 284) In November proposals were made for a settlement, and the king asked that the troops should be withdrawn from the castle of Windsor, where he proposed to take up his residence and negotiate with Parliament, (fn. 285) but Parliament was unwilling to relinquish control of 'so considerable a place … whilst there was only hope of a peace.' (fn. 286) Windsor was the head quarters of the Parliamentary forces under the Earl of Essex in the following winter, the rest of Berkshire being in the king's hands. (fn. 287) The troops destroyed 500 head of deer in the park, burnt the park palings and did much wanton damage. (fn. 288) Fifty-five Royalist prisoners were brought to Windsor in January 1642–3, when it was reported that the castle was in need of repair, not being 'so well fitted for the safe keeping of them as is requisite, the quality of the persons considered.' (fn. 289) The unhappy prisoners were without beds until they were given permission to provide them at their own expense. (fn. 290) When hostilities were resumed (fn. 291) in April 1643, Essex with an army of 16,000 foot and more than 3,000 horse and an excellent siege train (fn. 292) supplied from the Tower and other Parliamentary arsenals, marched from Windsor to the siege of Reading.
In June 1643 the Windsor Castle plate was sent north for the pay of the Parliamentary army. (fn. 293)
There are many notices of military stores and arms being sent to the castle, (fn. 294) but owing to the chronic money difficulty the House of Commons passed a resolution in April 1644 that the garrison should be disbanded with a month's pay, marching out with two drakes, but leaving the rest of the artillery in the castle. (fn. 295) The City of London petitioned against this, and the garrison remained, but things grew so bad that Venn began organizing searches for the property of delinquents in Berkshire which might be confiscated. (fn. 296) In April, June and July 1644 the Windsor garrison did some service in the field. (fn. 297) In October the House resolved that the garrison should be reduced to 200 soldiers, in addition to officers, the cost of which was to be £88 9s. 8d. weekly. (fn. 298) The next difficulty was a mutiny of the garrison which took place in November. (fn. 299) The governor was threatened with violence, and the House resolved that speedy measures were to be taken for the safety of the castle, 'the House being very sensible of the present and imminent danger that place lies in.' (fn. 300) About the same time the governor, Venn, was employed convoying ammunition in rowing boats up the river to Reading. (fn. 301) In January 1644–5 a troop of horse was quartered near the castle for the service of the garrison, (fn. 302) and the governor was ordered to augment the garrison by taking in soldiers, 'not raw countrymen.' It was provided in March that £150 a week out of the Excise should be assigned for the pay of the Windsor garrison. (fn. 303)
In the spring of this year royal Windsor became the scene of the making of the New Model Army, which was to bring defeat to the king. Fairfax superintended the training of the troops in the Great Park (fn. 304) where he was visited by Oliver Cromwell, and in April twenty-one regiments of disciplined troops, displaying the royal colours, left Windsor for the west. (fn. 305) The force that remained behind was augmented, and the town of Windsor was strongly garrisoned, (fn. 306) a company of Middlesex foot being sent there in November for its better security. (fn. 307)
In June 1645 Venn was replaced as governor of the castle by Colonel Whitchcott, and in November and December a rumour that an attack by the king was imminent led to the reinforcement of the garrison. (fn. 308) The pay of the garrison being as usual in arrears, Parliament in March of the following year ordered the brass statue of St. George on horseback, set up in the reign of Henry VIII, to be sold 'to the best advantage of the State,' together with other brass images, which, if they might be used in any 'superstitious manner,' were to be defaced before being sold. The proceeds of this spoliation were handed over to the governor for the garrison. At the same time a collar of SS., a George and a garter found in the castle were confiscated and a search was made for a sum of £2,500 which was said to be 'hidden underground in some private place in or about Windsor Castle.' (fn. 309)
The fortifications undertaken at Windsor Castle were stopped in February 1646–7, and the House divided on the question of reducing the garrison, which, however, was maintained at its old level. (fn. 310)
On 1 July 1647 King Charles was brought as a prisoner to the castle, but he only remained there two days, moving to Lord Craven's house at Caversham on 3 July. (fn. 311)
In the winter of 1647 Windsor was the head quarters of the Parliamentary army, and the castle was the scene of some important meetings between Cromwell and Ireton and other 'inspired persons.' (fn. 312) The general council of the army assembled in the town hall of Windsor on 25 November. There was an important meeting on 5 December, when attempts were made to put an end to the dissensions among the Parliamentary leaders. (fn. 313) The order of Parliament for the disbanding of the army was discussed, and a conference between Cromwell and other officers and Parliamentary commissioners followed on 9 December. A little later the army council met in the castle, (fn. 314) and there were many 'exhortations to unity and affinity,' followed next day by a solemn fast. There was a 'sweet harmony among the officers, and Cromwell, Ireton and others prayed very fervently and pathetically.' (fn. 315) At a three days' prayer meeting held later in the castle the army council decided that those 'cursed carnal conferences' with the king were at the root of their difficulties, and that it was their duty 'to call that man of blood, Charles Stuart, to an account for the blood he had shed and the mischief he had done against the Lord's cause.' (fn. 316)
In May 1647 Fairfax and a large army left Windsor for the north. (fn. 317) It was ordered that £1,500 from the Berkshire sequestrations should be paid to the governor, but its execution was delayed for two years. (fn. 318) Whitchcott complained in July 1648 that the castle was 'full of want and full of danger'; he feared more from the discontented soldiers within than from the enemy outside, and pressed again for a grant of money. (fn. 319) To increase the governor's difficulties the prisoners captured by Cromwell in Scotland were sent south to join the Royalist prisoners already in the castle, (fn. 320) and later in the same year 'four barges full of Scotch prisoners' were sent down the river from Windsor to Gravesend to be transported to America, where they were sold as slaves. (fn. 321)
On 23 December King Charles was brought from Hurst Castle to Windsor, guarded by Colonel Harrison and ten troops of horse. (fn. 322) It was reported that the king was 'indifferent cheerful,' and on his arrival many of his subjects went out to see him pass at the bottom of Sheet Street, and 'upon his Majesty's passing by, a great echo arose from the voyce of the people crying God bless your Majesty and send you long to reign.' (fn. 323)
The House of Commons ordered that the governor should be allowed £15 a day for the expenses of the king and his attendants, with another £5 for fire and candles for the guard. The 'malignants' among his attendants were to be dismissed by the governor. (fn. 324) No one was allowed to see the king without permission from Cromwell or the Speaker of the House of Commons, and it was ordered that his attendants should no longer kneel. 'Since the king came to Windsor,' it was reported, 'he shews little alteration of courage or gesture.' (fn. 325) On Friday, 19 January, the king was removed from Windsor to St. James's Palace. (fn. 326)
On the night of the king's execution the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Loughborough escaped from the castle; but Hamilton was captured in Southwark, and was executed on 9 March. Parliament ordered that the king's body should be buried at Windsor 'in a decent manner, provided that the whole expense should not exceed £500,' (fn. 327) and on 7 February the body was brought to Windsor, where it lay that night in the king's bedchamber. On the following day it was taken into St. George's Hall. The Marquess of Hertford, the Earls of Southampton and Lindsey, and Juxon, Bishop of London, with great difficulty chose a place for the interment in St. George's chapel, as the spoliation of the church and destruction of its furniture had made 'such a dismal mutation over the whole that they knew not where they were.' (fn. 328) At last a vault was found in the middle of the quire where Henry VIII and Jane Seymour had been buried. On 9 February the coffin was brought across from the great hall to the chapel, the black velvet pall being whitened by thickly falling snow. The king's body was laid to rest 'in silence and sorrow,' the governor having refused to allow the bishop to use the service from the Book of Common Prayer. (fn. 329) The coffin was inscribed 'King Charles, 1648.' (fn. 330)
A conspiracy by the Levellers, who hoped to surprise the castle, was discovered in September 1649, (fn. 331) and a little later the pipes conveying water to the castle were maliciously cut, the offenders being sent to Reading Gaol. (fn. 332) A mile of piping was later taken up, some of the lead being used on the repair of the castle and some sent to London to bring water from Hyde Park to Whitehall. (fn. 333)
In June 1649 the House of Commons had passed a resolution that Windsor Castle should not be sold, but should be 'kept for the public use of the Commonwealth,' (fn. 334) but in November 1652 a resolution authorized the sale of various royal castle for ready money. Windsor very narrowly escaped this fate, being exempted from the Bill embodying this resolution by a majority of one vote only. (fn. 335) Two years later Windsor Castle was included among the royal palaces to be kept unsold for the Protector's use. Evelyn, who visited the castle at this time, writes of it thus: 'The castle itself is large in circumference, but the rooms melancholy, and of ancient magnificence. The keep or mount hath besides its incomparable prospect a very profound well, and the terrace towards Eaton with the park, meandering Thames, and sweet meadows, yield one of the most delightful prospects.' (fn. 336) In December 1651 many of the hangings were removed from the castle; they were described as 'five pieces of hanging of Triumphs, 6 pieces of David, Nathan, Abigail, and Solomon, 7 of siege of Jerusalem, 5 of Astyages and Goddesses.' (fn. 337) Three years later the hangings that remained were sent to adorn 'the Speaker's room adjoining the Parliament House.' (fn. 338) Some years earlier a jewel worth £6,000 was found in the castle and sold by order of the Parliament. (fn. 339)
Oliver Cromwell visited Windsor in 1657, just after he had been confirmed in the title of Lord Protector. (fn. 340) After his death, in September 1658, nothing is heard of the castle for some time except the usual complaints by the governor about arrears of pay. There were rumours that Richard Cromwell meant to secure himself at Windsor, and other rumours of 'attempts by the enemy.' (fn. 341) In December 1659 Colonel Whitchcott surrendered the castle to a troop of volunteer horse, who demanded its surrender for the use of the Parliament. (fn. 342) The Commons endorsed this action, though the constable, Whitelocke, seems to have feared that the surrender of the castle might be an inopportune proof, on the eve of the Restoration, of his zeal for a 'free Commonwealth.' (fn. 343)
On 12 May 1660 the mayor and aldermen, who had proclaimed King Charles II at the market-house at Windsor Bridge, and then at the gates of the castle, were 'desired by the officers that were in ye castle to come into the castle and there to proclame King Charles the Second in the castle, wch was also ther allso proclaimed with great Joye.' (fn. 344)
Among the Royalist prisoners in the castle during the Commonwealth were the Duke of Buckingham, the Earls of Lauderdale, Crawford, Lindsey, Kelly and Rothes, Lord Sinclair, and many officers of the king. But in 1651 the rumour of 'a design among the prisoners' caused the removal of many of them to distant castles, Warwick, Ludlow, Arundel, and elsewhere. (fn. 345) There were many less distinguished prisoners, such as a man arrested by the governor for drinking the health of Charles Stuart by the name of Charles II, and a number of Scotch prisoners, 'suspected priests,' men who distributed seditious papers, and others. (fn. 346)
The restoration of Windsor Castle to its former state and dignity as a royal palace followed immediately on the king's return. (fn. 347) It involved the expulsion from the castle of a number of poor women and children, who in their destitute state were commended to the care of the county justices. (fn. 348) Furniture and hangings were recovered to some extent, and the 'great unicorn's horn' was brought back in May 1660. (fn. 349) The king's first visit took place in April 1661, when a chapter of the Garter was held once more after many years, and twelve new knights companion—many of them elected during the king's exile—were installed. (fn. 350) Windsor became the king's chief residence during the summer months, (fn. 351) and it was with the view of providing for the constant entertainment of the Merry Monarch's gay court that the great additions to the fabric of the castle were made in this reign.
Besides the feasts of St. George, the court functions and banquets, the king found at Windsor opportunities for hunting, fishing near Datchet, hawking along the river banks and horse-racing on the Flats, the Datchet Ferry plate being run annually on 24 August. (fn. 352) A new court was made for tennis, one of Charles's favourite games (fn. 353); cock-fighting was also a fashionable amusement. (fn. 354) The king constantly took very long walks in the park, where he began many improvements. A house at Windsor, known from her son's title as Burford House, was allotted to Nell Gwyn. (fn. 355) Among the guests entertained were William of Orange, who visited the castle in 1670 and again in 1681, (fn. 356) and the Duchess of Orleans, whose visit in 1670 was connected with the negotiation of the secret Treaty of Dover. (fn. 357) When at Windsor in the summer of 1679 the king fell ill, a cold being followed by ague. (fn. 358) The Duke of York, who had been sent abroad on account of the Parliamentary agitation for his exclusion, alarmed by the unfavourable news of the king's state, and unwilling to be out of England if the king were dying, returned immediately, and on receiving a letter from King Charles appeared at the castle. (fn. 359) In a few days, however, Charles recovered. On 15 September the Lord Mayor of London with the aldermen arrived to congratulate the king, 'which expression of their duty and affection his Majesty was very well pleased with,' and two days later the king left for Whitehall. (fn. 360)
During the latter part of this visit a supposed plot to assassinate the king at Windsor by three Irishmen and one Englishman was mentioned in a proclamation. It is probable that this was one of the alleged ramifications of the spurious Popish plot which was distracting England at this period. (fn. 361)
In the following year the king had another attack of ague when at Windsor, and in May 1682 he was again ill there. (fn. 362) After a later visit in this year King Charles set out from the castle for London at two o'clock in the morning. (fn. 363)
An elaborate representation of the siege of Maestricht in the meadows below the Long Terrace amused the court one night in August 1674. The Dukes of York and Monmouth took part in the mimic siege; 'bastions, bulwarks, ramparts, palisadoes, graffs, hornworks, counterscarps' were constructed; there was a moat 12 yards wide, great guns were fired and mines sprung to the delight of a thousand spectators. (fn. 364)
During the king's visits a daily post between Windsor and London was instituted, beginning about 1674. (fn. 365)
The experiments with Sir Samuel Morland's water engine for supplying the castle with water in 1681 and 1682 are related at length in the London Gazette. The whole court assembled to watch the water being forced up to a height of 66 ft. above the castle. The engine proved quite satisfactory. It filled the great eistern of the castle, which was in the middle of the upper quadrangle below the king's statue, and also the 'New Pond,' 500 yards away in the park. Morland for this achievement was decorated by the king with a gold medal. (fn. 366)
The London Gazette of May 1682 gives an amusing account of the visit of the ambassador of the 'King of Bantam' to King Charles at Windsor. (fn. 367) This was the king's last stay at the castle.
Lord Mordaunt, the constable, was deprived of his office in 1668 under disgraceful circumstances. In addition to interfering with the Parliamentary elections in the borough he behaved oppressively towards a Mr. Tayleur, (fn. 368) a faithful Royalist, who was paymaster and surveyor of the castle. (fn. 369) He deprived Tayleur of office, illegally imprisoned him, turned him out of his lodgings in the castle, made dishonourable proposals to his daughter, and persecuted the whole family. (fn. 370) Mordaunt's impeachment led to a dangerous dispute between the two Houses. (fn. 371) During an adjournment the king deprived Lord Mordaunt of his office, and the matter was allowed to drop. Mordaunt received a royal pardon in July, and Tayleur was restored to the office of surveyor. (fn. 372) Mordaunt's successor was Prince Rupert, who by a separate instrument to his creation as constable was appointed governor or lieutenant of the castle. From this date onward these two offices, formerly distinct, have been conferred on the same individual. (fn. 373)
Prince Rupert was a very active constable and gave great attention to the arms and warlike stores. (fn. 374) He adorned the hall of his lodgings in the Round Tower 'with furniture of arms … so disposing the pikes, muskets, pistols, bandeliers, holsters, drums, back, breast and head pieces … as to represent festoons, and that without any confusion, trophy like.' (fn. 375) The three companies of Guards that formed the garrison of the castle formerly had their quarters in the town, but by Prince Rupert's order, given in 1670, one company was quartered in the trench of the castle keep. (fn. 376) About the same time the constable ordered all leases of land in the castle ditch to be surrendered and regranted, to be held during the king's pleasure only, not for terms of years or for life. (fn. 377)
It was reported in 1669 that 1,270½ oz. of plate had been 'lost or wasted' since the Restoration, but the loss was not regarded as unusually heavy owing to the plate having been used 'in hazardous services,' such as the coronation and the feasts of St George, in which pilfering seems to have been looked for. (fn. 378)
Under the provisions of the 'Clarendon Code' the gaol of the castle was filled with Protestant Dissenters, who held 'unlawful conventicles.' (fn. 379) Henry Martin, the regicide, was also committed together with various men who were accused of sedition, 'high misdemeanours,' or who were thrown into prison without knowing the charge against them. (fn. 380)
Part of the castle ditch on the east side was filled up in 1676, when the terrace was enlarged. (fn. 381)
The statue of Charles II in Roman dress, which now stands on the west side of the quadrangle of the castle, was set up in the centre of the court in 1680 at the cost of Tobias Rustat, the statue being of copper on a pedestal of white marble carved by Grinling Gibbons. (fn. 382)
James II paid his first visit to Windsor in July 1685, staying there from 4 August to 9 September (fn. 383) and from 18 September to 6 October. (fn. 384) In the following year the king came to Windsor on 13 May to see his daughter the Princess Anne, who had given birth to a daughter in the castle the day before. He spent most of August and September at Windsor, (fn. 385) and while he was in residence the Dean and Chapter of St. George's were discharged from attendance, the services being performed by Roman Catholic priests. Vestments and other ornaments were provided for the chapel from the Secret Service payments. (fn. 386) An organ was brought from Winchester, and the ceiling of the tomb-house, where the services were held, was decorated by Verrio.
In July 1687 the king, who had been at Windsor reviewing troops in June, (fn. 387) went a step further, and gave public audience at the castle to the Papal nuncio, who came in great state with an imposing retinue in a procession of thirty-six coaches, each drawn by six horses, accompanied by the lord chancellor and other great officers of state. (fn. 388) The town of Windsor was thronged with sightseers, as no Papal nuncio had been given a state reception since the reign of Queen Mary. James was at Windsor during part of August and September in this year. In July and August of the following year (1688) the king and queen were in residence and the infant Prince of Wales was in August lodged with the Princess Anne, who was living in the house which had once been Nell Gwyn's. (fn. 389)
At a council meeting held at Windsor on 24 August 1688, in spite of the strong opposition of Jeffreys and Father Petre, the king decided on calling a Parliament. (fn. 390) He left Windsor for Whitehall on 18 September, but on 18 November he was back at the castle on his way to join his army at Salisbury, where troops were being concentrated to resist William of Orange, who had landed in Torbay on 5 November. (fn. 391) The Prince of Wales was brought to the castle the same day (17 November) on his way to Portsmouth. The next morning the king left for Salisbury, and never saw Windsor again.
On 14 December William of Orange with Bentinck and his Dutch troops reached Windsor on his eastward march to the capital. (fn. 392) He stayed there four days, being lodged 'below stairs in those rooms called Will Chiffinch's and dining above in the king's dining room.' (fn. 393) It was a very critical moment. The king sent Feversham to Windsor to invite William of Orange to Whitehall. The prince answered by requesting the king to remain at Rochester. Then came the king's attempt at flight, the prevention of which greatly embarrassed William. On Monday, 17 December, on the news of the king's return to Whitehall, William held a council of all the peers who were present at Windsor, including Halifax and others, and decided to advance to Whitehall and order King James to retire. (fn. 394) On Tuesday, the 18th, William of Orange left Windsor for London. (fn. 395)
William III spent very little time at Windsor Castle, (fn. 396) but during his absence the affairs of the castle were managed by the very vigorous and competent constable, Henry Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 397) Norfolk had to make strong protests against the alienation by the king of the rents assigned by an Act of Parliament of 32 Henry VIII to the maintenance of the castle and forest. In spite of this King William in 1696 bestowed large portions of these rents on the Earl of Portland and Lord Somers. (fn. 398) The matter was brought up in Parliament, but no proceedings seem to have followed.
The constable was also vigilant in preventing encroachments in the castle ditch, which formed the boundary between the lands belonging to the castle and the property of the town of Windsor and of Eton College. In 1692 Sir Christopher Wren was directed to make a survey of the castle ditch to prevent these encroachments for the future. At the same time the old system of leasing out portions of the ditch was continued. In 1699, for instance, one Philip Lovegrove was licensed to plant a portion of the upper part of the castle ditch as a garden, to be held by him as tenant at the will of the constable. Licences were even given for the erection of buildings within the precincts of the castle itself. (fn. 399) Thus one Elizabeth Edwards, a sempstress, was given leave to build a shed (20 ft. by 3 ft.), apparently to be used as a shop, inside the gate of the lower ward of the castle. (fn. 400)
After her reconciliation with King William in 1695, the Princess Anne and her husband usually spent the summer at Windsor. The Duke of Gloucester, their only surviving child, was installed a knight of the Garter in 1696, though then only six years old. He died at Windsor on 30 July 1700. (fn. 401)
Queen Anne spent a great part of every year at Windsor Castle, (fn. 402) sometimes retiring for a few weeks at a time to the house and gardens in the Little Park which she had occupied before her accession. (fn. 403) She was specially fond of hunting, and at other times rode daily in the park. There are well-known stories of the queen in her later years, following the stag-hunt in Windsor Park in an open chaise or 'calesh—she drives herself and drives furiously like Jehu.' (fn. 404)
The chapters of the order of the Garter were held with great splendour, and the installation of the Dukes of Hanover, Devonshire and Argyll in 1710 was described as 'the finest show that can be seen in Europe.' (fn. 405) The only state entertainments recorded in Anne's reign occurred in December 1703 on the visit of the Archduke Charles, who had been declared King of Spain with the title of Charles III. (fn. 406)
The victories of Marlborough are commemorated at Windsor by the terms of the grant of the manor of Blenheim to the duke in 1705. It was to be 'holden as of the castle of Windsor in common socage by fealty,' the duke and his descendants rendering yearly on 2 August (the anniversary of the battle of Blenheim) a standard with three fleurs de lis. (fn. 407)
The Duke of Marlborough was followed in 1708 as ranger of Windsor Park by the duchess. She at first refused to pay taxes for the two parks, and was only prevailed on to do so with great importunity. (fn. 408) During the height of Mrs. Masham's influence in the summer of 1709 the queen was at Windsor, and the Duchess of Marlborough reported that she stayed there 'in the hot small house which made Prince George pant for breath,' because Mrs. Masham could privately introduce visitors from the garden. There was an open rupture between the queen and the duchess in August, and in the following April the latter resigned her offices. (fn. 409)
On Christmas Day, 1713, the queen was at Windsor seriously ill. An attack of ague at Windsor followed a little later, and she died on 1 August in the following year. (fn. 410)
The water supply of the castle had again been taken in hand. At the end of the reign of William III the old well in the keep of the castle had been repaired, and Morland's elaborate 'engine' must have still been in existence. A new engine was, however, set up near the river to supply the general needs of the castle, while for the queen's private use water was brought in pails to the castle from a well she had had made near the village of Chalvey. (fn. 411) This rather primitive arrangement was continued until the reign of George III. (fn. 412)
George I was very seldom at Windsor. His neglect of the place is mentioned by Lady Elizabeth Lechmere, who wrote in 1721 expressing her astonishment that 'the king should not choose to be there sometimes; it has so much more the air of a palace than his house here, and the park's so beautiful there, and Hide Park here, at his garden gate, so shamefully kept.' (fn. 413)
George II also cared little for Windsor, and, though Walpole wrote in 1730 that 'his Majesty designed to make Windsor the place of his chief residence in the summer season,' (fn. 414) the notices of his visits there are few. (fn. 415) The Windsor Medley contains 'choice pieces of prose and verse' written during the stay of the court at Windsor in 1730. No new works were undertaken at the castle, which was only just kept in repair. Owing to the amalgamation of the office of works for the castle with the Board of Works in general, which was made under royal warrant in 1715, even the most necessary outlay was only authorized with great difficulty. (fn. 416)
George III was constantly at Windsor, (fn. 417) where he took a very special interest in the great school at Eton, which still celebrates his birthday. He lived in great retirement, preferring the Queen's Lodge (which he built in 1778 opposite the South Terrace) to the castle. Madame D'Arblay's account of the court at Windsor during the years 1785 to 1789, of its dullness and tiresome ceremonial, is well known. She gives a pleasant picture of the public promenades of the royal family on the terrace, 'the good king, in his light grey farmer-like morning Windsor uniform, walking arm in arm with the queen and followed by the princesses and the young princes, making a gay and pleasing procession of one of the finest families in the world.' (fn. 418) The king was extremely popular at Windsor. His friendly and gracious manners endeared him to the people, and there are many stories of the king and queen doing their shopping in person in the borough, and of the king visiting an old cottage woman and discovering how the apple got inside the dumpling. (fn. 419)
The king so much preferred Windsor to London that, even when he had to hold a levee at St. James's, he would ride all the way from Windsor to London, and when the ceremony was over set out to drive back to Windsor at 6 o'clock in the evening. (fn. 420) He seems to have had a rooted dislike for his capital and had been heard to say that 'he would rather live in Calcutta than in London, though he hated warm weather.' (fn. 421) The king was at Windsor in October, 1788, when his mental disorder first declared itself, (fn. 422) and on 29 November his physicians prevailed on him to leave Windsor for the greater privacy of Kew. (fn. 423) 'Almost all Windsor,' we are told, 'was collected … to witness the mournful spectacle of his departure, which left them in the deepest despondence, with scarce a ray of hope ever to see him again.'
The Prince of Wales had been summoned from Brighton to Windsor as soon as the king's illness declared itself, but his arrival added to the king's delirium. The prince remained at the castle after the king's removal, took over the direction of affairs, and had all the king's jewels and papers sealed up. (fn. 424) The king's recovery, which was announced on 10 March 1789, was followed by his immediate return to Windsor, where there were great rejoicings, bell ringing and fireworks. During subsequent illnesses George III was not at Windsor, but at Kew or Weymouth.
Windsor in 1805 was the scene of a well-known episode. On hearing of the archbishop's death, the king instantly walked from the castle to the deanery, called out the dean, Manners Sutton, and congratulated him as archbishop, in order to forestall Pitt in making a nomination he disliked. (fn. 425)
On 25 October the king's jubilee was kept with great public rejoicing. During the months' that followed the king, who had become quite blind, lived quietly at Windsor, riding in the park, walking on the terrace of the castle and attending a daily service in the chapel. Another attack followed, but by May 1811 he had recovered and was able to ride in the park at Windsor with a groom leading his horse. In the last years of the king's life his disorder returned, and he died on 29 January 1820, being buried in St. George's Chapel on 16 February.
In 1784 a military hospital was built in the park east of the Long Walk. This was later converted into cottages, which were pulled down about 1850. (fn. 426)
The removal of the prison, which was situated near the entrance to the Lower Ward, was effected some time between 1790 and 1805, when the prison, court room, &c., were converted to the use of the garrison, a guard room, magazine and apartments for officers of the guard being constructed. (fn. 427) The other works of alteration, repair and reconstruction under this sovereign and his successor are treated of below. (fn. 428)
In 1826 the Princess Victoria, then aged seven, visited George IV at Windsor, who during the alterations to the castle was living in the Royal Lodge in the park, and the princess and her mother were given rooms in Cumberland Lodge.
During the ministerial crisis over the Catholic Relief Bill (1829), to which the king was bitterly hostile, Wellington paid repeated visits to Windsor and had interviews with the king of over five hours in length. The king died at Windsor on 25 June in the following year.
Of William IV at Windsor there is little to relate except the ill-natured stories told in the Greville Memoirs. One of the best authenticated of these describes a speech made by the king at a birthday dinner in the castle, 21 August 1836, when, in the presence of a hundred people, he made a violent attack on the Duchess of Kent, who was there with the Princess Victoria, with the result that the princess burst into tears. (fn. 429) He died on 20 June 1837, and was buried at Windsor on 8 July.
On 22 August 1837 Queen Victoria came into residence at Windsor for the first time since her accession, holding her first military review in the park on 28 September. The first royal guest entertained at Windsor was King Leopold of Belgium, who was at the castle in September 1839. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha came to Windsor in the following autumn, and on 18 October a marriage between him and the queen was arranged, though not announced till November. On 10 February 1840, after their marriage in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace, the queen and her husband drove down to Windsor, where they remained for four days.
During the first twenty years of the reign the queen, Prince Consort and court spent many months of the year at Windsor, the queen having taken a dislike to London and to 'the extreme weight and thickness of the atmosphere' in the capital. (fn. 430) In 1840 the Prince Consort established a model farm for the purpose of breeding stock and studying experimental agriculture. The Prince of Wales was christened in St. George's Chapel with great ceremony on 10 January 1842. In June of the same year the queen travelled from Windsor to Paddington by train—her first journey by rail.
In 1843 the Keppel estate was bought by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and added to the royal demesne. (fn. 431)
Among the royal guests entertained at this period were the Tzar Nicholas I, during whose visit in June 1844 there was a great review in the park, and Louis Philippe of France, who in October 1845 was invested with the order of the Garter in full chapter, with a stately ceremonial revived after the lapse of many years. Until 1848 the State entertainments at Windsor took the form of banquets, balls and concerts, but in that year a performance of The Merchant of Venice was given in the Rubens room under the direction of Charles Kean. From that date until the death of the Prince Consort plays were given in the castle nearly every Christmas. (fn. 432)
The acquisition of Osborne in 1844 and of Balmoral in 1852 left the queen less time to spend at Windsor.
In 1855 the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie were the queen's guests at Windsor, where they were most brilliantly entertained, the emperor being installed a knight of the Garter. The Christmas season of 1860–1 was the last occasion of gaiety at the castle for many years. On 14 December in the following year the Prince Consort died suddenly at Windsor. For the rest of her life the queen wore mourning, and for many years lived in complete seclusion. After the marriage of the Prince of Wales, which took place in St. George's Chapel on 10 March 1863, there was some slight mitigation of this 'gloomy seclusion,' which was the subject of much unfavourable comment at the time, (fn. 433) but the queen herself took no part in the State balls and concerts, her place being taken by the Prince and Princess of Wales. During the later years of the reign the castle was the scene of several royal marriages, of many reviews and some State entertainments. Among the royal guests who visited the castle in these later years were the Shah of Persia and Alexander II of Russia.
The death of Queen Victoria, which took place 22 January 1901, was followed by a stately funeral at Windsor, the queen being buried in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore on 4 February.
The new reign saw great changes at Windsor. The castle was entirely redecorated, and the king, on the comparatively rare occasions of his visits to Windsor, displayed his 'natural gift for brilliant hospitality.' It became the king's custom to entertain his royal guests at the castle in November. The King and Queen of Italy were there in November 1903; in the following year the King and Queen of Portugal. The castle formed a stately setting for these entertainments, the most splendid of which took place in November 1907, when the German Emperor and Empress, the King and Queen of Spain, Queen Amelie of Portugal and many other royalties were present. Command performances of successful plays were usually given on these occasions.
On 12 February 1901 Queen Alexandra was created a lady of the Garter.
One of King Edward's last visits was in June 1909, when he presented colours to the Territorial Army.
The king's funeral, on 20 May 1910, was attended by the German Emperor, the Kings of Norway, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal and Belgium.
On 10 June 1911, a few days before the coronation of His Majesty King George V, Edward Prince of Wales was installed a knight of the Garter in St. George's Chapel. The service, which was attended by many companions of the order, was an impressive display of ancient and dignified ceremonial.
The following is a list, as complete as can be compiled from sources at present available, of the castellans, keepers and constables of Windsor Castle: Walter Fitz Other, 1086 (fn. 434); William Fitz Walter, 1100; Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, 1190 (fn. 435); constableship seized by William Longchamp, Bishop of Elv, 1191 (fn. 436); William Earl of Arundel, 1191 (fn. 437); William Longchamp again seized the office, 1191 (fn. 438); Walter Archbishop of Rouen, 1191–3 (fn. 439); Hubert de Burgh, 1200 (fn. 440); John Fitz Hugh, 1201 (fn. 441); Robert de Vipont, 1204 (fn. 442); John Fitz Hugh, 1205–16 (fn. 443); Engelard de Cygony, 1216 (fn. 444); Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1223–4; William de Rughedon, Osbert Giffard, 1224 (fn. 445); Ralph Tirel, 1224 (fn. 446); William de Millers, 1228 (fn. 447); Waleran Tyes, 1231; Alan de Crepping, 1231 (fn. 448); Stephen de Segrave, 1232 (fn. 449); Henry de Passelewe, before 1234 (fn. 450); Engelard de Cygony, 1234 (fn. 451); Bernard of Savoy, 1242 (fn. 452); Peter of Geneva, 1248 (fn. 453); Maud de Lacy, widow of Peter of Geneva, 1249 (fn. 454); Aymon Thurumbert, 1257 (fn. 455); John de Sancta Elena, 1261 (fn. 456); Giles de Argentein, 1263 (fn. 457); Drew de Barentyn (fn. 458); John Fitz John, 1264 (fn. 459); John of London, 1266 (fn. 460); Ebulo de Montibus, 1266 (fn. 461); Nicholas de Yatingdon, 1269; Hugh de Dyne, 1269 (fn. 462); Geoffrey de Picheford, 1272 (fn. 463); John of London, 1298 (fn. 464); Roger le Sauvage, 1305 (fn. 465); Robert de Haustede, 1308 (fn. 466); Warin de Lisle, 1309 (fn. 467); Oliver de Bordeaux, 1319 (fn. 468); Ralph de Camoys, 1319 (fn. 469); Thomas de Huntercombe, 1326 (fn. 470); John de Lisle, 1327 (fn. 471); Thomas de Foxle, 1330 (fn. 472); Richard de Vache, 1360 (fn. 473); Thomas Cheyne, 1365 (fn. 474); Helming Legatte, 1369 (fn. 475); Sir Simon Burley, 1377 (fn. 476); Thomas Tyle, 1389 (fn. 477); Peter de Courtenay, 1390 (fn. 478); Sir Hugh de Waterton, 1405 (fn. 479); Sir John Stanley, 1409 (fn. 480); John Wintershull (deputy constable), 1413 (fn. 481); Sir Walter Hungerford (afterwards Lord Hungerford), 1423 (fn. 482); Edmund Earl of Dorset, 1439 (fn. 483); William Lord Nevill of Fauconberg and John Lord Berners, jointly, 1455 (fn. 484); Thomas Bourchier (jointly with his father John Lord Berners), 1472 (fn. 485); Sir John Elrington, 1483 (fn. 486); Thomas Windsor, 1484 (fn. 487); Sir Thomas Bourchier, 1485 (the office was confirmed to him jointly with Giles Lord Daubeney in 1493) (fn. 488); Sir Thomas Bourchier jointly with Henry Earl of Essex, 1511 (fn. 489); Henry Earl of Devon, afterwards Marquess of Exeter, 1525 (fn. 490) and 1538 (fn. 491); Robert Earl of Leicester, 1559; Charles Lord Effingham (created Earl of Nottingham in 1596), 1590 (fn. 492); George Duke of Buckingham, 1624; Henry Earl of Holland, 1628 (fn. 493); Philip Earl of Pembroke, 1648 (fn. 494); Bulstrode Whitelocke, c. 1653 (fn. 495); John Viscount Mordaunt, 1660 (fn. 496); Prince Rupert, 1668 (fn. 497); Henry Duke of Norfolk, 1689 (fn. 498); George Duke of Northumberland, 1701; Henry Duke of Kent, 1714; Richard Lord Cobham, 1717 (fn. 499); Charles Earl of Carlisle, 1723–30 (fn. 500); Charles Duke of St. Albans; George Earl of Cardigan, 1752; James Earl of Cardigan, 1791; Charles Earl of Harrington, 1811; Prince Ferdinand Victor of Hohenlohe, 1867 (fn. 501); John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 1892, styled Marquess of Lorne, succeeded as ninth Duke of Argyll, 1900, who is the present constable.
The service of ward at the castle was a condition of the tenure of much of the land in the neighbourhood of Windsor. The Abbot of Abingdon owed the service of thirty knights; Henry de Pinkeney, William de Windsor and many others also owed ward at the castle. (fn. 502) The castle-guard rents and other services were in 1255 put into the keeping of the king's serjeant. (fn. 503) When commuted, the castle-guard rents were often collected by the sheriff and handed by him to the constable. (fn. 504)
A court for the castle and honour of Windsor was held from the earliest times, and references to it are frequent from the 13th century onwards. (fn. 505) One court was held at Datchet and another in the castle.
The jurisdiction of the castle court extended over almost the whole forest of Windsor, the borough of New Windsor being excepted. (fn. 506) It included the seven hundreds of Cookham and Bray, the hundred of Ripplesmere and Wargrave and parts of the hundreds of Sonning and Beynhurst, together with manors in Bucks., Surrey and Wilts. (fn. 507)
Among the payments due to the castle under the terms of the original grants were the two Indian arrows (fn. 508) tendered on Easter Tuesday by which the province of Baltimore was held, and the two beaver skins by which the province of Pennsylvania was held. The arrival of the latter on New Year's Day, 1753, formed the subject of an anxious letter from the deputy governor to the constable. He could not find that they had ever been tendered to his predecessors, and as they were undressed he was anxious for instructions as to how to dispose of this awkward form of tribute. There is a record of these skins being presented in 1754 and 1758. (fn. 509)
As already stated, the manor of Woodstock is held by the Duke of Marlborough by the service of rendering a flag of fleurs de lis on the anniversary of the battle of Blenheim. The Duke of Wellington holds the manor of Stratfieldsaye by the similar service of depositing annually in Windsor Castle a tri-coloured flag on the day of Waterloo.
The estate of FROGMORE HOUSE in Windsor Park has always belonged to the Crown. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries it was frequently granted out on long leases. Thus in 1590 Humphrey Michell obtained a lease of the property, which was described as the capital messuage of Frogmore. (fn. 510) Henry Sadock was lessee in 1617 (fn. 511); in 1624 it was leased to William Holt and William Gwynne for thirty-one years. In the survey of 1649 it is described as a 'decayed messuage.' (fn. 512) At the accession of Charles II, in 1661, it was leased to Thomas Howell for twenty-two years. (fn. 513) He must have surrendered this lease, for in 1672 Richard Francklyn obtained a thirty-one years' lease of Frogmore, (fn. 514) which in 1684 was granted on lease to Elizabeth Francklyn, widow, together with William Aldworth. (fn. 515) The latter in 1688 became sole lessee, (fn. 516) and his lease was renewed in 1700, (fn. 517) though the house itself was for some time occupied by George Fitzroy, Duke of Northumberland, a natural son of Charles II. He died in 1716. Frogmore House was held under lease from the Crown in the reign of George III by Mrs. Egerton. The lease was bought by Queen Charlotte in 1800; the house was rebuilt and gardens were laid out. (fn. 518) Frogmore was often the queen's residence. (fn. 519) She obtained a lease of it for ninety-nine years in 1809, for the lives of herself and her daughters, and after her death (17 November 1818) it was often occupied by the Princess Augusta Sophia. (fn. 520) On her death the lease was purchased by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and surrendered to the Crown, the house with its gardens and grounds of about 33 acres being appropriated to the use of the sovereign, becoming an appendage to the castle, and being maintained and regulated, like other royal palaces, by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. (fn. 521)
It was made over in September 1840 to the Duchess of Kent, who occupied it until her death in 1861. It afterwards became the residence of Albert Edward Prince of Wales, whose eldest son Prince Albert Victor was born there in January 1864, and was later occupied by Prince Christian.
The history of ST. GEORGE'S CHAPEL before the reign of Elizabeth has been treated in an earlier volume. (fn. 522)
In 1571 the canons of Windsor were petitioning for exemption from payment of the subsidy. It was pointed out that they had only 40s. corpus and 12d. a day when present, that they had to augment the salaries of choristers and virgers, that repairs cost them £900 and more yearly, and that they had various other expenses. (fn. 523) The dean was much occupied in lay affairs. In 1576 he was specially commended for his diligence in apprehending a man who was found in possession of a counterfeit seal of the Admiralty, (fn. 524) but next year the dean and chapter were warned not to try and evade contribution to the cost of the musters for Berks., 'stayenge them selfes uppon their privileges.' (fn. 525) In 1579 the dean was ordered to see to a Scotchman who had been preaching and uttering 'leude and disordered speeches.' (fn. 526) A little later he was to persuade Lord Paget, then in custody at Windsor, to conform to the established church, (fn. 527) and in 1588 he was ordered to examine the parson of Sonning, who was reported to have 'badde and Papistycall bookes and other lyke trompery.' (fn. 528)
There was an amusing dispute between the Crown and the dean and chapter over liability for the repair of one of the outer walls of the castle which fell down in 1603. (fn. 529) It was decided that the liability for repair lay with the Crown, but at the date of Norden's Survey the wall was still unrestored and the canons were seeking in vain to have it repaired. One of their body thought that the cause of their nonsuccess was that their 'wit was bounded with honesty,' but their attempt at bribing one of the officials was not very encouraging—they gave a purse of gold, but got no help. (fn. 530) The spot where the wall was rebuilt can still be identified. (fn. 531)
During the reign of James I efforts were made to provide new plate for the chapel, to make up for the loss of that sold in the reign of Edward VI. Subscriptions were raised from the knights of the Garter, but the work was not actually taken in hand until 1635, when a Nuremberg artist, Christian Van Vianen, was commissioned to make several new pieces of plate, £600 being advanced to him. Two years later Van Vianen had finished nine pieces of silver-gilt plate, elaborately chased with 'Scripture Histories.' Prince Charles gave two silver-gilt basins to commemorate his installation in 1638, and later two large candlesticks, two book covers and two large flagons were added. The total weight of these seventeen pieces, all of which were of Van Vianen's workmanship, was 3,580 ounces 7 pennyweights, at a cost of £1,564 6s. (fn. 532)
The dean complained bitterly in 1637 about the intrusion of improper persons into the chapel, who made the royal closet 'a common passage to the leads between the chapel and the tomb house' and picked out whole panes of the painted glass of the east window. The king ordered that locks and keys should be provided for the chapel. (fn. 533) Immediately after the occupation of the castle by the Parliamentary forces in 1642 the chapel was plundered of all its plate with the exception of two flagons and two chalices, the door of the chapel treasury being burst open by one Captain Fog. (fn. 534)
The Dean and Canons of St. George's were expelled from their houses by the governor, Colonel Venn, under an ordinance of April 1643 for seizing the lands of Papists, bishops, deans, deans and chapters and notorious delinquents. (fn. 535) They had petitioned Parliament for exemption as they did not bear arms, and the Speaker of the House of Lords directed the governor not to molest them as long as they lived quietly, but the governor seems to have decided that it was unsafe for them to remain, and by May they were leaving their homes and asking for permission to take their goods with them. (fn. 536) In spite of the order of the House of Lords that 'no disorders or disturbances' were to be made in the chapel, it was plundered by Venn. All the ornaments of the chapel were seized, the rich service of gold plate and the historic relics, including the coat of mail and surcoat of Edward IV, were seized, woodwork was torn up, and the organ and stained glass windows were destroyed. The plate was melted down, coined and sent northwards to Fairfax for the army.
By the personal exertions of the dean, Dr. Christopher Wren, certain of the chapel records were saved from destruction. He also saved the valuable garter set with diamonds which had belonged to Gustavus Adolphus by burying it beneath a floor, but it was unfortunately discovered before the end of the war. (fn. 537)
In December 1643 the House of Commons directed the governor to remove all 'scandalous monuments and pictures' from the chapel. (fn. 538) The work of destruction was so thoroughly done that in 1649 the chapel was unrecognizable by those who had known it well. (fn. 539)
After the dean and chapter had been driven out, many of their dependants were left in a miserable position, and the choristers petitioned Parliament for relief. (fn. 540) A sum of £50 yearly from the sequestrated revenues of the chapter was assigned in 1646 to the maintenance of ministers in the parish church; and certain persons, who included Sir Robert Bennet, kt., and Mr. Brown the butcher, were appointed to 'performe or officiate the lecture' in the parish church. (fn. 541) In April 1648 the Lords recommended that three ministers should be appointed to preach at Windsor, £100 a year being assigned to each. (fn. 542)
Trustees were appointed in 1650 for the sale of the lands of the dean and chapter. (fn. 543) In 1655 it was arranged that part of the former revenues of the dean and chapter should be assigned to the Poor Knights, and that the remainder should go to charitable purposes, the sum of £200 being assigned to 'the Commissioners for the Approbation of Public Preachers.' (fn. 544) Some of the tithes belonging to the college were assigned to the Windsor almshouses. (fn. 545) Cromwell is said to have used his influence to prevent further spoliation of the chapter and of their chapel, and in 1658 the governor was actually applying for money for the repair of the chapel. (fn. 546)
The restoration of St. George's Chapel to something of its former splendour was undertaken immediately after the king's accession. The knights of the Garter gave subscriptions 'with cheerful and ready consent,' and by 1667 there was again a full service of plate, including a pair of plain flagons, a pair of flagons adorned with the figure of St. George on horseback, a pair of chalices, a large embossed basin and a small basin, another pair of basins given by the Duchess of York, and a large pair of candlesticks. (fn. 547) The last named may be identified with the large silver-gilt candlesticks presented by the king, together with two silver book covers, in 1665. (fn. 548)
At the same time two pieces of tapestry to hang behind the altar were given to the chapel. (fn. 549)
In 1661 it was ordered that on the feast of St. George a hymn should be sung in the chapel instead of the usual Litany, and a couple of years later an organ was placed in the chapel. (fn. 550)
The dean of the chapel petitioned in 1662 for a visitation of the chapel by the Lord Chancellor; he spoke of abuses in the government of the chapter, 'some preaching false and heterodox doctrines, and questioning the authority under which they are.' (fn. 551) The visitation took place, but nothing of importance seems to have resulted from it.
The MILITARY KNIGHTS or POOR KNIGHTS OF WINDSOR were founded by Edward III in 1348. The Letters Patent founding the college of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, (fn. 552) provided that twenty-four Poor Knights who were impotent or necessitous should be maintained out of the revenues of the college and should be under the command of the warden of the college. (fn. 553) Four years later the number of Poor Knights was increased to twenty-six, possibly to correspond with the number of companions of the order of the Garter, who each presented one knight at the institution of that foundation. (fn. 554) In 1373 the king ratified his grants by a charter, which was confirmed in 1378, 1400, 1413 and 1423. (fn. 555) Subsequently the successive sovereigns filled up vacancies in their number. Records of such presentations are constantly found on the Patent and Close Rolls. (fn. 556) Poverty as well as past service in the field was a condition for membership of the foundation; if one of the Poor Knights acquired property worth £20 he was deprived of his place and someone else appointed. (fn. 557)
The Poor Knights resided in dwellings within the castle walls, shared with the canons of St. George's College the use of the garden on the south side of the castle granted by Edward III (fn. 558) and also the last of red herrings rendered annually by the corporation of Yarmouth under the terms of a grant of 1352. Before the end of his reign, in 1365, Edward III resumed possession of the castle garden, granting to the Poor Knights, choristers, &c., a garden in the town of Windsor. (fn. 559)
The first of many disputes between the Poor Knights and St. George's College seems to have arisen about 1378. The knights complained that the warden of the college retained the fines paid by the knights (12d. for each absence from chapel) which should have been divided among the knights themselves and also prevented the knights from having any share in the offerings made by the Knights Companion of the Garter. A full inquiry was made by the chancellor, who decided in favour of the Poor Knights with regard to the fines and their share in the offerings. The chancellor, however, found the foundation in a very unsatisfactory state. Two of the oldest of the Poor Knights lived scandalously immoral lives, and the chancellor ordered that in future on the third offence they should be expelled from the college, the royal licence being first obtained. (fn. 560)
In the reign of Edward IV an Act of Parliament confirming a previous charter granted by the king to the college contained a clause discharging the Dean and Canons of St. George's of the burden of maintaining the Poor Knights, for whom, according to the statute, the king had otherwise provided. (fn. 561) The nature of this provision has not been found, but the Poor Knights urgently pressed for the repeal of this statute on the accession of Henry VII. They did not succeed in this, and the dean in 1502 obtained a confirmation of the charter of Edward IV. (fn. 562) The position of the foundation must have been precarious, but the usual appointments to vacancies took place in the reign of Henry VII, and they must have been in receipt of a regular income. A statement of their income and expenditure in 1559 has been preserved. (fn. 563)
Under the will of Henry VIII 12d. a day was left to each of the thirteen Poor Knights, with an extra payment of £3 6s. 8d. yearly to the one to be chosen as their governor. Each of the knights was to receive once a year a white cloth gown embroidered with the Garter and with the shield and cross of St. George and a red cloth mantle. (fn. 564)
From the bequests to St. George's College under this will £600 a year was devoted to the building of dwellings for the Poor Knights on the south side of the Lower Ward. (fn. 565) The work does not seem to have been begun until the reign of Mary. By September 1558 the houses had been erected at a cost of £2,747 7s. 6d. (fn. 566) There were twelve separate houses and a square tower which contained the common hall and kitchen and the governor's lodging. Much of the stone was brought from the abbeys of Reading and Wallingford. (fn. 567)
The new statutes of the order of the Garter drawn up in 1552–3 do not mention the Poor Knights, though the draft statutes mentioned them with the provision that they should not use the 'superstitious ceremonies' to which they had before been accustomed. (fn. 568) The revised statutes were annulled by Queen Mary. On the completion of the new dwellings the queen nominated nine of the thirteen knights to fill them, and the assignment of lands for their maintenance was considered. The matter was delayed by the queen's illness and death. (fn. 569) Elizabeth, however, in the first year of her reign re-established the Poor Knights as part of the foundation of St. George's Chapel. (fn. 570) Each of them received £18 5s. yearly, their governor taking £3 6s. 8d. in addition, and they were each entitled to a coat or gown of red cloth with a mantle of blue or purple cloth. At the same time the queen issued a set of rules to govern the foundation, which are still in force. (fn. 571)
This allowance was doubled by James I, who provided that each knight should be paid an additional £18 5s. from the Exchequer. (fn. 572) A fee of £6 13s. 4d. for each of the Poor Knights is entered on the castle accounts. (fn. 573) This seems to have been an additional grant from the Crown.
During the reign of Charles I, by the bequest of Sir Francis Crane, who died in 1635, £1,500 was left to build dwellings within the castle for five Alms Knights, each of whom was to receive an allowance of £40 annually. (fn. 574) There was some delay in carrying on the buildings, caused partly by the negligence of Crane's executor and partly by the outbreak of the Civil War. (fn. 575) King Charles, however, recognized the five knights as an addition to the existing foundation, and contemplated bringing up the number to twentysix as originally settled. The war, however, frustrated this intention. (fn. 576) In this disturbed period the Poor Knights underwent some vicissitudes. In June 1647 the House of Lords ordered that the Poor Knights should be maintained from the proceeds of the sequestrated livings and that they should not be turned out of their dwellings, or should be given the profits obtained by keeping prisoners in these dwellings. (fn. 577) In September 1654 the House of Commons ordered that the Poor Knights should still be maintained, but in April 1657 this ordinance was discussed in the House of Commons, a Devonshire member, one Captain Hatsell, asserting that many poor parishes in Devon were 'robbed' to provide maintenance for these 'thirteen gentlemen.' He argued that it was 'robbing the soul to clothe the body,' and urged that the maintenance of a minister should be provided out of the Poor Knights' allowances. The House, however, resolved not to diminish the sum allowed for their maintenance. (fn. 578)
In 1655 a commission reported that the manor of Carbrooke in Norfolk was by the terms of Sir Richard Crane's (fn. 579) will bound to the payment of £200 yearly for the support of the Alms Knights and the rest of Sir Richard Crane's estate was liable to provide the sum required for completing the unfinished buildings. The buildings were finished in 1656. (fn. 580)
After Cromwell attained supreme power as Lord Protector he issued an ordinance to regulate the foundation. The Poor Knights attended the Protector's funeral and were provided with suits of mourning. (fn. 581) Once again before the Restoration the question of the Poor Knights came before Parliament, which in September 1659 appointed a commission to inquire into the whole question of their revenues and maintenance. (fn. 582)
For many years after the Restoration the history of the foundation is uneventful. Under the will of Samuel Travers, who died in 1725, money was provided for an annual payment of £60 each to seven gentlemen, for whom he hoped the king would allow a building to be erected in or near Windsor Castle. The testator desired that these gentlemen should be added to the existing eighteen Poor Knights, that they should be 'single men without children, inclined to lead a virtuous, studious, and devout life,' that they should live in a collegiate manner and keep a constant table. He directed that these knights should be lieutenants in the navy, chosen by the Commissioners of the Navy, the lord high admiral and the king. (fn. 583) This foundation was incorporated by George III in 1799 under the title of 'The Poor Knights of Windsor of the Foundation of Samuel Travers.' The Patent of incorporation forbade the knights to absent themselves for more than ten days in the year or to haunt the town or taverns. The governor, who was to be the senior in naval rank, was to have authority over the rest, the knights were to attend the feasts of St. George dressed in naval uniform and have an allowance of food and drink at the king's charge. (fn. 584)
Dwellings for these Naval Knights, as they were sometimes called, were built in 1802, and their incomes were increased by subsequent benefactions. They were not connected with the older foundation of the Poor Knights and are now dissolved.
In 1834 William IV changed the title of the Poor Knights to that of the Military Knights, by which they are now known. The present establishment (1913) consists of a governor, twelve knights on the royal foundation and four on the lower foundation.