This Painting has been selected for the Royal Arts Prize, 2020. If purchased before that, it will be delivered after the Exhibition in February.
A glorious and comfortable home, Windsor Castle has been a Royal Residence from Saxon times, in the 9thCenturyAD. William the Conqueror build the first Motte and Bailey fortification from1070 to 1086, allowing easy access by river to London. It was used as a Hunting Lodge for the plentiful deer in the forests around it. Henry Ist and Henry IIndadded to the construction, building the Round Tower and Henry IIIrd added more walls and the Royal Chapel. This is one of the key British Royal Mausoleums. Residential apartments for monarchs have been built and embellished by subsequent monarchs. It has commanding views over the Berkshire countryside and King John resided here often in his reign, when he was forced to sign the magna Carta at Runnymede, nearby.
There has always been considerable Royal activity at Windsor Castle, from jousting Tournaments to visits by Royal Monarchs from overseas. Edward III had a recreation of King Arthur?s Round Table, complete with 19 chosen knights from 1343-5 which resulted in the formation of the Order of the Garter, in 1348.
James the eldest son of the King of Scots (afterwards James IV of Scotland), was kept in ?honourable captivity? at the Castle, with a substantial allowance, for 11 years. Many other noble prisoners were kept in less happy circumstances, including the French Princes after Agincourt. 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. Other prisoners were Welsh rebels, Fleet Street brawlers and the men concerned in Jack Cade’s rebellion.
Edward IV entertained in what was typical Royal fashion for the feast of St. George in 1476: 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.
Henry VII is recorded as having a Real Tennis Court, along with Royal secret chambers and a secret chapel. Elizabeth I spent many happy years in residence, hunting and reading, and escaping the Plague in London.
Throughout the Monarchs reigns, the Order of the Garter feasts have been a great highlight, with Royal Kings and Emperors regularly receiving knighthoods. Oliver Cromwell formed his New Model Army here, complete with the training of twenty-one Regiments. During his ?Protection? most of the treasures and furnishings held in the Castle were confiscated and sold. These were replaced by Charles II after the Restoration of the Monarchy.
The Castle was a great favourite residence of George III and of Queen Victoria, and most British Monarchs have enjoyed all the hunting, shooting, fishing, riding and other amenities alongside the Shah?s and Czars and Emperors who have been their guests.
So while the outside is one of the prettiest Castles in Britain, the association with so much history imbues Windsor Castle with prestige.