History of Windsor
Castle, Part 7
by Evelyn Ingleby
W I N D S O
C A S T L E
The first and
second Georges did not care for Windsor, but it was a favourite residence of
III; but into such dilapidation was it allowed to fall that, in 1778, it was declared uninhabitable. It was therefore resolved to keep what was standing from falling into ruins, but to build a new lodge on the site of the house which
Queen Anne preferred as a residence to the magnificence of the Castle.
The new residence, dubbed 'The Queen's Lodge' was a long narrow building with battlements facing north towards the old Castle walls. It was here that Queen Charlotte lived when Fanny Burney, the author of "Evelina," afterwards known as Madame d' Arblay, was her
maid-of-honour. According to Miss Burney's diary, the life at Windsor must have furnished anything but the excitement which is supposed to be the necessary element of court life. At eight o'clock, the King and Queen attended prayers in the private chapel. In the afternoon, the King and Queen and the princesses walked on the terrace.
By-the-by, on this terrace there is a sun-dial, which was the cause of an interesting little incident. The King and the Duke of York were, one day, walking on the terrace, when the King leant his arms on the
sun-dial. A sentry immediately came forward and respectfully, but decidedly, informed the King that it was part of his duty to prevent any person from touching the dial. The King was so charmed, that he commended the soldier to his colonel and he was shortly afterwards promoted. Every evening, there was music in the
concert-room, the King being very fond of Handel. In 1788, Miss Burney describes one of the King's attacks of madness. The Prince of Wales and his brother, and several doctors and equerries, sat up all night, whilst the King raved up and down in an adjoining room and made occasional excursions in various apartments, addressing wild accusations of neglect to each and every of his attendants. Till at length, Mr. Fairly, one of them, led him gently, but forcibly, away. During the King's illness, the Prince of Wales and Duke of York lodged in the Castle and even held formal dinners there, whence it may be deduced that formerly even the Royal kitchen in the Castle had fallen into desuetude.
Although the Queen's Lodge was now the chief Royal residence, some attention was paid to the restoration of the ancient Castle and, in 1800, James Wyatt built a new staircase and also restored some apartments looking on to the north terrace, whither the old King was removed during his last attack of madness. On his death, he was laid under the chapel at the east end of St. George's, in the vault which, in 1810, had been erected for his daughter, Amelia.
During the reigns of George IV and
IV, James Wyatt's brother, Jeffry Wyatt, whom George IV knighted and called Wyatville, continued the work of restoration and, gradually, nearly all traces of the castle, as it was during the latter part of the eighteenth
century, disappeared. He raised the Round Tower to its present height, designed the plan for the east and west sides of the Upper Ward, raised the level of all the roofs, filled up the Brick Court with a grand staircase and the Horn Court with the Waterloo Gallery, united the stables, which were dotted throughout the Town, on Castle Hill, and built the Brunswick Tower, and the York and Lancaster Tower. It is to Wyatville's good taste and fine artistic perceptions that we owe the fact that Windsor retains its characteristics of a medieval fortress, and has not been converted into a stiffly symmetrical building, then so much affected. George IV's favourite residence was the lodge near the Long Walk, now known as the 'Royal Lodge,' but, two years before his death, he removed to the castle, and his long illness kept him prisoner here till his death. In the same room, later on called the 'Queen's Drawing Room,' exactly seven years later, King William also died.
St. George's Chapel
from PH Ditchfield's "Bygone Berkshire" (1896)