Windsor Castle: Regency splendour coated in a thick layer of Gothic Romanticism


William the Conqueror's Round Tower with later embellishments.

William the Conqueror’s Round Tower with later embellishments.

On a gloriously sunny day my colleague Asem al Bunni and me took the opportunity to visit Windsor Castle. The Royal Standard was flying from the Round Tower indicating that the Queen was in residence, and that consequently the semi-state rooms would be closed to visitors. This did leave more than enough to see and explore though, indeed a futute visit is more than likely to better appreciate parts of the collections and exhibits. Like most of the Royal residences in use I’ve visited Windsor is also very polished, clean and sprueced up. Not here the charm of faded glory, original paintwork, or the odd unrestored painting, this palace is there to impress the glory and magnificence of the Great Brittish nation through one of their most succesfull attractions, the Royal family.

The Waterloo Chamber

The Waterloo Chamber

Much is made of the history of the castle which was built by William the Conqueror. And although the bare bones might hark back to that period, what one sees when visiting owes a lot  more to the Regency splendour that George IV injected into the castle. Even the splendid Stuart alterations can hardly vie with the work of James Wyatt and Jeffry Wyatville. The Waterloo Chamber is a splendid example of how George IV used architecture as  propaganda. One can image that this room would really impress with a lavishly laid table ready for a dinner.

The King's Bed Chamber with the magnificent bed 'a la Polonaise' .

The King’s Bed Chamber with the magnificent bed ‘a la Polonaise’ .

The King’s bed chamber houses the opulent bed ‘A la Polonaise’ which is unusual for an English state bed. The King’s Drawing Room combines exquisite pieces of lacquer and Boulle furniture with an impressive collection of work by Rubens and Van Dyck, all of it served up with lashings of gold.

King's Drawing room, Rubens and Van Dyck vying for attention with Boulle work and ormolu.

King’s Drawing room, Rubens and Van Dyck vying for attention with Boulle work and ormolu.

In the Queen’s Presence Chamber brings us back to the magnificence of the Stuart period with its Gobelin tapestries, ceiling painting by Antonio Verrio and the intricate carvings of Grinling Gibbons, although the Adam firplace with Victorian additions does make a good show of competing with all this Baroque.

The Queen's Presence Chamber

The Queen’s Presence Chamber

At Windsor you never seem far removed from references of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The Garter Throne room plays an important in the pomp and pageantry involved with the Garter ceremony. The room is so large that its hard to appreciate the intricate details of the ivory throne.

The Garter Throne Room

The Garter Throne Room

My next visit to the castle will have to be on a rainy week day, just to see if it is possible to appreciate all the beauty with fewer people. I’m also looking forward to see the semi-state apartments. I’ll add seperate blog posts for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and St. George’s Chapel.