Today was the day I’d been waiting for. Today was the day that I was finally going to stand on Henry VIII’s grave. This was the deciding point of the question, “Where do I want to go for my birthday?”
My main wish was to stand on his grave on my actual birthday, which is September 6. Unfortunately, this fell on a Wednesday this year and the chapel is closed on Wednesdays. Momentarily dashed by this news, I rallied and so today- on Friday – I was finally going to fulfill the dream of a lifetime.
Windsor Castle is the oldest working castle in the world.
Windsor Castle is conveniently located right outside the train station. Nice of William the Conqueror to put the castle here back on 1066. So easy for the tourists.
On my way towards the castle I saw an art gallery with prints by Billy Connelly. I filed that information away to use on the way back.
I had a ticket for 10 o’clock, so I wandered around the streets for a bit.
I stood chatting to a nice policewoman for a few minutes.
“See down there?” She said, pointing. “Fortescues has the best ice cream in Windsor, in my opinion.”
Finally it was time to go in. I presented my ticket to the guard, queued for my audio guide and then I emerged into the open space within the castle walls. If I went up, I’d be going to the castle state rooms. But if I headed down the hill, I’d be walking towards St George chapel, where Henry is buried. So are 11 other monarchs, including Elizabeth II last year.
I saw this on the way. Then I saw another changing of the guard…
But enough of that! Time for the chapel.
The chapel was incredibly beautiful.
It also had my signs saying NO PHOTOGRAPHY. Fortunately I only got caught right at the end.
The first thing I did was to light a candle for my great grandfather, who died in France in the trenches of WWI. Just thought I’d let him know I was back.
when I told you about Princess Charlotte dying in childbirth and bring forth the race for her royal uncles to produce an heir? The race which resulted in Victoria being born.
This statue was paid for by donations from the public, who were apparently distraught at the princess’s death.
She’s lying at the bottom of the statue, under a shroud, while above, her spirit is soaring to heaven. Angels are either side of her, one holding her stillborn baby.
I think this statue is wonderful. It’s tucked away in an alcove of the chapel behind a barrier. You’d walk straight past it if it wasn’t on the audio guide.
History would probably have been very different if Queen Charlotte had’ve inherited the throne instead of Queen Victoria.
Now this was a thrill!
Here are the graves of Edward of York and Elizabeth Woodville.
She must have been incredibly hot. Legend has it that she was waiting at the side of the road to petition the king for some money to support herself and her 2 sons, because her husband had died in the war of the roses, fighting for the other side.
He took one look at her and was absolutely smitten and married her in secret, which really annoyed a powerful nobleman called Warwick, who was engaged in negotiations with the French king for Edward to marry one of his daughters. Embarrassing…
They ended up having 6, (I think) children, with the 2 boys becoming the lost princes of the Tower of London.
Yes, when Edward died at the ripe old age of 41, probably from too much carousing and fornicating, the oldest boy became king. The boys were put into the Tower “ to keep them safe “ and were never heard from again. Suspicion is on their uncle Richard II, who became king, but no one really knows for sure what happened.
The altar is stunning. It faces east, which is apparently a thing in churches, because Christ said that he’ll popping back to earth in the morning.
I had a feeling that I was getting close to my life goal of standing on Henry VIII’s grave. I spoke to a guide who, when I asked if I was near, smiled and said, “You’re about 10 feet away.”
Then he said, “I’ll show you something,” and he brought a photograph of the contents of Henry’s grave.
He said that there was some debate about whether Charles I was in there with him, so they lifted the slab and had a look.
The coffin in the middle was Henry VIII. The coffin was damaged, probably by Cromwell’s troops. To his right was Jane Seymour, the only wife who succeeded in giving him a legitimate son. ( She died 11 days later, poor thing.)
The coffin on the left had a body whose head had been cut off, so that was a big hint that it was actually Charles I. Someone had tried to sew the head back onto the body, which I felt was a bit sad.
A stillborn baby of Queen Anne was in there too.
The guide then told me about the stalls which were on either side of the altar. These were for the Knights of the Garter. Each knight gets his own stall, with a brass plate, a sword and a banner. If the knight is a woman, they get a brass plaque, a hat and banner.
Prince William is the 1,000th Knight of the Garter. Nice round number.
I was strangely reluctant to move further, so I sat down and gazed around at the beautifully carved stalls and all of the colours of the chapel. No wonder the Queen wanted to be buried here.
Forgot to mention that I saw her final resting place on the way into the main part of the chapel.
Here it is. A simple marble slab set into the floor of the chapel. This wasn’t at all how Henry planned to be interred. He’d planned a huge memorial tomb with lifelike figures of himself and Jane, but he died before work could really get started.
I sat there for quite a while, looking at the grave and pondering life.
On my way out, I stopped to read another marble slab. Omg – it’s Charles Brandon.
He was one of Henry VIII’s best friends. He was entrusted with taking Henry’s little sister over to France to marry the old king there.
She wasn’t happy about this match at all, so she got Henry to promise that she could choose her next husband herself.
On the way over, she and Brandon fell in love.
She proceeded to marry the French king and spent the next year trying her hardest to push him into an early grave by exhausting him every day.
It worked, and she and Brandon married in secret. When they came clean, it was a dangerous moment. Henry was FURIOUS because a marriageable princess was a useful bargaining chip for a king to have. After a few months, he missed his friend’s company, so he graciously forgave them and bought them back to court.
I had to show you this. He must have been very talented to capture the devil in this way!
I succumbed and bought an Anne of Cleves Christmas tree ornament.
She was his fourth wife, who had the brains to accept his proposal of divorce. She was given lots of money and many properties. She wasn’t allowed to marry, but really, I’d imagine that once you’ve escaped the snare of marrying Henry, you’d be keen to keep your freedom.
Outside Prince Albert’s last resting place, I saw this ancient graffiti.
This is a little look at the world outside. See how thick the walls are?
Like a toy soldier.
I walked back up the hill towards the queue to the staterooms. Gazing up at the Round Tower, I reflected that in a couple of hours, I’d be climbing to the top.
Everywhere I looked was amazing. It’s like I was in a movie.
I’m loving it.
The first thing I saw was Queen Mary’s doll house.
This was never intended as a toy, but as a demonstration of British craftsmanship. It’s a 1:12 scale and was impressive. Built in 1924, it has running water and electricity. Even the gramophone player can play the records.
They were adamant about no photos in the staterooms, and in the main I respected it. I already had the important pictures of the chapel. But now and then something came along that was all too tempting.
Grand reception room. WOW.
it was stunning. There was gold leaf everywhere! It was fantastic,
The room was extensively damaged in the fire that ripped through Windsor Castle in 1992. The ceiling, in particular, was destroyed and has been totally restored.
They certainly did a great job. It was wonderful.
In another room I saw these portraits. One was of a young Princess Elizabeth, with a couple of books beside her showing that she was intelligent and learned. The underskirt and sleeves are made of material used only for royals, while again, she’s wearing pearls.
The other was of her half=brother, Prince Edward, before he became king when his father, Henry VIII died. There’s a definite family resemblance, isn’t there?
All of Henry’s plotting and planning to get a male heir was all for nothing. Edward died when he was just 16, probably of tuberculosis.
And here’s the portrait of King Richard III. The king in the car park, Shakespeare’s evil villain.
But I’ve always had a soft spot for him, after reading Sharon Penman’s novel ‘ The Sunny in Splendour.’
I had to take a shot of this one. It’s Charles II’s official bed, where he was ceremoniously put to bed and woken up each day.
What a colossal waste of time! He was a notorious philanderer, so as soon as the gentlemen putting him to bed had left, he would have been up and moving onwards to one of his mistresses rooms.
The shots that follow are of the Grand Quadrangle.
During the fire of 1992, priceless works of art, furniture and books that are so precious that it would normally take weeks to work out how to move them, were hastily grabbed and thrown on this patch of grass, simply to stop them from being destroyed.
Queen Victoria once invited a circus to come and perform for the inhabi Of the castle, and they were located here.
In earlier days, this was where jousting was held.
I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that my climb up the 200 steps of the Round Tower was a guided tour. Again, no photos were permitted before a certain point, which made sense as it’s a working part of the castle so they need to be careful about security.
But I took this sneaky pic of the first entry point of the tower.
You can see that the stairs get progressively more narrow the further up you go. This is to create a bottleneck of knights and soldiers, making it easier for the defenders to pick them off.
if you enlarge the picture, you’ll notice that in the middle of the wall at the end is a small cannon sticking out. It was put in in the 1640’s. it’s designed to shoot grapeshot. It’s never been used, but I guess it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it,
Once we were past a certain point, we were allowed to take photos.
I don’t think any enemy would be able to sneak up on the castle unawares!
This is a view of the Long Walk It takes people straight to the racetrack at Ascot.
It turns out that I was here on the first anniversary of the Queen’s death.
This is not the place to drop your phone.
Our guide explained that the stones that Windsor Castle are made of contain silica. Whenever it rains, and in England it often does, the stones self clean. It always looks clean.
William the Conqueror built a ring of castles 25 miles apart, all to protect London. Twenty five miles is the average day’s ride for an army. Windsor is one of them.
I tried to get a picture of one of the planes flying over the castle. The juxtaposition of old and new. Tried and tried…
Until at last, just as I left the gate, I had my chance!
And of course I went back to the ice cream shop.
It was delicious.
As if this day wasn’t already amazing, I also saw the perfect painting to represent this trip to the UK.
The story behind this series is that the artist is saying that all of the important, iconic things in your childhood get gradually buried under the day-to-day lives we all lead.
But they’re still reaching out to us, saying, “We’re still here… Don’t forget us….”
I’ve warned Ryan28 to expect a very large parcel. It turns out that they’re shipping it to me in the frame!