Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Windsor Castle is

"The most Romantique castle that is in the world."
So said Samuel Pepys in 1666.

J.J, 2008 "Cool."

Well OK - I love history, and have in my time studied the Tudors in particular, and this tour of the castle brings so much to life, but as with the Eton trip, not life as was experienced by the populace at large. There were several things about the tour that were staggering, but rather a lot of things that were frankly obscene in my eyes, but I do have to declare a certain anti- monarchist bias here.

There was one moment when I felt a stab of pity for the Queen. There is a display where some dolls were on display. These dolls were presented to Liz and Margaret when they were little by the French and came complete with an entire set of clothes, jewellery, shoes, cosmetics you name it these dolls had it. What a GREAT present for little girls. The pity I felt was when it was immediately obvious these dolls had never ever been played with. "Don't touch children!" Oh and to have a doll's house which they couldn't play with either. I LOVED my doll's house so much when I was little and can imagine no worse torture at a young age than to be able to look at the best doll's house EVER, and not be allowed to rearrange the furniture. Anyway, I soon got over the sympathy bit when I saw the conditions the royals have had to put up with over the years.

What is really good about a trip round this castle is that you are given an audio commentary which tells you about each area or room you see so even with purchasing a guide book you learn a lot. I did also buy a guide book and am glad I did for the subtle royalist propaganda. For example it describes the armour worn by Henry VIII thus : "The armour records the King's impressive proportions, which were quite exceptional in the sixteenth century. And there was me thinking all these years that he was just a fat bastard!

There is a section in the book about the 1992 fire. It says the Duke of Edinburgh oversaw the restoration project as a whole whilst the Prince of Wales presided over the Art and Design Committee. I can only start to imagine what a delicate task trying not to piss those two off must have been for the other committee members, especially given Charles's views on modern architecture.

Talking of Charles there is a special exhibition in the castle at the moment about royal weddings from Victoria's onwards, but sadly there seems to have been no space (in the biggest castle in Europe) to mention his wedding (either of his weddings in fact.)A veil also seems to have been drawn over the wedding of Andrew to Sarah (see this link for welcome reminder of her dress sense, which for some reason puts me in mind of Aintree.)

So, in brief now as I am in danger of waffling on for ever and I need to get to the gym, I saw lots of expensive paintings, lots of expensive furniture, lots of expensive stolen goods (nicked whilst we were busy expanding the empire), and a lovely Gothic chapel. Very strange feeling indeed to know that at one point the mortal remains of both Henry VIII and Charles I were below my feet.

But as to which part I liked best - no contest.

The garden in the castle moat was stunning.


Karen said...

What is it with the Hate Mail and putting photos of women in hideous dresses everywhere?

J.J said...

For a paper that sees markets itself as one for women, they don't exactly like women much do they?

Karen said...

Well I sure as hell wouldn't buy it!

I once camped in the Queen's "back garden" in Windsor when I was in Guides. There was an international camp for a week in a massive park and you could see the castle from there. I didn't actually go around the castle but fell in love with the shops of Windsor. Being about 15 I couldn't afford to buy much. I remember browsing in Gap for ages as they had lovely air conditioning (98 was a hot summer) and they were playing Radiohead.