Friday, December 18, 2009

Windsor Castle

Today (Friday) began with an easy 30 minute taxi ride to Windsor. Very cold out, several inches of snow on the ground, but no traffic problems. Our driver let us out right in front of Windsor Castle, very near where William Shakespeare surely must have waited to see the changing of the guard before he almost certainly would have gone in to the St. George Chapel to watch Mary Sidney's husband, two sons, her father, and her brother Robert get invested as a knight in The Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Robin at the Windsor Castle entrance.

The entrance from one courtyard to another.

Windsor Castle is in the middle of town. Robin strolls along the castle wall, headed towards the Thames.

A beautiful young woman stands by the gate at the rear entrance to the castle. 

The same woman, admiring the St. George Chapel. That's the same St. George that was a dragon slayer.

The inside of the chapel is amazing. Henry VIII is buried here, along with lots of other noble persons. Incredible architecture and memorial statues inside. Unfortunately the choir didn't perform because of the weather. And the changing of the guard ceremony was cancelled because of weather. Also unfortunately, no photos or video allowed inside. Do a Google image search for St. George Chapel.

We stood there, visualizing Mary Sidney standing in the balcony as she watched her husband, two sons, her father, and her brother Robert get invested as a knight in The Most Noble Order of the Garter. King Henry VIII added the balcony for Katherine of Aragon so she could watch these ceremonies (1509 – 1547). Hmmm, that's a hundred years before Santa Fe's mud hut Palace of the Governors was built. I guess those Europeans are just hard to beat when it comes to over-the-top chapels, cathedrals, and castles.

A special King Henry VIII exhibit in the State Apartments (not usually open for tours), included original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. There were many other drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger (drawings of important members of Henry's court, like Thomas More and other interesting characters you might have seen in the HBO series The Tudors). Drawings by Peter Brughel the Elder were also on display, and others I don't remember. The castle must have one of the greatest collections of art in the world. And of course, we saw King Henry's suit of armor, plus lots of others suits of armor. Tons of swords, rifles, pistols, fancy china, incredible furniture, and gifts that have been given to various kings and queens. Needless to say, I felt impoverished by the time we left to meet Susan Sheridan at The Carpenters Arms for lunch, just a stone's throw from the castle grounds. Susan was the recipient of a Mary Sidney scholarship a couple of years ago.

The Carpenters Arms pub. Good food. Interesting place. On a cobblestone street that King Henry VIII and Shakespeare must have walked down, arm in arm. Oops. Maybe not. He wasn't born yet. But maybe the dates are wrong. Hey, it works for the Oxfordians.

Robin and Susan discuss authorship at The Carpenters Arms.

After lunch Robin and I walked around town, seeing the sights and taking photos.

The Crooked House of Windsor.

A woman feeds the swans on the bank of the Thames River. Which causes a pigeon attack. All swans on the Thames belong to the Queen. The bridge in the background goes to Eaton, home of super-exclusive private schools for royalty, nobility, and not you or me in general.

The Long Walk, a three mile, tree lined promenade behind Windsor Castle. From here we went to the old Rail Station (that is now a cool restaurant and specialty store mall) to meet our Oxford friends for dinner (Neal and Lynn Robson). Lynn was Robin's tutor during a couple of summer study courses in Oxford. 

The castle wall at dusk. The Old Rail Station (the new mall) is across the street. Henry would have loved it. Shakespeare too.

Our dinner destination. This railroad station was built for Queen Victoria, to make the trip from London easier and faster. Windsor is about an hour from London by car, but in Queen Victoria's time, travel was by carriage. 

The hilly parts of the road outside the castle have metal inserts in the curb, to prevent parked carriages from rolling down the street.

Robin studies a castle map.

More photos tomorrow.