Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Feature Sets (2)

Description

Windsor Castle, founded by King William I, consists of a big chalk motte on which stands a round tower, with walled enclosures to the W (the Lower Ward) and E (the Upper Ward. This is no place for a full architectural description of the castle, especially since it is by no means certain that the carved Romanesque stones described here were originally from this site (see Comments and Opinions, below), but the Bibliography will be useful as a guide to further reading about the site.

The material described here is all in the form of loose or reset stones, out of context and displayed in various locations around the castle, as follows.

 

The Moat Garden

This is the cultivated motte on which the Round Tower stands. The earliest account we have of a garden on the mound is in King James I of Scotland’s poem,The King’s Quair, written during his period of captivity at Windsor Castle between 1413 and 1423.  This describes a small and private garden alongside the wall of the Round Tower :

Now was there maid, fast by the Touris wall,

A gardyn faire, and in the corneris set,

Ane herbere grene, with wandis long and small,

Railit about, and so with treis set

Was all the place, and hawthorn hegis knet,

That lyf was non, walkyng there forbye,

That mycht within scarce any wight aspy. (Tighe and Davies (1858), 79.)

There was little or no planting on the rest of the mound then, and none is visible in Norden’s 1607 view of the castle, but Hollar’s c.1672 engraving shows the south slopes divided into a series of geometric beds, quite unlike the present arrangement. (Roberts (1997), 161). 

The area of the mound is associated with the so-called Norman Gate, built alongside it by William of Wykeham c.1359. At the time of Wyatville’s restoration of the castle, the mound had been rented out to a fruit and vegetable grower who sold the produce at market. The fruit trees planted against the curtain walls below the Round Tower were apparently undermining it, and in 1836 Wyatville sent a strongly-worded letter to the then resident of the Norman Gate, Lady Mary Fox, the State Housekeeper, warning her that if any more fruit trees were planted there was a danger of it collapsing.  Indeed, some years earlier part of the wall had collapsed for this very reason, and repairs at a cost of £1500 were needed to repair the damage. (Taylor (1935)).  By 1844, when the mound was photographed by Fox-Talbot, it was planted with a few shrubs and small trees, but there was no longer any evidence of systematic fruit-growing. The wall that partly encircles the mound on the inner side of the middle terrace was in place by that date (figure 1).

In 1901 the Norman Gate was given as a residence to the Right Hon. Sir Dighton Probyn, on his appointment as Keeper of the Privy Purse. Probyn had been a young officer during the Indian Mutiny, when he was awarded the VC and he rose to the rank of general before he entered the service of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. It was Probyn who was responsible for clearing away the remains of the Victorian design, and he transformed the mound into a richly-planted and less formal garden. He brought brown Carstone from Norfolk to build a rock garden, and introduced a water and bog garden and the present scheme of walls, terraces, borders and architectural ornaments. As we shall see, this work was in progress when Keyser photographed the Romanesque stones c.1915.  The garden was neglected during the remainder of the Great War, and many plants were lost in the drought of 1921, so that Lord Wigram, Probyn’s successor as occupant of the house, had to restore the garden and added rare plants from the Far East (Taylor (1935), 326-28).

The present design is more or less Probyn’s, and consists of an outer crescent following the inside of the lower moat wall with a long bed of shrubs and herbaceous plants that runs in a three-quarter circle from the NE to the SE of the mound (figure 2). On this wall is an arched feature made of Romanesque carved stones (figure 3), and other loose stones are placed on stone shelves built onto its inner face. The bed is bounded on the inside by a low brick retaining wall, and inside this the ground is terraced to provide a flat lawn  enhanced by rose beds and a small pond, with a paved terrace at the east end. From the inner edge of the lawn the mound rises steeply to the base of the Round Tower curtain wall, some 90 or 100 feet above. The lower slopes are simply grassed except towards the E, where they are planted with shrubs and trees, and at the far northern end, where the rockery descends with a series of pools and a flight of steps from the rear entrance of the Norman Gate, now the Governor’s residence, to the level of the moat wall (figure 4). At the top is the Herbere pavilion, and below it the Corinthian Fountain (figure 5), both of which include Romanesque carvings described here. Partway up the mound, and concentric with the line of the lower moat wall at the bottom and the Round Tower curtain wall at the top is a narrow terrace now known as the middle terrace (figure 6), and another arched feature made up of Romanesque carved stones is set there, with further carved stones placed on a shelf at the east end of the terrace (figures 7, 8). Above the middle terrace, up to the curtain wall of the Round Tower, the planting is denser, though still informal. At the extreme east end of the garden, at the foot of the mound, are greenhouses. The slope rising behind them has been reinforced with ashlar blocks, and among them are several stones with roll-moulded edges that show traces of possible Romanesque carving (figure 9). 

The South Bowe

The South Bowe is a blocked sally port on the south side of the Upper Ward of the castle. It appears to date from the thirteenth century, although there is little in the structure that is diagnostic of date. In the passage is a rough arch constructed largely of clunch but including, in its west jamb, two moulded stones and two chevron voussoirs (figure 10). 

The Carronade wall

The carronade wall is the retaining wall of the central motte on the Upper Ward side. A single stone carved with two units of diapering is set into this, described as cat. 55. It was photographed by Tsang and drawn by Brian Kerr. (figure 11).

All stones are numbered and described; the organisation of the stones being based on the type of object rather than its location.  Loose stones were all photographed separately, but this was not always possible for stones built into structures, most notably the two arched structures in the Moat Garden.  In these cases stones were identified by their position within the structure, and photographic references to the figures in which they appear are included in the feature descriptions. 

1. The Lower Moat Wall. This structure takes the form of an arch attached to the garden side of the lower moat wall at the west (figure 12).  There are two non-Romanesque stones carved with human figures in the centre, and around them is an arch made up of twelve 12th-century stones.  Each jamb is made up of three stones, the arch is of five voussoirs and a niche-head in the centre forms a pseudo- tympanum. In the catalogue these stones are identified as follows:

LM1 - LM 3. Left jamb, bottom to top.

LM 4 - LM 8. Voussoirs of arch, left to right.

LM 9 - LM 11. Right jamb, top to bottom.

LM 12. Niche-head “tympanum”.

2. The Middle Terrace. The main feature is a structure in the form of an arch at the west side of this terrace, supported on a capital (R) or an impost (L) (figure 13). Five voussoirs form the arch, and five sections of label of two different designs surround the arch.  Under the arch is another niche head, and below this, forming the centrepiece framed by the arch, is a post-medieval lion’s head.  In the catalogue these stones are identified as follows:

MT1 - MT5. Label stones, left to right

MT6. Left hand impost

MT7 - MT11. Stones of arch, left to right

MT12. Right hand capital

MT13. Niche-head “tympanum”

History

Edward the Confessor held his court at his hall at Old Windsor, but this was not on the present castle site. King Edward granted Windsor with 20 hides to St Peter's Westminster on the eve of the Conquest, but William I recovered it in exchange for lands in Battersea. He began work on the castle at an unknown date in the 11thc, and work was advanced enough for it to be used as a royal residence by the 1090s. In 1095, following VCH (1923), the Earl of Northumbria was imprisoned there, and in 1100 William FitzWalter was appointed constable. From 1095, when William Rufus kept Pentecost there, until the present day, Windsor has been a regular royal residence.

The castle was certainly begun by William I, and Henry of Huntingdon records under the year 1110 that the King held his court at at Whitsun at New Windsor, which he had built himself (Greenway (2002), 52). VCH suggests that Henry I's work was confined to the royal lodging in the upper bailey.  In Henry II's reign, large sums were spent on the castle in 1169-79. Later works are summarised in VCH (1923), 29-56.

Features

Loose Sculpture

01. Chevron voussoirs type 1 (5 stones)

Chevron arch voussoirs carved with a unit of frontal chevron in three rows: hollow with nailhead, roll, hollow with nailhead. The inner edge has no special treatment, suggesting that the voussoirs are not from the inner order of an arch. All are carved from a very shelly oolitic limestone. Of the five surviving  type 1 chevron voussoirs, three are well-enough preserved to allow an estimate of the size of the arch from which they came. An inner diameter of approximately 1.4m has been estimated, which suggests a doorway, and one elaborate enough to have at least two orders (since the edge treatment of these voussoirs shows that they are not from an inner arch order).

Stone 1

Loose stone in the bed inside the lower moat wall. The voussoir is slightly worn overall, and there is a loss to the front face at the right extrados.

Width at extrados            0.22m

Width at intrados            0.165m

Height of face                 0.22m

Depth of voussoir           0.235m

Stone 2

Loose stone in the bed inside the lower moat wall.  Slightly worn overall with no major losses to the carved surfaces.

Width at extrados            0.22m

Width at intrados            0.12m

Height of face                 0.22m

Depth of voussoir           0.34m

Stone 3

Loose stone in the bed inside the lower moat wall.  Generally worn overall and chipped at the edges.

Width at extrados            0.21m

Width at intrados            0.16m

Height of face                 0.22m

Depth of voussoir           0.24m

Stone 4

Loose stone in the bed inside the lower moat wall.  Generally worn and with major losses to the front face at the right intrados and the right extrados.

Width at extrados            0.21m

Width at intrados            0.16m

Height of face                 0.22m

Depth of voussoir           0.35m

Stone 5

Loose stone in the bed at the foot of the lower moat wall arched feature, below its left jamb.  It is clearly of the same type, but badly eroded.

Width at extrados            0.19m

Width at intrados            0.16m

Height of face                 0.21m

Depth of voussoir    0.30m

02. Chevron voussoirs type 2 (2 stones)

Voussoirs carved with a roll in the centre of the face, flanked by a unit of frontal chevron on a roll on either side. All voussoirs of this type are incorporated in the arched feature built against the lower moat wall. Their present installation prevents accurate measurement, and it is therefore unclear whether the chevron decoration was on the face or the soffit of an arch, or whether the stones came originally from a jamb rather than an arch. The stones are of a shelly oolitic limestone, possibly from the Windrush valley.

Stone 6

LM stone 2 (1st photograph, 2nd from bottom). The stone is generally worn, with a major loss to the lower edge of the left chevron unit.

Max. width of stone        0.33m

Height. of stone              0.175m

Stone 7

LM stone 10 (2nd photograph, 2nd from bottom). The stone is generally worn, but with no major losses.

Max. w. of stone              0.34m

h. of stone                        0.17m

03. Chevron voussoirs type 3 (2 stones)

As type 2 except that they consist only of a roll and a single unit of frontal chevron alongside. There is a slight possibility that they are type 2 voussoirs that have had one of the chevron rolls trimmed off, but both are taller (in their present setting) so they have been treated as a different type here. All voussoirs of this type are incorporated in the arched feature built against the lower moat wall. The stones are of a shelly oolitic limestone, possibly from the Windrush valley.

Stone 8

LM stone 3 1st photograph, 3rd from bottom).

The stone is generally worn. It has been trimmed at the right and possibly the left too.

Max.width of stone         0.20m

Height of stone               0.28m

Stone 9

LM stone 9 (2nd photograph, 3rd from bottom).

The stone is generally worn. It has been trimmed at the right, losing the chevron unit entirely at this side.

Max. width of stone        0.19m

Height of stone               0.24m

04. Chevron voussoirs type 4 (2 stones)

Chevron voussoirs with a centrifugal unit of lateral chevron on a roll on the face, with a quirked cogwheel edge intrados.  Both voussoirs of this type are incorporated into the lower moat wall feature, and it was not possible to examine their soffits.

Stone 10

LM stone 4 (see photographs 1 and 3 above).

The voussoir is generally eroded and badly chipped around the intrados.

Width at extrados            0.155m

Height of face           0.25m

Stone 11

LM stone 8 (see photographs 2 and 3 above).

The voussoir is generally eroded and rounded by wear at the intrados. It was, however, possible to measure the depth of the block.

Width at extrados            0.18m

Height of face                 0.23m

Depth of voussoir           0.19m

05. Chevron voussoir type 5

A centrifugal chevron voussoir with 2 rows of chevron, both quirked rolls, lateral to the face and a cogwheel edge.

Stone 12

LM stone 6 (keystone of the arch).

This voussoir is slightly larger than others in the arch, and has been used as the keystone of the lower moat wall feature. It is in good condition.

Width at extrados            0.185m

Height of face                 0.295m

Depth of voussoir           0.25m

06. Chevron voussoir type 6

A chevron voussoir with a single angle roll of centrifugal chevron.

Stone 13

LM stone 7 (to R of keystone)

The stone is in fair condition, with a loss at the extrados on the right.

Width at extrados           0.15m

Height of face                  0.19m

07. Chevron voussoir type 7

A chevron voussoir with a single edge roll of centrifugal chevron, and outside it, on the face, a thin roll or fillet. Similar in design and dimensions to type 6, but differs in the face fillet and the edge treatment.

Stone 14

Loose stone in the bed inside the lower moat wall. It is badly eroded overall, with a pattern of parallel stratum bands left by the erosion.

Width at extrados           0.15m

Height of face                  0.18m

Depth of voussoir           0.24m

08. Chevron voussoir type 8

A centripetal chevron voussoir with a single edge roll. Only one example has been found.

Stone 15

Loose stone in the bed inside the lower moat wall. It is badly eroded overall, broken at the right and has a major loss to the intrados. The chevron unit is not symmetrical, suggesting that it might be a broken fragment of a stone that was originally two or more units wide.

Max. width of voussoir 0.27m

Height of voussoir         0.18m

Depth of voussoir           0.29m

09. Chevron voussoirs type 9 (4 stones)

Chevron voussoirs with an edge roll. These differ from type 8 in having multiple chevron units, either two or four, always carved with a half-unit at each end. The chevron is acute and reasonably regular. All four examples are found in the middle terrace feature.

Stone 16

MT stone 8 (see 1st and 2nd photographs).

In good condition and carved with two units of chevron.

Width at extrados           0.26m

Height of face           0.20m

Stone 17

MT stone 9 (see 2nd and 4th photographs).

Carved with four units of chevron, but the stone is generally worn and the points of the chevron are chipped and broken.

Width at extrados           0.37m

Height of face                  0.21m

Stone 18

MT stone 10 (see 2nd and 3rd photographs).

Carved with two units of chevron. The stone is in fair condition but there is a loss to the point of the left chevron unit.

Width at extrados           0.19m

Height of face                  0.18m

Stone 19

MT stone 11 (see 3rd photograph).

Carved with two units of chevron..

Width at extrados           0.18m

Height. of face          0.24m

10. Chevron voussoir type 10

Stone 20

On the Herbere pavilion shelf. Possibly of Caen stone. A lateral centrifugal face chevron voussoir from a large arch, carved with 4 plain chevron rolls. The inner edge is unusually treated with a cluster of fruit at the angle.

Length of voussoir         0.43m

Depth of voussoir           0.19m

Width at intrados           0.13m

Width at extrados    0.14m

11. Chevron voussoir type 11

This stone is in the Historic England store at Fort Cumberland, but is included here as it was found on the site. It is a jambstone or voussoir, quadrant-shaped in plan with two rows of chevron roll on the curved face.

Stone 21

Fort Cumberland store. Drawing 431-9310

The voussoir was recovered from excavation in the Round Tower, at context 10237, part of the masonry foundation of the timber-framed buildings erected inside the Round Tower in 1354-5. This consisted of mortared flint, chalk and reused masonry rubble. The stone is presumed to form part of the inner and front faces of a the jamb of an arch, although it could also be from an arch of large diameter. The dimensions are taken from the drawing.

Thickness of block: 0.10m

Max. width: 0.27m

Max. depth: 0.24m

12. Chevron voussoir type 12 (2 stones)

Chevron voussoirs carved with six rolls of centrifugal chevron with a cogwheel inner edge. Both are in the South Bowe.

Stone 22

South Bowe arch, W jamb, top stone.

The carved surface of the stone is almost complete, but details are concealed by the mortar in which it is set.

Width of voussoir at extrados   0.155m

Length of voussoir                      0.21m

Stone 23

South Bowe arch, W jamb.

This is set below stone 22. Only the inner part of the voussoir survives, including the cogwheel edge, but what remains is of the same design as stone 22.

No measurements taken.

13. Lozenge voussoir type 1

Voussoir from the soffit of an arch carved with a pair of single-roll chevron units flanking a square lozenge in the centre of the soffit.

Stone 24

Loose stone on a shelf attached to the lower moat wall. The stone is a shelly oolitic limestone, perhaps Taynton or similar. Condition is generally good.

Length of front face 0.36m

Width of front face 0.18m

Width of rear face 0.18m

Thickness of block 0.16m.

14. Fret voussoit type 1 (2 stones)

Voussoirs carved on the face with a half-unit of the fret, or embattled, ornament with a half-roll profile. There are two voussoirs of this design, both incorporated into garden features.

Stone 25

LM stone 5 (see 1st photograph).

The voussoir has a major loss at the left extrados and is chipped along the intrados.

Width at extrados           0.17m

Height of face                  0.25m

Stone 26

 MT stone 7 (see 2nd and 3rd photographs).

Similar to stone 25 (and carved with the same half unit of fret). The voussoir is in good condition.

Width at extrados           0.18m

Height of face           0.26m

15. Fret voussoir type 2

Voussoir carved on face and soffit with a row of fret ornament, the two rows arranged edge-to-edge.

Stone 27

The stone is very badly worn, and only identifiable because it appears in Keyser’s photograph of c.1912 alongside the scallop capital number 44 and another similar voussoir, now missing.

16. Label voussoirs (5 stones)

All 5 stones are now part of the arched feature on the Middle Terrace, details and a general view of which are given here.

Stone 28

Billet label voussoir, MT stone 2.

A chamfered label voussoir carved with two rows of billet on the chamfer. The best-preserved voussoir of this type.

Width of block                0.37m

Height of block               0.14m

Stone 29

Billet label voussoir, MT stone 3.

At the apex of the label of the middle terrace feature. The design is the same as stone 28, but it is very badly worn.

Width of block                0.43m

Height of block         0.15m

Stone 30

Billet label voussoir, MT stone 5.

At the extreme right end of the label of the middle terrace feature. The design is the same as stone 28, but it is worn with several billets chipped off.

Width of block                0.43m

Height of block               0.15m

Stone 31

Bobbin label voussoir, MT stone 1.

At the extreme left end of the label of the middle terrace feature. The voussoir is carved with a roll bearing widely-spaced bobbins, and towards the extrados a row of sawtooth.  The best-preserved of this type.

Width of block                0.43m

Height of block               0.135m

Stone 32

Bobbin label voussoir, MT stone 4 (see figure 21).

To the right of the apex of the label of the middle terrace feature. The design is the same as stone 30, but the stone is badly worn.

Width of block                0.33m

Height of block         0.155m

17. Moulded jamb stones (5 stones)

These would not normally be included in a CRSBI site entry, but for the sake of completeness they are described here.

Stone 33

Moulded jamb stone, LM stone 1.

The lowest stone of the left jamb of the lower moat wall feature. A jamb stone carved with two rolls, one fatter than the other, separated by a wedge.

Width of block                0.37m

Height of block               0.13m

Stone 34

Moulded jamb stone, LM stone 11.

The lowest stone of the right jamb of the lower moat wall feature. A jamb stone similar to stone 33, carved with two rolls, one fatter than the other, separated by a wedge.

Width of block                0.37m

Height of block               0.145m

Stone 35

Moulded jamb stone.

A stone now used as a bracket to support a shelf carrying further carved stones towards the east of the middle terrace. It has an angle roll and a face roll of similar diameter separated by a wedge, and is cut back at the top where there are remains of another face roll.

Height of corbel                           0.21m

Width of block                             0.13m

Max. projection from wall         0.22m

Stone 36

Moulded jamb stone 

A jamb stone reset in the South Bowe arch, alongside the top chevron voussoir, stone 22. Little can be seen of the stone which has a roll to the right, then a quirk and a hollow, and on the left a flat face receding into the wall surface.

Height of block                            0.20m

Width of flat face                         0.20m

Width of roll and hollow                                   0.20m

Stone 37

Moulded jamb stone 

A jamb stone reset in the South Bowe arch, immediately below the lower chevron voussoir, stone 23. The profile is the same as stone 36 as far as it can be seen. No measurements could be taken.

18. Impost blocks (4 stones)

Stone 38 is set into the Middle Terrace arched feature, stone 39 is loose in the flower bed at the foot of the lower moat wall, and 40 and 41 are in the Herbere pavilion.

Stone 38

Billet impost block. MT stone 6.

Set at the foot of the left side of the arch of the middle terrace feature.  A cuboidal impost carved with two rows of billet and above, a flat face with a row of sawtooth.  The installation of the only example of this type prevents close examination, but the impost appears to be carved on two faces only, and may thus be from a doorway.

Width of block                0.39m

Height of block               0.14m

Stone 39

Foliate impost block.

Loose in the flower bed at the foot of the lower moat wall. A very badly worn impost, apparently carved with a band of foliage ornament, perhaps a running scroll, on a quadrant below a flat face.  Carving is on two faces only, and the impost may thus be from a doorway.

Width of block                0.33m

Height of block               0.175m

Max. depth of block       0.29m

Stone 40

Impost block with fruit.

On the shelf in the Herbere pavilion; an impost bock of hollow-chamfered form with a row of plain beading on the face, and a continuous roll at the bottom of the chamfer, over which is carved a row of two fruit motifs in bold relief. Each has an aggregate fleshy fruit with multiple drupelets, like a raspberry, loosely enclosed in a pod or sheath with concentric layers of ridged foliage. The stone is a regular oolitic limestone, probably Caen.

Height of block:              0.16m

Max. width of block:      0.25m

Depth of block:         0.20m

Stone 41

Impost block with fruit.

On the shelf in the Herbere pavilion, another impost block identical to stone 39, but badly damaged. It has lost the beaded face entirely and is generally worn and chipped. What remains the deep hollow chamfer containing the roll over which are carved, in relief, two well-spaced motifs as those on stone 39, of a fruit surrounded by a sheath of ridged foliage. The sculpture is damaged with serious losses. The stone is a regular oolitic limestone, probably Caen.

Length of block:              0.31m

Depth of block:               0.19m

Height of block:              0.15m

19. Capitals (4 stones)

4 capitals in various locations around the garden as follows.

Stone 43

Volute capital, MT stone 12.

The capital is set at the foot of the right side of the arch of the middle terrace feature.  It is an attached capital, probably from a doorway, carved on the only visible face with a pair of spiral scrolls linked by a beaded strap.  More beaded strapwork is visible below the scrolls. No necking has survived, and the capital is seriously eroded.

Width of capital              0.295m

Height of capital             0.16m

Stone 44

Multi-scallop capital.

The capital is inverted on the shelf at the east end of the middle terrace. It is of  multi-scallop form with an integral quirked chamfered impost.  A photograph of c.1915 (see figure 24) suggests that the shields had a grooved border, and that it had a cable necking, which is now worn smooth. The capital has only a slight taper.  There are major losses to the necking and impost, and the entire surface of the capital is worn almost flat.  The capital has also been cut down at some stage. The stone is a shelly oolite.

Width of block                0.37m

Height of block               0.38m

Depth of block                0.38m

Stone 45

The capital is inverted and set in the left jamb of the arch of the Corinthian Fountain.  It is of multi-scallop form, thin and sharply raked with a heavy roll abacus. The scallops are plain and narrow and only visible on the right rear angle of the block. The capital is extremely worn and any necking it once had is lost.

Height of block               0.47m

Width of front face         0.79m

Depth of block                0.19m

Stone 46

The capital stands on a shelf in the Herbere pavilion. It is a nook-shaft capital of trefoil scallop form, carved on two faces with the shield surrounded by a beaded frame on its lower edge, and the necking a plain roll. It was originally carried on a cylindrical shaft. The stone is a fine, regular oolite, probably Caen stone.

Height including necking          0.20m

Width of left face                         0.28m

Width of right face                      0.27m

Diameter of necking                   0.23m

Diameter of shaft                         0.19m

20. Niche heads and blind oculus (4 stones)

Stone 47

Niche head with bosses. LM stone 12

A semicircular niche head or half-roundel carved with seven plain round bosses, now used as the tympanum of the feature against the lower moat wall. It is in fair condition, with a loss at the lower left edge.

Diameter                          0.43m

Height (radius)               0.22m

Thickness                         0.43m

Stone 48

Niche head with bosses.

Part of a semicircular niche head similar to 47 above, now on the shelf in the Herbere pavilion. The stone is complete at the R but broken off at the L, so that only 3 complete bosses, a half boss at the R and a broken boss at the L remain.

Width of block                0.41m

Height (radius)               0.18m

Thickness                         0.15m

Stone 49

Niche head with annulets. MT stone 13

Semicircular niche or window head or half-roundel, now used as the inner order of the middle terrace feature. It has an inner angle roll decorated with three radial annulets or bobbins

Diameter                          0.455m

Height (radius)               0.22m

Stone 50

Blind oculus segment, MT stone 10

On a shelf attached to the lower moat wall is a large block forming approximately 3/8 of a deep blind oculus or cavity. It would be oval in form if complete, and the cavity is bounded by an angle roll decorated at the cardinal points with a bobbin-like ornament.  The roll is outlined by a groove on the front face.  The stone is a shelly oolite.

Max. height of block      0.27m

Max. width of block       0.31m

Depth of block          0.31m

21. Corbels (2 stones)

Stone 51

Grotesque human head corbel.

A corbel on a shelf attached to the lower moat wall carved in full relief with a head, possibly human. The carving is badly worn, but the front face shows almond-shaped eyes, and a long central ridge for the nose which bifurcates at the bottom, suggesting a moustache.  The mouth is open and the tongue projects. The corbel is also carved on its lower face, but the wear is too advanced to allow identification of the forms intended. The stone is a very shelly limestone.

Width of front face         0.23m

Height of face                  0.18m

Depth of block                0.20m

Stone 52

Double head corbel.

Inside the Herbere pavilion are two carved stones mortared together, on top of the other. This is the upper stone: a corbel with a quadrant hollow containing a row of two similar composite human heads in full relief. Each head has almond-shaped bulging eyes with drilled pupils, surrounded by upper and lower lids, a straight nose and a moustache above a small open mouth with a wrinkled chin. The heads have catlike ears at the top. The stone is a shelly limestone, probably Taynton.

Height of block: 0.21m

Width of block: 0.31m

Depth of block: 0.24m

22. Geometrical reliefs (3 stones)

Stone 53

Chip-carved relief with saltires intersecting concentric rings.

This block is mortared to the lower face of the double head corbel, stone 52, in the Herbere pavilion. It is carved on the front face with a row of two chip-carved motifs, each consisting of two concentric rings intersected by a saltire. There is wear to the lower edge, and the lower part of the left roundel is lost. The stone is an oolitic limestone.

Height of block               0.17m

Width of front face         0.32m

Depth of block          0.18m

Stone 54

Chip-carved relief with beads in roundels.

On the shelf in the Herbere pavilion is a block carved in relief with part of a design of triple-reeded rings separated by arrisses. Each ring, when complete, would enclose a chip-carved vertical cross with a drilled bead in each quadrant. The stone here, apparently complete, has two rows of two half-circular units, and is assumed to be part of a diapered wall surface. The carved surface of the block is spalling away, and the stone is a fine-grained oolite, probably Caen stone.

Max. length of carved face         0.39m

Max. width of carved face          0.17m

Thickness of block                           0.22m

Stone 55

Chip-carved relief with beads in roundels.

A block similar to 54, built into the carronade wall. Measurements are taken from the drawing, which also includes a reconstruction of the diaper pattern.

Max. length of carved face: 0.376m

Max. width of carved face: 0.178m

23. Foliage relief

Stone 56

Foliage relief panel.

On the shelf in the Herbere pavilion is an approximately rectangular panel, carved in relief with part of a foliage scroll consisting of a loop of triple-reeded stem enclosing a trefoil flower. The stem has triple-reeded clasps at left and right, and there is a furled leaf at the angle. One edge of the block has a projecting chamfered border, another is straight, marking the edge of a section of scrollwork, the other two are broken off. The stone is a shelly limestone, probably Taynton.

Height of block               0.29m

Max. width of block       0.30m

24. Figure sculpture

Stone 57

Draped figure section. Herbere pavilion. 

On the shelf in the Herbere pavilion is a block carved with a section of a human figure in full relief, including a draped right arm with a hand emerging from the sleeve and grasping either fabric or an object. Damage prevents a more precise identification.  The stone is a fine oolite, probably Caen stone.

Height of block               0.21m

Max. width of block       0.37m

Max. depth of block       0.30m

25. Questionable identifications: Relief panels with basketweave interlace

The retaining wall above the Moat Garden greenhouses incorporates several rectangular blocks with slender angle rolls on their vertical short edges and no mouldings on their horizontal long edges. They appear to be carved with a regular basketweave interlace design that has been rubbed away to a greater or lesser extent.  An alternative explanation is that they are the remains of post-medieval pecking, commonly seen elsewhere at Windsor as a form of rustication, but this seems improbable as the design is very regular and continues to the upper and lower edges of the block, but not to the sides.

Stone 58

Width of face                   0.32m

Height of face                  0.19m

Stone 59

Width of face                   0.32m

Height of face                  0.14m

Stone 60

There is little evidence of the interlace, but the edge rolls are very clear.

Width of face                   0.31m

Height of face                  0.15m

Stone 61

The interlace survives only in a few places.

Width of face                   0.32m

Height of face                  0.14m

Comments/Opinions

The earliest reference to loose Romanesque sculpture at Windsor is found in the essay by Ambrose Poynter that is included in  Wyatville’s Illustrations of Windsor Castle, published in 1841.  At the end of his discussion of the Norman work at the castle, Poynter remarked that,

"a few architectural fragments in the Norman style,  brought to light from the excavations during the progress of the late improvements,  are perhaps the only relics of the palatial edifice of the Twelfth Century" (Wyatville (1841), 2).

He usefully included a small vignette, illustrating a group of the excavated stones (figure 23). The engraving shows five stones, from left to right:

1. A section of a three-order blind niche with a chamfered inner order, a plain roll outside it, and an outer order of sawtooth.

2. A voussoir carved on both face and soffit with the fret ornament.

3. An elaborate double-scallop capital with the shields decorated with reeded cusping and leaves. This has a hollow chamfered impost on the top and stands on a section of shaft.

4. A double composite human/ animal head corbel.

5. A section of a draped figure.

Of these, numbers 4 and 5 are certainly identifiable with stones 52 and 57, both now in the Herbere pavilion, while the fret ornament on number 2 is comparable with that on stone 27, now on a shelf at the east end of the middle terrace. This stone is now very badly worn, but it is illustrated in a photograph of c.1915, when it was in a much better state of preservation (figure 24).  To the group illustrated by Poynter can be added the diapered stone re-used as masonry in the carronade wall, which must have been incorporated as part of Wyatville’s restoration, and was presumably unearthed with the rest (stone 55). This has the same design as stone 54 in the Herbere pavilion. 

Although Poynter described these carvings as sculpture originating at the castle, another explanation for their presence here has been proposed, and is perhaps more commonly accepted. This is that the stones came from Reading Abbey, a major Benedictine house founded by King Henry I in 1121 as his mausoleum and demolished after the Dissolution (Baxter (2016), Kemp (1986), I, 13-19; Thurlby and Baxter (2002), 282-301; Baxter and Harrison (2002), 302-12, Hurry (1901). This was suggested in 1913 by Sir William St John  Hope, who observed in his architectural history of the castle that,

"it is advisable here to add a word of warning concerning the fragments of Norman carved work that are from time to time dug up in the Castle or extracted from later work.  Some of these doubtless belong to Windsor, but a large quantity of material was brought here from Reading abbey after its suppression and destruction. Much of this work was also Norman, and it is therefore difficult to assign to such fragments their proper birthplace" (Hope (1913), I, 22). 

When Charles Keyser, the eminent Berkshire antiquarian, saw the Windsor stones at around the same time, they were ranged on shelves attached to the curtain wall of the Round Tower, and a tablet has been inserted recording the fact that they were originally part of the monastery of Reading founded by King Henry I in 1120 (Keyser (1916), 241). 

Keyser published eight photographs of the Windsor Castle stones, and while he clearly did not photograph everything that he saw, his images are still valuable for establishing the date of the present arrangement of the stones in the Moat Garden, and for estimating losses that have taken place since 1916. From these the following conclusions can be drawn:

1. That the arched feature inside the lower moat wall was already in place then, but the uppermost of the two post-medieval stones had not yet been inserted (and furthermore that stone 8 must have been cut back to accommodate it). A label voussoir was placed above the keystone of this feature in Keyser’s photograph, but this is no longer in place and has not been discovered anywhere else in the garden (see figure 25).

2. The shelf at the east end of the middle terrace was far less overgrown in 1916, and two stones of fret voussoir type 2 were then clearly displayed side by side. Two other chevron voussoirs were then on the shelf, alongside the multi-scallop capital number 44, which is still there (see figure 24).

3. The stones in the Herbere pavilion were apparently already there in 1916. Keyser illustrated 11 stones in a row on a shelf, all of which and no others are still in the garden house today.  What is missing is the tablet identifying the carvings as Reading Abbey stones, that is also shown on the shelf in Keyser’s photograph (see figure 26). In view of the chronology of the garden it seems certain that this was also added by Sir Dighton Probyn.

4. Keyser’s set of photographs suggests that the arched feature on the middle terrace had not been erected when he visited. Not only does he fail to illustrate it, but items now incorporated in it appear as loose stones among his plates, notably the two bobbin and sawtooth label voussoirs (stones 31-32, see figure 27, lower shelf).

5. Important stones illustrated by Keyser have not been discovered in the present survey. The most significant are two capitals: a second trefoil capital, similar to stone 46 but with its integral impost intact; and a double scallop capital with beading around the lower edges of the shields and furled leaves between the cones (figure 27).

It has been suggested that works and repairs undertaken by the Ministry of Works in the 1920s may have been responsible for some of these losses, and there does seem to have been a good deal of upheaval in the relevant parts of the Moat Garden at that time. In 1923-24 paths and terraces in the Moat Garden were extended and repaired; the work involving the removal of undergrowth below terrace level on the side of the motte, the removal of some modern steps, reforming the slope where necessary, repairs to the brick revetment, and the construction of ‘one or two lengths’ of retaining wall. Further repairs to the walls and path surfaces, including the reconstruction of a cracked and bulging wall had been carried out by early 1928 following a report of ‘symptoms of earth slipping’ made by Sir Lionel Earle of the Ministry of Works in April 1927 (National Archive WORK 19/738). 

The evidence for Reading rather than Windsor as the source of these carved stones is strong but by no means conclusive.  In 1557 Queen Mary was responsible for the reconstruction of the Poor Knights' Lodging in the Lower Ward, and the record of payments for this work indicates that the stones were brought to Windsor from Reading Abbey, which was being taken down at that time (Tighe and Davies (1858), I, 166).The accounts are reasonably full, and list payments to masons choosing the stones they wanted; taking down the stones of the doors and windows of the Lady Chapel of the abbey and digging out stones from the walls; and to labourers who dug Caen stone out of the windows for the battlements of the new lodgings at Windsor.  This is the only surviving record of stones being taken to Windsor from Reading, and it is assumed that the stones now in the Moat Garden came at that time. Keyser, for example, asserted that,

"as early as the year 1557, when some repairs were needed at Windsor Castle, some barge-loads of stones were collected and removed, as being easily accessible, and suitable for the contemplated restoration. These are now arranged in groups in the curtain-wall and elsewhere at the foot of the Round Tower, and by the courtesy of the authorities and the kind assistance of Mr. Robertson, the assistant architect, I have been permitted to photograph them" (Keyser (1916), 237).

 

This account of the transfer of the stones from Reading does not really stand up to close scrutiny.   The Lady Chapel of Reading Abbey was built by Abbot Whaplode around 1314, and would only contain Romanesque stones if they had been re-used in its construction.  Even if so, it would seem unlikely that such a large number of carved stones had been recycled at Reading, and that the masons paid for choosing which stones to take would have come away with so much stone that could be of little use to them in rebuilding the Poor Knights’ Lodgings.  Further, the accounts specify Caen stone, and while some of the Romanesque material in the Moat Garden is Caen, a good deal of it is not.  If the stones came from Reading they must have been imported for antiquarian or aesthetic reasons; perhaps unlikely at such an early date.

Nevertheless, some of the Windsor stones are so close in design to known Reading Abbey stones as to make the possibility of a connection difficult to rule out entirely.  The trefoil scallop capital, stone 46, has the horseshoe-shaped lower shield lobes and beaded border typical of many Reading Abbey cloister capitals, e.g. Reading Museum 1992-107 (figure 28). Stone 46 has lost its impost, but the similar example illustrated by Keyser clearly has the integral impost typical of Reading Abbey and uncommon elsewhere (figure 27). The type of niche head enriched with large, plain bosses seen in two examples at Windsor (stones 47 and 48), is also found in a Reading Museum stone excavated by George Zarnecki, the former Deputy Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, at Borough Marsh in 1948, and thus certainly from the abbey (figure 29).  The measurements of all three stones are comparable. Finally, the chip-carved diaper relief, stone 53, is a close match for a stone found among the Reading Abbey ruins and built into the exterior wall of Pugin’s Roman Catholic church of St James, Reading in 1840 (figure 30). 

All these comparisons, of course, are with Henry I’s work at Reading (1121-30), but the king had been engaged at building work at Windsor, too, around this time. According to Henry of Huntingdon, he spent Whitsun of 1110 at New Windsor, ‘which he had built himself’ (Greenway (1996), 52).  Despite the difference in dates between the campaigns at Windsor and Reading, it is fair to assume that the king used the same sculptural workshop for both, so that a similarity with Reading work does not necessarily mean that the stones came from the abbey.  There are some twelfth-century stones in this collection, however, that cannot possibly date from the reign of Henry I, and while Reading Abbey church was not dedicated until 1164, there is no evidence either in the documentary record or among the known remains of the abbey of sculptural work dating from the later twelfth century.  This is not true of Windsor, where Henry II spent considerable sums on building work between 1161-62 and 1173-74 (Tighe and Davis (1858), I, 31-32; VCH Berkshire (1923), 29-32).  The kind of soft drapery seen on stone 57 is typical of the 1170s and ‘80s and later, most famously in the Canterbury screen fragments or the figures from St Mary’s Abbey, York, now in the Yorkshire Museum, but interestingly too at another royal site, Dunstable Priory (Beds), on the W and N doorways of c.1170, where arch voussoirs carved with fret on both face and soffit, as on stone 27, can also be seen. Other stones from this period include the chevron voussoirs in the South Bowe (stones 22 and 23), and the two impost blocked carved with fruit (stones 40 and 41). 

There was certainly a tradition that the Romanesque stones at Windsor were brought from Reading, but it is impossible to trace it back any further than Sir Dighton Probyn at the very beginning of the twentieth century. Certainly Ambrose Poynter, writing sixty years earlier, considered them to be Windsor work.  The few stones that closely resemble Reading sculpture date from Henry I’s reign, and seem on balance as likely to originate from the castle as the abbey. The later twelfth-century carvings must surely be from the castle, and provide evidence for sculptural work of the highest quality in the reign of Henry II.

Bibliography

  • R. Baxter and S. Harrison, ‘The Decoration of the Cloister at Reading Abbey’, L. Keen and E. Scarff (ed.), Windsor: Medieval Archaeology, Art and Architecture of the Thames Valley (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 25), Windsor 2002, 302-12.

  • R. Baxter, The Royal Abbey of Reading, Woodbridge  2016, 217-21.

  • D. Greenway (trans.), Henry of Huntingdon. The History of the English People, Oxford 1996, 2nd. ed. 2002.

  • W. H. St J. Hope, Windsor Castle: an architectural history, 3 vols, London 1913.

  • J. B. Hurry, Reading Abbey. London 1901.

  • C. E. Keyser, ‘Norman capitals from Sonning, Berks., and sculptured stones at Shiplake and Windsor Castle, probably brought from Reading abbey’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London 2nd series 28 (1915-16), 234-45.

  • J. Roberts, Royal Landscape. The Gardens and Parks of Windsor, Princeton and London 1997.

  • G. C. Taylor, ‘The Norman Tower Windsor Castle. The Residence of Lord Wigram’, Country Life September 28 1935, 324-30.

  • M. Thurlby and R. Baxter, “The Romanesque Abbey Church at Reading”, L. Keen and E. Scarff (ed.), Windsor: Medieval Archaeology, Art and Architecture of the Thames Valley (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 25), 282-301.

  • R. R. Tighe and J. E. Davies, Annals of Windsor, being a History of the Castle and Town with Some Account of Eton and Places Adjacent, 2 vols, London 1858.

  • G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire.  New Haven and London 2010, 616-75, esp. 629.

  • The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Berkshire, III, London 1923, 5-56.

  • J. Wyatville, Illustrations of Windsor Castle (to which is prefixed An Essay on the History and Antiquities of Windsor Castle by A. Poynter), ed. H. Ashton, London 1841.

Location

Site Location
Windsor Castle
National Grid Reference
SU 971 770 
Boundaries
now: Windsor and Maidenhead
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Berkshire
Diocese
now: Oxford
medieval: Salisbury
Dedication
now:
medieval:
Type of building/monument
Castle  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
10 August 1998, 11 December 2012, 21 January 2015