Piety and Chivalry: St George's Chapel Windsor

Nigel Saul looks at a building which embodied much of England’s religious and political life in the later Middle Ages, and which staged the blessing of the Prince of Wales’s marriage on April 9th 2005.

From the west and north, the views of Windsor are dominated by the unmistakable silhouette of the great castle. The jagged outline of towers and battlements rises slowly but forcefully up the chalk bluff overlooking the Thames. Occupying a dominant position in the centre is the Round Tower, the castle’s shell keep, which was raised in height in the nineteenth century. Higher up, commanding the best views over the surrounding country, are the state apartments of the Upper Ward. Nearer to the town and further down is the Lower Ward, the preserve of the dean and canons of Windsor. In this part of the castle the silhouette is dominated by the long, horizontal, whaleback skyline of St George’s Chapel. This is a chapel as big as a cathedral. In the vast fortress that is Windsor nothing is done by halves. In Europe’s largest royal castle we have Europe’s largest royal chapel.

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