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Windsor Castle
Castle Treasures

In the State Apartments, there are many articles of interest, on account of antiquity or associations. The Malachite Vase in the Ball Room is the best of its kind in England, the French tapestry is said to be unequalled, the Sevres porcelain is exquisitely delicate and beautiful. Many picture-frames, especially in the ante-room, are to be found the work of Grinling Gibbons. Portraits by VanDyke in his best style abound, and there is a splendid series of portraits by Holbein. In the Guard Chamber, there is a shield presented by Francis I to Henry VIII on the field of the Cloth of Gold, the work of Benvenuto Cellini.

The Library at Windsor is remarkably large and good, William IV having gathered here the various collections at Kew, Hampton Court and Kensington, and having brought to light many antiquarian treasures. Amongst these are the three volumes of the collection of drawings of Leonardo De Vinci, brought to England from Holland by Sir Peter Lely, and bought by Charles II; and the series of eighty-seven studies, in red chalk and Indian ink, of the principal personages of Henry VIII's Court by Hans Holbein. 

The illuminated manuscripts, both European and Oriental, are of much historical interest and amongst them may be mentioned the "Mentz Psalter," of 1457, a copy of Coverdale's Bible of 1535 and the only perfect copy now in existence of Caxton's Aesop's Fables of 1484.

In the strong room are many gorgeous treasures of plate and jewels, and a set of golden dinner plates sufficient for a hundred guests, a wine-fountain taken from the Spanish Armada, Tippoo's jewelled peacock and solid gold footstool, in the shape of a tiger's head, and many other curiosities too numerous for mention. Some of the state apartments, especially the library, contain fine mantelpieces and panelling of great age, some going as far back as the sixteenth century.

Part 10: The Great Park

Edited from PH Ditchfield's "Bygone Berkshire" (1896)

  
 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.