Windsor Castle The Queen's Palaces


Windsor Castle

Documentary series taking a look at the Queen's three official residences. Fiona Bruce visits Windsor Castle, the world's oldest and largest inhabited castle.


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Transcript


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Windsor Castle is the ultimate monument to English tradition.

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But it's also more than that.

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It's a building that at different times in our history has stood

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as a symbol of momentous change.

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Windsor is the oldest, and the largest

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inhabited castle in the world.

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It's been home to the country's monarchs for almost 1,000 years.

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And it certainly looks every inch an ancient medieval fortress.

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But the fascinating thing with this castle

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is that not everything about it is as it seems.

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From the outside, the heavy stone battlements and looming towers

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make it a forbidding spectacle.

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Yet what makes it so special is how a castle was transformed into a palace.

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Because Windsor is the creation of different monarchs, each with their own style and ambition.

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The elegant rooms, the works of art, the grand

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and the intimate,

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the strange and the exotic.

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During its long life, Windsor has been many things -

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a home to medieval chivalry and romance,

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a baroque palace to restore royal fortunes after a king lost his head,

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and an architectural fantasy.

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The state apartments at the heart of Windsor seem a world apart

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from the stern castle walls that enclose them.

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So many objects within these rooms

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have stories to tell of the nation's history, through all its shifting fortunes.

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Of all the treasures of Windsor Castle, perhaps this extraordinary painting speaks

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most powerfully of the glory, and in some cases the tragedy

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of the monarchs who passed through here.

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This unusual triple-headed study is of Charles I

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at the height of his powers.

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And the artist, Van Dyck,

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was asked to paint it this way as a study for a later sculpture.

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But it's a masterpiece in its own right.

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I mean, look at the quality of the fabrics, for example.

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And then how he's captured the character

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of King Charles and his air of melancholy.

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And, in fact, when you look at it, you can't help but remember

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that this is a king who soon lost his head,

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at a dark and uncertain time for the nation.

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Windsor Castle is full of gems like this - objects that are not only

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beautiful in themselves, but are also clues

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to the lives of the kings and queens who, in their different ways,

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have helped shape this unique building.

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The castle's story begins with William the Conqueror.

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Around 1070, just a few years after he'd invaded England,

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William chose to build a fortress at Windsor, at the top of a steep chalk cliff.

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He chose this location for a good reason.

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This is easily the highest spot for miles around.

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You'd have seen the enemy coming from a long way off.

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And strategically it was important too, commanding the main route west out of London.

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In its early years, the castle was a military machine,

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designed to maintain tight control of the land around it.

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The original appearance of that ancient castle is now almost hidden by later changes...

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..but if you know where to look, you can still find evidence of its war-like origins.

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Now, this is an office just tucked away in a corner of Windsor Castle.

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But look under here.

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As if by magic,

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just lift these,

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and the medieval castle emerges.

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Because if you were a soldier

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in Windsor under siege, you'd need a way to get out.

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And this is the secret passage.

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This is exactly what it looked like

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in the 1200s. You can see it's wide enough to accommodate

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a whole army of men, you can imagine them rushing down the stairs,

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and it leads out on to the street.

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And this is the clever bit - they'd then be able to sneak up

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on the enemy and attack them from behind.

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For nearly three centuries,

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the castle remained more of a fortress than a royal home.

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But one king's dream of a more heroic England

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was to change that completely.

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Edward III came to the throne in 1327

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Windsor castle is Edward III's birthplace

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and he is associated with Windsor Castle from the day of his birth.

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That's not just because it's where he came from,

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it's also because he is prophesied

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to be the great king that comes out of Windsor, who will conquer France,

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the saviour of England and who will achieve great things.

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So his fortunes are bound up with Windsor Castle from day one.

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The Windsor prophecy would soon become a reality,

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as Edward led England to victory against the French.

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But perhaps Edward's greatest achievement was at Windsor Castle itself.

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Edward III had a new vision for the castle.

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He would transform Windsor into the home of English chivalry - a new Camelot.

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This would be an age of courtly love, when knights sought honour

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both in battle, and in romance.

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Edward created a new order of knights - the Order of the Garter.

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His dream was to recreate the glories of the Round Table and the Court of King Arthur.

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The first tournament of the Order of the Garter is held on St George's Day, 1349.

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That is at the very height of the Black Death,

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when 40% of the country is dying around him.

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Even in the face of this terrible calamity that had come to England,

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it's a demonstration

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that it's royalty as usual, it's business as usual,

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it's Edward being a king as usual.

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So the Order of the Garter is a powerful symbol.

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For centuries to come, Windsor would remain home to Edward's illustrious order of knights.

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And his vision would culminate in one of the finest of all medieval buildings -

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the spectacular St George's Chapel, spiritual home of the Order of the Garter.

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There are some wonderful details on the building, like the animals

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known as the King's Beasts that perch along the top.

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There are 76 of these heraldic creatures in all -

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such as the bull for bravery,

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the griffin for vigilance, the unicorn for strength,

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the swan for grace and perfection.

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But what makes St George's Chapel so special is the soaring windows.

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Gothic architecture was all about height and light.

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And the sheer quantity of stained glass held up by delicate stone tracery

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makes the interior feel vast and almost supernaturally lit.

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Once inside, rows of carved stone angels

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draw the eye up to one of the last great flowerings of English gothic -

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this magnificent fan vault ceiling,

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studded with badges of the Knights of the Garter.

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The legacy of the Garter has endured.

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It is now the oldest surviving order of chivalry in the world.

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But by the 1500s, the medieval world of Edward III

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was well and truly over.

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England would enjoy a time of relative peace and plenty.

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So castles everywhere were falling out of favour.

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English kings and queens began to value comfort over battlements.

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But the castles of England, and Windsor among them,

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were to have one last day in the firing line.

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By the 1640s, the country was in the grip of a bitter civil war.

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Castles were once more being used to fight bloody battles.

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The King himself, Charles I, was captured and imprisoned here,

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in his own royal castle.

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A month later, he was executed.

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After a public beheading in Whitehall, Charles's body was buried at Windsor.

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Monarchy was abolished, and Oliver Cromwell was in charge.

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Cromwell's men set about flogging off all the King's assets.

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Now, Charles I was the first great royal art collector, and there was

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a monumental quantity of paintings and precious objects to be disposed of.

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Windsor Castle itself was very nearly sold off,

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but parliament voted by the narrowest of margins to keep it.

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It was a low point for the castle,

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and yet it paved the way for a glittering transformation.

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Within the walls of the castle, the son of Charles I, Charles II,

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created a sumptuous palace, to revive once more the glories of royalty.

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It was a bold move after the anti-monarchist years

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of Cromwell's republic, when it had seemed impossible

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a king would ever again sit on the English throne.

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If Charles II was going to avoid losing his head like his father,

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he needed to re-establish a clear sense of royal authority.

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And Windsor Castle was key to his plan.

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Right from the start of his reign in 1660,

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Charles wanted to reconnect with the royal past.

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But he set about it with a flamboyance never before seen in England.

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This is the King's dining room, and appropriately enough, the theme is food.

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Just look at this amazing ceiling

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painted by the celebrated Antonio Verrio.

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And it certainly lives up to its title, The Banquet Of The Gods.

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Charles chose to create his palace in the latest style sweeping through Europe - baroque.

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Its grandeur and ambition proclaimed the restoration of the monarchy.

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I think the Baroque style

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fitted very well with Charles II's sense of what monarchy looked like,

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it was big, bold, it smacked you on the chops.

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It's not a restrained style, it's kind of exuberant, it's colourful,

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and it's full of human beings.

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It's kind of fleshy, if you like.

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It really was like a fabulous stage set.

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For the walls, Charles employed the master carver, Grinling Gibbons,

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to create some of the plumpest, most luscious fruit, flowers and animals

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you'll ever see in wood.

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Charles II spared no expense in reflecting the glory of his rule.

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And certainly, anyone walking in here would know immediately that

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the austerity of the Cromwell years was over, and a new era had dawned.

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And where Charles's father had been seen as cold and distant,

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Charles knew he needed to be more approachable -

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albeit in a suitably regal way.

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So he created a new architecture for a new court.

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This sequence of rooms gives us a good idea of how the system worked.

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You started off in the larger, more public rooms,

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and then depending on your importance and status,

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you'd be allowed to penetrate further and further

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into the private rooms, and therefore closer to the King.

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And you'd know you'd made it if you got this far.

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This is the King's bedchamber.

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He didn't actually sleep here -

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that was in a private, smaller room elsewhere.

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But this is where he would perform a ritualised getting-out-of-bed

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called a levee, which is an idea he brought over from France.

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And he would actually get out of bed in his underclothes,

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the pages of the body would dress him, and those

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lucky enough to be invited in to watch could take the opportunity

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to have an informal word with the King.

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A bit of networking, if you like.

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Charles II had a PR job on his hands to reinforce that message

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that monarchy is the most glorious thing,

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to which everybody must instinctively owe their loyalty.

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But he does it in a way that makes people feel warm towards him,

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because what he does is push back the boundary of where the sort of closed door is, so that people are

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able to come into his inner rooms

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and see him doing a lot of domestic things that no-one would have...

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Only a really small number of people would have seen Charles I doing.

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Within two years of Charles's restoration as king, he married.

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The new queen arrived in England in April 1662.

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This spectacular scene on the ceiling is of Charles's Portuguese wife,

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Catherine of Braganza.

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She's being transported up on the clouds of heaven,

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and winged zephyrs are supporting her billowing canopy.

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But in reality, Catherine had a lot to put up with.

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She often felt upstaged by Charles's string of mistresses,

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most notably the luscious Nell Gwyn.

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Charles's wife had an almost impossible position, really.

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He was fond of her, and when she arrived at Court he said,

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"I want to be the best husband I could possibly be" to her,

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his intentions were good.

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But the kind of, you know, the attractions of the beauties

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of his Court proved too much of an eye-catch for him.

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So he doesn't remain faithful to her.

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But the thing that was the real killer for her was that she wasn't able to have children,

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and as a Queen, this is your primary role, is to provide an heir.

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And she was obviously haunted by it.

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In the end, Charles stuck by his wife -

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but he was always seen as the king who loved pleasure,

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whether it was women or art.

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And to furnish his magnificent new palace at Windsor,

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he resolved to restore the fortunes of the royal art collection.

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Most of it had been sold off by Cromwell to repay debts.

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Now Charles began to hunt it down and reclaim it.

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Some of it was easy - from Cromwell's widow alone, he managed to retrieve 17 cartloads

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of paintings and sculptures

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and other precious objects. And this room is a kind of memorial

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to just a tiny selection

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of Charles I's paintings, here by great Italian Renaissance masters.

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There's one in particular that caught my eye.

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This is thought to be by Titian.

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On first appraisal, it looks like the artistic equivalent

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of a top-shelf magazine.

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But no-one's quite sure what's happening in this painting.

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Has the young woman fainted, and the man is actually feeling her heartbeat,

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or is she a faithless wife, he is her lover and that's her cuckolded husband behind her?

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There's a lot of mystery surrounding this painting.

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But one thing's for sure, it's rather saucy.

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Charles was both sensuous and serious in his love of the arts.

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And nothing has a more important place in the collection that Charles assembled

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than the drawings of the Renaissance artist and anatomist Leonardo da Vinci.

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Now, tell me about this book.

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This album, which is now empty, was the album in which 600 drawings

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by Leonardo came to England in the 17th century, into the collection in the reign of Charles II.

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So the largest quantity of Leonardo drawings of flowers, of plants...

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And his studies for paintings,

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The Last Supper, Madonna and Child with St Anne, all in here.

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And so then they were cut out, were they?

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Well, they were removed, shall we say, in Queen Victoria's reign for individual mounting,

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so they could be exhibited, and to prevent them rubbing against each other on the pages.

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-And then this was originally in this book?

-Yes.

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He's got this absolutely perfect,

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it's very tender, this little drawing, isn't it?

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It's a beautiful thing, little curled up figure with red chalk,

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feeling like flesh and blood. Very moving.

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-Incredible. And what about this, this is his famous mirror writing?

-It's his backwards writing.

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-Yes, because he was left handed, he wrote throughout his life in mirror writing.

-And why did he do that?

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We don't really know. It must have been simpler for him, as a left hander, without smudging the ink.

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And so all his writing here, what's he doing here, he's making notes about...?

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He would use these sheets as little mementoes and he would remind himself

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of whatever it was he was studying at any one time.

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Now we've got both sides of the page here.

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Look at that.

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Now what are we seeing here, is that a liver?

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Yes, it's a study of the internal organs of the foetus.

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Leonardo clearly dissected pre-term children.

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Yuk! Were they allowed to do that?

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Yes, he was doing it in monastery hospitals in full knowledge of the church.

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In a Catholic country? How surprising.

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As long as it was done respectfully there was direct papal sanction to conduct this sort of work.

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When Charles II acquired these, would he have felt that they added to his stature as a monarch

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interested in the arts and in sciences?

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He clearly had an interest in the arts and the sciences, he founded the Royal Society.

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I think they would have been regarded

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primarily as a curiosity in many ways, rather than

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understood in the way we do today.

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-So they wouldn't have been regarded as works of art?

-Yes, both works of art and scientific studies.

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Leonardo had a reputation at the time as a bizarre genius in some ways, and it was very obvious that he was

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taking the subject far beyond what anybody else at the time was doing.

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These drawings are unique, they are probably the jewel of the entire collection.

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By the time building work was completed on Charles's palace,

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he had only one year left to enjoy it.

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He died in 1685.

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For the next 100 years, Windsor went into decline,

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as successive monarchs chose to spend their time elsewhere.

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A series of watercolours by the artist Paul Sandby show that

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by the 1770s, parts of the castle had become almost a public thoroughfare.

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So what have we got here?

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This is a rather wonderful cross-section

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-of English life in the 1770s.

-What's this chap doing?

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-This is a knife grinder, sparks coming off, and tiny boy for going up chimneys.

-Black from head to foot.

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Black from head to foot, exactly, contrasting with these posh girls.

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This is the water carrier, this lady beating her mules, and behind is water.

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So was it just that anybody could kind of... Once the monarchs had started to live elsewhere,

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it just became open season at Windsor?

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People could just come in the gates and wander round as if it were a town?

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Up to a point, it was still a military garrison,

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and so you see in these views, you see soldiers around the place.

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And in one of them, you can see a lady in a red cloak.

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And one of the surviving printed instructions that we have says specifically

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-that ladies in red cloaks are not allowed into the quadrangle, the upper area.

-Why?

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Cos that was considered a bit racy?

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Well, they were presumably people of ill repute.

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This sad lady has got a crutch and a basket and a red cloak.

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I think she's perhaps even lost her leg.

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She has, yes, I don't think she looks racy, but...

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-Indeed.

-And what about this, what have we got here?

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Here it looks very run down, there's a door

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hanging off its hinges, so it's in a real state of disrepair.

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It looks like weeds are growing out of the top here.

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Yeah. And here you have a soldier chatting up a pretty girl here.

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While this chat-up is going on,

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this old crow is looking out of the window saying, "You stop that!"

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Meanwhile, there's a punch-up going on behind this gate which is about to fall off.

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Fisticuffs! Fantastic.

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So it gives the impression of a slightly run-down extension of the town.

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Yes, indeed.

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And certainly not a royal castle.

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By now, the castle was little more than a public thoroughfare.

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Then, in 1776, George III decided to move the royal household back to Windsor.

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Though to begin with, they didn't actually live in the castle.

0:28:200:28:25

Unlike his ancestor Charles II, George III was a much more sober, serious-minded kind of chap

0:28:320:28:40

with simple taste and a love of the countryside.

0:28:400:28:43

His nickname was Farmer George.

0:28:430:28:45

And rather than move into this rambling old castle,

0:28:450:28:48

he and his family chose to live in a much more modest building

0:28:480:28:51

that once stood on this very spot - the Queen's Lodge.

0:28:510:28:54

You can just imagine them gazing out their window

0:28:540:28:57

at what was a dilapidated old castle -

0:28:570:29:00

a bit like having an oversized romantic ruin

0:29:000:29:03

at the bottom of your garden.

0:29:030:29:05

Unlike George I and II - both born and raised in Germany -

0:29:090:29:14

George III was eager to prove he was an English king through and through.

0:29:140:29:19

He would restore Windsor Castle as a royal home.

0:29:190:29:23

Repairs began in 1781.

0:29:230:29:25

George and his family gradually moved into the castle

0:29:320:29:36

that was always rather short on home comforts.

0:29:360:29:39

There were no carpets for example -

0:29:390:29:40

the King thought they were unhygienic.

0:29:400:29:42

And it was always freezing.

0:29:420:29:44

Queen Charlotte complained bitterly that, "This is the coldest house

0:29:440:29:48

"that ever existed, and all idea of comfort is vanished with it."

0:29:480:29:52

George III is often remembered as the King who went mad.

0:30:080:30:12

It's now thought he suffered from porphyria,

0:30:120:30:15

a chemical imbalance of the brain that caused bouts of insanity.

0:30:150:30:19

In fact, when he was well,

0:30:190:30:20

George was an intelligent, if eccentric, man who appreciated the arts.

0:30:200:30:25

In 1789, when George III was 50

0:30:290:30:32

and had recovered from his first serious bout of madness,

0:30:320:30:36

this glorious china service was commissioned to celebrate his return to health.

0:30:360:30:40

It's of the finest French Sevres porcelain, and it's a tea and coffee service.

0:30:400:30:45

And you can see the plates here, each one with a cursive G for George...

0:30:450:30:50

the coffee cups...

0:30:500:30:53

..the tea cup...

0:30:540:30:56

and the rather charming slops bowl, as it was known,

0:30:560:30:59

where you could put the detritus from your plates.

0:30:590:31:02

And each piece has a celebration of the King, if you like.

0:31:020:31:06

So here, "Huzza the King is well!"

0:31:060:31:09

Then we have...

0:31:090:31:11

"The Patron of Arts", because George III founded the Royal Academy.

0:31:110:31:16

Then my particular favourite,

0:31:160:31:18

"The Best of Fraters".

0:31:180:31:22

That's supposed to be "The Best of Fathers", but it is French,

0:31:220:31:25

so I suppose we can allow them the odd spelling mistake.

0:31:250:31:28

When the King's reason finally deserted him for good,

0:31:450:31:49

Windsor Castle became his prison.

0:31:490:31:52

He was kept under lock and key for the sake of his own safety...

0:31:520:31:56

and the safety of others.

0:31:560:31:59

This remarkable and rather heartbreaking little portrait

0:32:040:32:08

of George III is of him in the last few months of his life.

0:32:080:32:12

And you won't see another royal portrait like this,

0:32:120:32:15

because they are always designed to project status, power and wealth.

0:32:150:32:21

And here, look, he's just a frail old man.

0:32:210:32:25

And by this time, he was hopelessly mad, completely deaf,

0:32:250:32:30

and he's staring into a middle distance he can't actually see,

0:32:300:32:33

because he was completely blind as well.

0:32:330:32:36

Soon after this was painted, the King was dead.

0:32:450:32:49

Now the crown passed to a very different character...

0:32:510:32:55

his son, who would completely reinvent Windsor Castle.

0:32:550:32:59

George IV has gone down in history

0:33:030:33:06

as one of the most unpopular monarchs of all time -

0:33:060:33:09

bloated, self-indulgent, ludicrously extravagant.

0:33:090:33:13

But he had an eye for great art, and a real creative vision.

0:33:130:33:19

And though it made him unpopular at the time,

0:33:190:33:21

we're reaping the benefits now.

0:33:210:33:23

Because the Windsor Castle we see today,

0:33:230:33:25

with its romantic skyline of turrets and battlements,

0:33:250:33:29

is essentially George's creation.

0:33:290:33:32

In 1824, George IV commissioned Windsor's most ambitious scheme yet,

0:33:400:33:46

to transform the castle's hotchpotch of styles

0:33:460:33:49

into a single gothic invention.

0:33:490:33:52

Where there were plain walls, he spiced them up with parapets...

0:33:580:34:02

arrow loops...

0:34:020:34:03

gargoyles...

0:34:030:34:05

..and pointed gothic arches.

0:34:060:34:08

For George, the central Round Tower wasn't dramatic enough,

0:34:100:34:13

so he added an extra 30 feet in height!

0:34:130:34:16

His was a romantic idea of how a medieval castle should look.

0:34:180:34:22

I think George IV is creating a fantasy castle, if you like.

0:34:250:34:28

It's all about recapturing the past

0:34:280:34:31

and identifying with those great medieval monarchs.

0:34:310:34:34

Often the great medieval fighting monarchs,

0:34:340:34:37

like Edward III, like Henry V.

0:34:370:34:39

It's his celebration of British history,

0:34:390:34:43

almost to make people forget that his dynasty,

0:34:430:34:45

of course, was intrinsically German.

0:34:450:34:48

But inside the palace, George looked forward, not back.

0:34:540:34:58

George modernised what was a draughty, run-down building

0:35:110:35:15

with the greatest luxuries of the day,

0:35:150:35:18

and filled it with his favourite art and furniture.

0:35:180:35:21

George adored the grand and extravagant.

0:35:340:35:39

And nobody did grand and extravagant better than the French.

0:35:400:35:43

And luckily for George, while he was Prince of Wales,

0:35:430:35:46

the French Revolution was happening, releasing a cultural goldmine of treasures.

0:35:460:35:51

So, while the French aristocracy were being marched towards the guillotine,

0:35:510:35:55

George had no scruples in snapping up their masterpieces -

0:35:550:35:59

going cheap - and shipping them to England.

0:35:590:36:02

George was the collector par excellence

0:36:100:36:13

of objects that, to our eyes, look outrageously over the top.

0:36:130:36:18

But they're undeniably examples of supreme craftsmanship.

0:36:180:36:23

I think it's fair to say that George IV's motto

0:36:270:36:29

could well have been, "Never knowingly underspent or understated."

0:36:290:36:34

And this fabulous ornamental cup is a prime example of that.

0:36:340:36:39

It's a masterpiece of its kind.

0:36:390:36:42

It's from Germany, it's silver gilt and exquisitely carved ivory.

0:36:440:36:49

And it's a hunting scene, so we've got Diana here, goddess of the hunt,

0:36:490:36:53

surrounded by her sleeping nymphs

0:36:530:36:56

and various animals associated with the hunt.

0:36:560:36:59

We've got boars and rabbits here.

0:36:590:37:02

And then here's Hercules, propping the whole lot up.

0:37:020:37:06

And then more contemporary hunting scenes round here.

0:37:080:37:10

Now, the thing is, when George IV bought this,

0:37:100:37:14

it just wasn't quite splendid enough for him,

0:37:140:37:16

so he had these ivy leaves added.

0:37:160:37:19

And also emeralds, rubies and turquoise, just to make it...

0:37:200:37:26

that little bit more splendid.

0:37:260:37:28

Oh, and these days, the cup has earned itself

0:37:280:37:31

an affectionate nickname here at Windsor Castle - it's known as The Brain.

0:37:310:37:35

George IV bought some marvellous things,

0:37:450:37:47

but he had a butterfly mind, and his attention span was very short.

0:37:470:37:52

He loved things when he got them, but week after, was either bored and tried to sell them

0:37:520:37:57

or often tried to augment them.

0:37:570:37:59

You know, putting gilt mounts on a piece, adding more jewels.

0:37:590:38:03

It's a constant reinvention of his marvellous collection.

0:38:030:38:07

Sometimes George added such lavish embellishments to his treasures,

0:38:130:38:17

it's hard to tell what they were originally designed for.

0:38:170:38:21

Now, when I look at this fantastic confection of a clock, I must admit

0:38:230:38:28

that the fact it's a clock is the last thing I notice,

0:38:280:38:31

cos then you've got all this on top.

0:38:310:38:33

This statuette was added on by George IV, wasn't it?

0:38:330:38:37

Yes, George and the Dragon was very much a sort of castle symbol

0:38:370:38:42

of the patron saint -

0:38:420:38:43

you see George and the Dragon appear all over the castle.

0:38:430:38:46

So he had this mid 17th-century piece put on top of the casket.

0:38:460:38:51

-Now, this bit is a reliquary, isn't it? So for keeping holy relics.

-Yes.

0:38:510:38:55

And this book inside, what is it?

0:38:550:38:58

That's General Gordon's Bible.

0:38:580:39:00

-Which is from a different period?

-Yes.

0:39:000:39:02

General Gordon, the great Victorian military hero,

0:39:020:39:04

who died at the siege of Khartoum.

0:39:040:39:06

It's seen a bit of wear, this Bible, hasn't it?

0:39:060:39:08

Yes, some people say that that's his blood on that page there.

0:39:080:39:12

Ooh! Ooh, my goodness.

0:39:120:39:14

-But we can't be sure?

-No.

0:39:160:39:18

-It's a great story, though.

-Yes, it is.

0:39:180:39:20

The section with the clock face is from yet another period, isn't it?

0:39:200:39:24

-Yes. The clock itself is from 1734.

-So the time of George II.

0:39:240:39:29

Absolutely. But George IV embellished it with all these scrolls here.

0:39:290:39:34

Oh, I see, the dragons.

0:39:340:39:36

-Cos he loved the exotic, didn't he?

-Yes, absolutely.

0:39:360:39:39

And so we have the clock movement behind here and the organ down here.

0:39:390:39:43

There's an organ in here? I thought it was a stand!

0:39:430:39:45

No, it's an organ. It plays ten pieces by Handel,

0:39:450:39:48

-five of which he arranged specially for the clock.

-Can we hear it?

-Yes, certainly.

0:39:480:39:53

JAUNTY TUNE PLAYS

0:39:590:40:03

-Fantastic!

-Yes.

0:40:040:40:06

Oh, that's almost frenetic! That's so fast, isn't it?

0:40:230:40:26

-If I make it much slower, it doesn't get over the whole tune.

-Oh, I see. Wow.

-Yes.

0:40:260:40:30

At the heart of Windsor Castle is a celebration of what George IV saw as his proudest moment.

0:40:370:40:44

On the 18th June 1815, while George was still Prince Regent,

0:40:440:40:49

Britain had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.

0:40:490:40:52

After 16 years of war, at last there could be peace in Europe.

0:40:550:41:00

For George, the victory would always feel somehow personal.

0:41:000:41:04

George sees himself, rather oddly, as the nemesis of Napoleon,

0:41:060:41:11

although in fact he plays, you know,

0:41:110:41:14

only a walk-on role in Napoleon's defeat.

0:41:140:41:17

His fantasy, increasingly as his reign wore on,

0:41:170:41:20

was he really was at the Battle of Waterloo

0:41:200:41:23

and he'd led the charge that won the battle,

0:41:230:41:25

and of course he was King, so no-one said, "I think you're wrong there."

0:41:250:41:30

And the perfect place for George to play out his heroic fantasy...

0:41:320:41:37

was Windsor Castle.

0:41:370:41:38

This room, today known as the Waterloo Chamber,

0:41:480:41:51

is the final result of a tribute dreamt up by George IV

0:41:510:41:55

and, typically, on a monumental scale.

0:41:550:41:58

He commissioned these portraits of the great and the good,

0:42:000:42:03

deemed to be key players in the defeat of Napoleon.

0:42:030:42:07

And George himself is here, of course -

0:42:070:42:09

he wanted to make sure he was counted among the heroes!

0:42:090:42:13

But pride of place is given to a magnificent portrait of the Duke of Wellington,

0:42:190:42:24

who of course led Britain's troops in the final battle against Napoleon.

0:42:240:42:28

And just look at him!

0:42:280:42:29

Grand, imposing, every inch a victor,

0:42:290:42:34

brandishing his sword under a Roman-style triumphal arch.

0:42:340:42:38

And if you look carefully in the background,

0:42:400:42:43

you can just see a procession leading up to St Paul's Cathedral for a service of celebration.

0:42:430:42:49

The nation's sense of relief at defeating Napoleon was overwhelming,

0:42:590:43:03

rather like VE Day in 1945.

0:43:030:43:05

Before long, there was a national craze for commemorative objects from the war.

0:43:070:43:13

And one of the strangest mementos,

0:43:130:43:15

which is kept here at Windsor Castle,

0:43:150:43:17

is the musket ball that killed Admiral Nelson

0:43:170:43:20

at the Battle of Trafalgar.

0:43:200:43:22

So this is actually taken from Admiral Nelson's body.

0:43:250:43:28

But you have part of his uniform and gold braid

0:43:280:43:32

that came with the musket ball through his body.

0:43:320:43:35

And also gold braid that's fused to the remains of the musket ball.

0:43:350:43:39

Oh, yes, you can see the braid actually on the musket ball there.

0:43:390:43:43

And without wishing to be too gruesome,

0:43:430:43:45

the reason that is attached to the musket is because

0:43:450:43:48

as it passed through his body, it took some of the braid with it?

0:43:480:43:51

That's right, and his uniform.

0:43:510:43:53

It hit his left shoulder, entered his lung,

0:43:530:43:56

-severed some arteries and lodged in his spine.

-Gosh.

0:43:560:43:59

So he didn't stand a chance, did he?

0:43:590:44:01

No, he died with his officers on the Victory.

0:44:010:44:04

He's reputed to have said, "Kiss me, Hardy." I don't know if he did or not.

0:44:040:44:07

Well, according to the... according to the accounts, he did.

0:44:070:44:11

Right.

0:44:110:44:12

Well, it was clearly an emotional moment.

0:44:120:44:14

Who took this out of his body, then?

0:44:140:44:16

Right, the ship's surgeon was called Dr William Beatty.

0:44:160:44:19

-He took the musket ball and placed it in this locket.

-Did he wear it?

0:44:190:44:23

It's believed that he did, yeah.

0:44:230:44:26

And he finally bequeathed it to William IV,

0:44:260:44:29

who put it with, I think, a lot of pride into the Royal Collection.

0:44:290:44:33

So it's an extraordinary treasure but very gruesome.

0:44:330:44:37

It certainly is.

0:44:370:44:38

George IV didn't live long enough to see his new apartments at Windsor completed.

0:44:510:44:56

The first monarch who made full use of them was George's niece...

0:44:570:45:01

Queen Victoria.

0:45:010:45:03

Windsor Castle would become a playground

0:45:080:45:11

for Victoria's young family...

0:45:110:45:13

..as well as a place to entertain the grandest of visitors.

0:45:160:45:20

But for Victoria, the castle ultimately became a place of grief.

0:45:260:45:30

After her beloved Albert died of typhoid in 1861,

0:45:300:45:34

she spent many hours secluded behind these walls, shrouded in black,

0:45:340:45:39

earning herself the nickname "The Widow Of Windsor".

0:45:390:45:41

Yet Windsor would once again become a symbol of the nation's identity.

0:45:540:45:58

In the dark days of the First World War, Victoria's grandson, George V,

0:45:590:46:05

dropped the royal family's German name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

0:46:050:46:10

So by proclamation on 17th July 1917,

0:46:100:46:14

the Royal family became known as the House of Windsor.

0:46:140:46:18

It's extraordinary to think that the name the royal family chose -

0:46:260:46:29

and are still known by today -

0:46:290:46:31

was the name of a building.

0:46:310:46:33

THIS building.

0:46:330:46:35

They chose it, because Windsor was the greatest symbol they had

0:46:350:46:39

of Britain's strength and sovereignty.

0:46:390:46:43

The House of Windsor was one of the few European monarchies to survive the First World War.

0:46:490:46:55

And one of the most extraordinary objects at Windsor

0:46:550:46:58

captures that moment of continuity.

0:46:580:47:02

More than 1,000 of Britain's finest artists and craftsmen

0:47:090:47:13

created Queen Mary's Dolls' House.

0:47:130:47:17

It celebrated, in miniature, a very British way of life.

0:47:170:47:22

One of my favourite rooms in the house

0:47:280:47:30

is actually the wonderful King's Library, here.

0:47:300:47:33

-Look at all the books!

-I know - aren't they wonderful?

0:47:330:47:35

All the contemporary authors of the day in Britain

0:47:350:47:38

contributed a book to the library.

0:47:380:47:40

And it's an absolutely astonishing record of the 1920s, of that period,

0:47:400:47:44

of what was being done in literature.

0:47:440:47:46

And is each book really a book?

0:47:460:47:49

Absolutely, yes.

0:47:490:47:50

I can show you the inside of a printed book, and you can see...

0:47:500:47:53

The Tempest...look at that!

0:47:530:47:55

Yes, this is a little copy of one of the volumes of Shakespeare.

0:47:550:47:58

Incredible!

0:47:580:47:59

So they were all especially bound for the Dolls' House.

0:47:590:48:03

What about the furniture?

0:48:030:48:04

Is that all made by the finest craftsmen of the time as well?

0:48:040:48:07

Yes, and every single piece is made so beautifully

0:48:070:48:10

and with incredible amount of detail.

0:48:100:48:13

So if you open a drawer on a piece of furniture,

0:48:130:48:17

you'll see that every piece has been dovetailed properly,

0:48:170:48:20

and everything works.

0:48:200:48:21

Can we open a drawer?

0:48:210:48:22

I'll, um...try and give it a go.

0:48:220:48:27

I've put you on the spot now.

0:48:270:48:29

Right, that's...

0:48:290:48:30

Oh, look at that! And then all the things inside!

0:48:300:48:33

There's the King's stationery inside.

0:48:330:48:36

And on top of here, you can see the despatch boxes,

0:48:360:48:39

which were made for George V.

0:48:390:48:41

What's that - "The King..."?

0:48:410:48:43

-That says, "The King," and then his royal cipher on top.

-Lord Chancellor.

0:48:430:48:46

Yes.

0:48:460:48:48

-And the clocks, are they real clocks?

-Yes, yes.

0:48:480:48:51

And they were made by Cartier. They do actually work.

0:48:510:48:54

And the guns, look at those!

0:48:540:48:56

I know, those were some of King George V's favourite objects.

0:48:560:48:59

The first time the Dolls' House was seen by the public

0:48:590:49:01

was at the Empire Exhibition in 1924.

0:49:010:49:04

And that was to showcase British manufacturing

0:49:040:49:06

-at its best, wasn't it?

-Absolutely, yes.

0:49:060:49:10

The Dolls' House is an evocative glimpse

0:49:140:49:17

of a moment in time.

0:49:170:49:19

Everything in it represents royal daily life

0:49:200:49:23

exactly as it was in the early 1920s.

0:49:230:49:26

One of the things that's interesting about the house

0:49:410:49:44

is it's a real snapshot of life both above stairs and below stairs.

0:49:440:49:47

Ooh, I love looking at downstairs.

0:49:470:49:50

Yes, this is the wonderful kitchen.

0:49:500:49:52

-And what have we got here? Look, Colman's mustard.

-Yes, yes.

0:49:520:49:56

And look at all the copper pots and pans.

0:49:560:49:58

Yes, it was all perfectly made.

0:49:580:50:00

And I just wanted to show you the kettle, this is rather fun,

0:50:000:50:03

because it was actually...

0:50:030:50:04

You can see, if you turn it over, it was made from a penny,

0:50:040:50:08

and you can still see the King's head.

0:50:080:50:09

Oh, yes, there he is.

0:50:090:50:11

His ear, the most prominent bit.

0:50:110:50:14

Incredible. And what about all the plates here?

0:50:140:50:17

Yes, they all have a K on,

0:50:170:50:18

so they were clearly for kitchen use, not for upstairs.

0:50:180:50:21

Lest anyone commit the terrible faux pas

0:50:210:50:23

-of taking them above stairs.

-That's right.

0:50:230:50:26

And do you know what I really love as well, is the perfect...

0:50:260:50:30

locks on the doors and the little brass light switches.

0:50:300:50:34

I know, and they're in each room.

0:50:340:50:36

Again, this shows the exact attention to detail.

0:50:360:50:39

And not only is the house electrically wired throughout,

0:50:440:50:48

it even has its own fully functioning plumbing!

0:50:480:50:51

Of course, although this is in many ways just a country house,

0:50:580:51:03

it is obviously a royal house,

0:51:030:51:04

and we've got the crown jewels here in the little strongroom.

0:51:040:51:07

There we are, complete replicas of the crown jewels -

0:51:070:51:10

they've got real diamonds and real rubies.

0:51:100:51:12

-Really?

-Absolutely extraordinary.

-We have got the orbs and sceptre,

0:51:120:51:16

and they're gold, presumably.

0:51:160:51:18

Yes, absolutely, all supplied again by the crown jewellers, Garrard's.

0:51:180:51:22

And even the Prince of Wales' crown, coronet, is at the front there.

0:51:220:51:26

How exquisite.

0:51:260:51:28

Now a final surprise.

0:51:280:51:30

You may not know this, there's a garden to this house,

0:51:300:51:33

-it's hidden away at the moment.

-Where is it?

-Perhaps you'd like a look.

0:51:330:51:37

-I would.

-If I ask you to put these gloves on, then we can open it up.

0:51:370:51:40

-Where is it, then?

-It's just in this drawer down here.

0:51:400:51:43

Oh, I see.

0:51:430:51:46

How fascinating.

0:51:460:51:47

So if you take this, it's quite heavy.

0:51:470:51:49

-Right.

-We need to pull it out as far as it'll go.

0:51:490:51:53

-There we go.

-Ooh, gosh, you weren't kidding.

0:51:530:51:55

-Keep going, keep going?

-Keep going.

0:51:550:51:57

-And if you just gently pull the balustrade...

-You sure?

0:51:570:52:01

..it should just open up, there we go.

0:52:010:52:04

-Ah, wow, look at that!

-And there's the garden.

0:52:040:52:09

Isn't it wonderful?

0:52:090:52:10

Just wonderful.

0:52:100:52:12

And then here, garden implements.

0:52:140:52:16

-Yes, and even a baby's pram for the little...

-The royal offspring?

0:52:160:52:19

The royal offspring. Again, the detail is astonishing.

0:52:190:52:22

Fantastic - old lawnmower there.

0:52:220:52:25

And all hidden away.

0:52:250:52:28

How ingenious!

0:52:280:52:29

But Windsor Castle and all its treasures

0:52:400:52:42

would face their darkest hour on Friday 20th November 1992.

0:52:420:52:48

'Fire has swept through Windsor Castle

0:52:530:52:55

'and it's still burning, and this is the scene from Windsor tonight.'

0:52:550:52:59

'150 firemen have been battling the blaze,

0:52:590:53:02

'which has caused millions of pounds' worth of damage.'

0:53:020:53:05

'The fire apparently started in the private chapel,

0:53:050:53:07

'on the first floor of the northeast wing of the castle.'

0:53:070:53:10

As fire raged through the State apartments,

0:53:100:53:13

suddenly it looked as if this historic building

0:53:130:53:16

and all its contents might be lost forever.

0:53:160:53:19

Everyone in the castle fought to save what they could.

0:53:210:53:25

'The then Director of the Royal Collection, Sir Hugh Roberts,

0:53:260:53:29

'was part of the rescue operation.'

0:53:290:53:31

On the day of the fire, the afternoon of the fire,

0:53:310:53:35

I came into the end of this room here,

0:53:350:53:37

and you could hear the noise of the fire

0:53:370:53:40

-coming through at roof level.

-How terrifying.

0:53:400:53:42

It was, and the fire brigade, who were absolutely fantastic,

0:53:420:53:46

marvellous over fighting the fire, said that this room would go,

0:53:460:53:50

so would the next-door room, and there was no way of stopping it.

0:53:500:53:53

The fire brought the whole ceiling down

0:53:530:53:56

and brought everything else with it,

0:53:560:53:58

including, of course, this chandelier,

0:53:580:54:00

which we'd only just put back up after it had been rewired.

0:54:000:54:05

And that was buried under a huge mound of debris.

0:54:050:54:08

And the room was really burnt right back to the brick and to the stone

0:54:080:54:12

and just open to the sky.

0:54:120:54:14

So what happened in terms of the process of restoring this room?

0:54:140:54:17

The decision was taken, I think and hope rightly,

0:54:170:54:20

to put it back as it was and to follow the original designs.

0:54:200:54:24

-And this was George IV's designs?

-These were George IV's designs, yes.

0:54:240:54:28

When this was burnt down, the fabrics for example had been put there in the '20s by Queen Mary?

0:54:280:54:33

Queen Mary, yes. Yes, well, we've got that here, in fact, a piece of it which survives.

0:54:330:54:37

It's a pattern called Torcello, and it's, as you can see,

0:54:370:54:42

a huge pattern and actually really in many ways too big for the room.

0:54:420:54:47

And we had this marvellous drawing from the 1820s,

0:54:470:54:53

which was done for King George IV.

0:54:530:54:55

And we could see what the original design more or less was,

0:54:550:55:00

which was able to be copied for the walls and for the seat coverings.

0:55:000:55:05

And of course, these drawings were all shown to George IV for him to approve.

0:55:050:55:11

-And as you can see, he approved it.

-Oh, yes, he signed it there.

0:55:110:55:14

-So his attention to detail was incredible, then.

-Yes.

0:55:140:55:19

Now, at the time, when George IV created this room, it was...

0:55:190:55:22

it was beyond extravagant, it was phenomenally extravagant.

0:55:220:55:26

Obviously in '92, rather different times,

0:55:260:55:28

so it had to be done presumably with an eye to the budget?

0:55:280:55:30

Yes, I mean I think the view was that we should try

0:55:300:55:33

and restore something of the magnificence that George IV was...

0:55:330:55:38

attempting to do but without really spending quite the amount of money that he thought was normal.

0:55:380:55:44

Without bankrupting the nation!

0:55:440:55:45

Today, thanks to a team of specialist restorers,

0:55:510:55:54

you'd never know there'd been such a catastrophe.

0:55:540:55:58

The fire also led to some surprising discoveries.

0:56:040:56:08

This is the oldest working kitchen in the country.

0:56:140:56:17

Now, at first glance, it looks like a very impressive

0:56:170:56:21

but modern standard industrial kitchen.

0:56:210:56:24

But then look up and you'll see something quite different -

0:56:240:56:28

the original medieval timbered ceiling.

0:56:280:56:32

The ancient timbers were only revealed

0:56:350:56:37

when layers of later alterations were stripped away by the fire.

0:56:370:56:41

One of Windsor's grandest rooms did not fare so well.

0:56:470:56:52

It was decided, instead of recreating it exactly the way it was,

0:56:520:56:56

this would be an opportunity for fresh invention.

0:56:560:56:59

This is St George's Hall,

0:57:020:57:04

right by where the fire started, and it was completely destroyed.

0:57:040:57:10

It was decided that craftsmen should try to recapture the medieval spirit of the hall

0:57:100:57:15

but with a twist.

0:57:150:57:16

The magnificent oak ceiling may seem like it's been here for centuries,

0:57:200:57:25

but the hammerbeam design is entirely new,

0:57:250:57:28

created to replace a rather plain, flat roof.

0:57:280:57:33

What is faithful to the original, though,

0:57:350:57:37

is all these heraldic shields on the ceiling,

0:57:370:57:41

each one representing a Knight of the Garter.

0:57:410:57:44

And every one has been painstakingly repainted.

0:57:440:57:48

But if you spot the odd white one,

0:57:480:57:50

that's not cos they haven't got round to it yet -

0:57:500:57:53

it represents a knight whose colours were removed,

0:57:530:57:55

because he brought dishonour upon the Order.

0:57:550:57:59

No building in British history can lay claim to have reinvented itself

0:58:150:58:20

so often and so effectively.

0:58:200:58:23

That's what makes it unique among Britain's great buildings.

0:58:230:58:27

When I look at Windsor now, I don't just see a castle.

0:58:350:58:38

With its many layers, its years of glory

0:58:380:58:41

and of neglect, its bits added on, knocked down, embellished, restored,

0:58:410:58:46

Windsor is the story of the last 1,000 years of our nation.

0:58:460:58:51

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:59:100:59:13

E-mail [email protected]

0:59:130:59:16

Fiona Bruce visits Windsor Castle, the world's oldest and largest inhabited castle, dating back to the 11th century. Taking more than a thousand years to reach its familiar look, it has been a fortress, a home to medieval chivalry, a baroque palace, and finally a romantic fantasy.

From the bowels of the castle to the heights of the battlements, Fiona encounters all manner of royal treasures - from the musket ball that killed a naval hero to table decorations in gold and silver and encrusted with jewels; from the triple-headed portrait of a king who lost his head to Queen Mary's dolls' house with running taps, and a secret garden hidden in a drawer. All of this was almost lost in the disastrous fire of 1992.


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