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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Windsor Castle is the ultimate monument to English tradition.
But it's also more than that.
It's a building that at different times in our history has stood
as a symbol of momentous change.
Windsor is the oldest, and the largest
inhabited castle in the world.
It's been home to the country's monarchs for almost 1,000 years.
And it certainly looks every inch an ancient medieval fortress.
But the fascinating thing with this castle
is that not everything about it is as it seems.
From the outside, the heavy stone battlements and looming towers
make it a forbidding spectacle.
Yet what makes it so special is how a castle was transformed into a palace.
Because Windsor is the creation of different monarchs, each with their own style and ambition.
The elegant rooms, the works of art, the grand
and the intimate,
the strange and the exotic.
During its long life, Windsor has been many things -
a home to medieval chivalry and romance,
a baroque palace to restore royal fortunes after a king lost his head,
and an architectural fantasy.
The state apartments at the heart of Windsor seem a world apart
from the stern castle walls that enclose them.
So many objects within these rooms
have stories to tell of the nation's history, through all its shifting fortunes.
Of all the treasures of Windsor Castle, perhaps this extraordinary painting speaks
most powerfully of the glory, and in some cases the tragedy
of the monarchs who passed through here.
This unusual triple-headed study is of Charles I
at the height of his powers.
And the artist, Van Dyck,
was asked to paint it this way as a study for a later sculpture.
But it's a masterpiece in its own right.
I mean, look at the quality of the fabrics, for example.
And then how he's captured the character
of King Charles and his air of melancholy.
And, in fact, when you look at it, you can't help but remember
that this is a king who soon lost his head,
at a dark and uncertain time for the nation.
Windsor Castle is full of gems like this - objects that are not only
beautiful in themselves, but are also clues
to the lives of the kings and queens who, in their different ways,
have helped shape this unique building.
The castle's story begins with William the Conqueror.
Around 1070, just a few years after he'd invaded England,
William chose to build a fortress at Windsor, at the top of a steep chalk cliff.
He chose this location for a good reason.
This is easily the highest spot for miles around.
You'd have seen the enemy coming from a long way off.
And strategically it was important too, commanding the main route west out of London.
In its early years, the castle was a military machine,
designed to maintain tight control of the land around it.
The original appearance of that ancient castle is now almost hidden by later changes...
..but if you know where to look, you can still find evidence of its war-like origins.
Now, this is an office just tucked away in a corner of Windsor Castle.
But look under here.
As if by magic,
just lift these,
and the medieval castle emerges.
Because if you were a soldier
in Windsor under siege, you'd need a way to get out.
And this is the secret passage.
This is exactly what it looked like
in the 1200s. You can see it's wide enough to accommodate
a whole army of men, you can imagine them rushing down the stairs,
and it leads out on to the street.
And this is the clever bit - they'd then be able to sneak up
on the enemy and attack them from behind.
For nearly three centuries,
the castle remained more of a fortress than a royal home.
But one king's dream of a more heroic England
was to change that completely.
Edward III came to the throne in 1327
Windsor castle is Edward III's birthplace
and he is associated with Windsor Castle from the day of his birth.
That's not just because it's where he came from,
it's also because he is prophesied
to be the great king that comes out of Windsor, who will conquer France,
the saviour of England and who will achieve great things.
So his fortunes are bound up with Windsor Castle from day one.
The Windsor prophecy would soon become a reality,
as Edward led England to victory against the French.
But perhaps Edward's greatest achievement was at Windsor Castle itself.
Edward III had a new vision for the castle.
He would transform Windsor into the home of English chivalry - a new Camelot.
This would be an age of courtly love, when knights sought honour
both in battle, and in romance.
Edward created a new order of knights - the Order of the Garter.
His dream was to recreate the glories of the Round Table and the Court of King Arthur.
The first tournament of the Order of the Garter is held on St George's Day, 1349.
That is at the very height of the Black Death,
when 40% of the country is dying around him.
Even in the face of this terrible calamity that had come to England,
it's a demonstration
that it's royalty as usual, it's business as usual,
it's Edward being a king as usual.
So the Order of the Garter is a powerful symbol.
For centuries to come, Windsor would remain home to Edward's illustrious order of knights.
And his vision would culminate in one of the finest of all medieval buildings -
the spectacular St George's Chapel, spiritual home of the Order of the Garter.
There are some wonderful details on the building, like the animals
known as the King's Beasts that perch along the top.
There are 76 of these heraldic creatures in all -
such as the bull for bravery,
the griffin for vigilance, the unicorn for strength,
the swan for grace and perfection.
But what makes St George's Chapel so special is the soaring windows.
Gothic architecture was all about height and light.
And the sheer quantity of stained glass held up by delicate stone tracery
makes the interior feel vast and almost supernaturally lit.
Once inside, rows of carved stone angels
draw the eye up to one of the last great flowerings of English gothic -
this magnificent fan vault ceiling,
studded with badges of the Knights of the Garter.
The legacy of the Garter has endured.
It is now the oldest surviving order of chivalry in the world.
But by the 1500s, the medieval world of Edward III
was well and truly over.
England would enjoy a time of relative peace and plenty.
So castles everywhere were falling out of favour.
English kings and queens began to value comfort over battlements.
But the castles of England, and Windsor among them,
were to have one last day in the firing line.
By the 1640s, the country was in the grip of a bitter civil war.
Castles were once more being used to fight bloody battles.
The King himself, Charles I, was captured and imprisoned here,
in his own royal castle.
A month later, he was executed.
After a public beheading in Whitehall, Charles's body was buried at Windsor.
Monarchy was abolished, and Oliver Cromwell was in charge.
Cromwell's men set about flogging off all the King's assets.
Now, Charles I was the first great royal art collector, and there was
a monumental quantity of paintings and precious objects to be disposed of.
Windsor Castle itself was very nearly sold off,
but parliament voted by the narrowest of margins to keep it.
It was a low point for the castle,
and yet it paved the way for a glittering transformation.
Within the walls of the castle, the son of Charles I, Charles II,
created a sumptuous palace, to revive once more the glories of royalty.
It was a bold move after the anti-monarchist years
of Cromwell's republic, when it had seemed impossible
a king would ever again sit on the English throne.
If Charles II was going to avoid losing his head like his father,
he needed to re-establish a clear sense of royal authority.
And Windsor Castle was key to his plan.
Right from the start of his reign in 1660,
Charles wanted to reconnect with the royal past.
But he set about it with a flamboyance never before seen in England.
This is the King's dining room, and appropriately enough, the theme is food.
Just look at this amazing ceiling
painted by the celebrated Antonio Verrio.
And it certainly lives up to its title, The Banquet Of The Gods.
Charles chose to create his palace in the latest style sweeping through Europe - baroque.
Its grandeur and ambition proclaimed the restoration of the monarchy.
I think the Baroque style
fitted very well with Charles II's sense of what monarchy looked like,
it was big, bold, it smacked you on the chops.
It's not a restrained style, it's kind of exuberant, it's colourful,
and it's full of human beings.
It's kind of fleshy, if you like.
It really was like a fabulous stage set.
For the walls, Charles employed the master carver, Grinling Gibbons,
to create some of the plumpest, most luscious fruit, flowers and animals
you'll ever see in wood.
Charles II spared no expense in reflecting the glory of his rule.
And certainly, anyone walking in here would know immediately that
the austerity of the Cromwell years was over, and a new era had dawned.
And where Charles's father had been seen as cold and distant,
Charles knew he needed to be more approachable -
albeit in a suitably regal way.
So he created a new architecture for a new court.
This sequence of rooms gives us a good idea of how the system worked.
You started off in the larger, more public rooms,
and then depending on your importance and status,
you'd be allowed to penetrate further and further
into the private rooms, and therefore closer to the King.
And you'd know you'd made it if you got this far.
This is the King's bedchamber.
He didn't actually sleep here -
that was in a private, smaller room elsewhere.
But this is where he would perform a ritualised getting-out-of-bed
called a levee, which is an idea he brought over from France.
And he would actually get out of bed in his underclothes,
the pages of the body would dress him, and those
lucky enough to be invited in to watch could take the opportunity
to have an informal word with the King.
A bit of networking, if you like.
Charles II had a PR job on his hands to reinforce that message
that monarchy is the most glorious thing,
to which everybody must instinctively owe their loyalty.
But he does it in a way that makes people feel warm towards him,
because what he does is push back the boundary of where the sort of closed door is, so that people are
able to come into his inner rooms
and see him doing a lot of domestic things that no-one would have...
Only a really small number of people would have seen Charles I doing.
Within two years of Charles's restoration as king, he married.
The new queen arrived in England in April 1662.
This spectacular scene on the ceiling is of Charles's Portuguese wife,
Catherine of Braganza.
She's being transported up on the clouds of heaven,
and winged zephyrs are supporting her billowing canopy.
But in reality, Catherine had a lot to put up with.
She often felt upstaged by Charles's string of mistresses,
most notably the luscious Nell Gwyn.
Charles's wife had an almost impossible position, really.
He was fond of her, and when she arrived at Court he said,
"I want to be the best husband I could possibly be" to her,
his intentions were good.
But the kind of, you know, the attractions of the beauties
of his Court proved too much of an eye-catch for him.
So he doesn't remain faithful to her.
But the thing that was the real killer for her was that she wasn't able to have children,
and as a Queen, this is your primary role, is to provide an heir.
And she was obviously haunted by it.
In the end, Charles stuck by his wife -
but he was always seen as the king who loved pleasure,
whether it was women or art.
And to furnish his magnificent new palace at Windsor,
he resolved to restore the fortunes of the royal art collection.
Most of it had been sold off by Cromwell to repay debts.
Now Charles began to hunt it down and reclaim it.
Some of it was easy - from Cromwell's widow alone, he managed to retrieve 17 cartloads
of paintings and sculptures
and other precious objects. And this room is a kind of memorial
to just a tiny selection
of Charles I's paintings, here by great Italian Renaissance masters.
There's one in particular that caught my eye.
This is thought to be by Titian.
On first appraisal, it looks like the artistic equivalent
of a top-shelf magazine.
But no-one's quite sure what's happening in this painting.
Has the young woman fainted, and the man is actually feeling her heartbeat,
or is she a faithless wife, he is her lover and that's her cuckolded husband behind her?
There's a lot of mystery surrounding this painting.
But one thing's for sure, it's rather saucy.
Charles was both sensuous and serious in his love of the arts.
And nothing has a more important place in the collection that Charles assembled
than the drawings of the Renaissance artist and anatomist Leonardo da Vinci.
Now, tell me about this book.
This album, which is now empty, was the album in which 600 drawings
by Leonardo came to England in the 17th century, into the collection in the reign of Charles II.
So the largest quantity of Leonardo drawings of flowers, of plants...
And his studies for paintings,
The Last Supper, Madonna and Child with St Anne, all in here.
And so then they were cut out, were they?
Well, they were removed, shall we say, in Queen Victoria's reign for individual mounting,
so they could be exhibited, and to prevent them rubbing against each other on the pages.
-And then this was originally in this book?
He's got this absolutely perfect,
it's very tender, this little drawing, isn't it?
It's a beautiful thing, little curled up figure with red chalk,
feeling like flesh and blood. Very moving.
-Incredible. And what about this, this is his famous mirror writing?
-It's his backwards writing.
-Yes, because he was left handed, he wrote throughout his life in mirror writing.
-And why did he do that?
We don't really know. It must have been simpler for him, as a left hander, without smudging the ink.
And so all his writing here, what's he doing here, he's making notes about...?
He would use these sheets as little mementoes and he would remind himself
of whatever it was he was studying at any one time.
Now we've got both sides of the page here.
Look at that.
Now what are we seeing here, is that a liver?
Yes, it's a study of the internal organs of the foetus.
Leonardo clearly dissected pre-term children.
Yuk! Were they allowed to do that?
Yes, he was doing it in monastery hospitals in full knowledge of the church.
In a Catholic country? How surprising.
As long as it was done respectfully there was direct papal sanction to conduct this sort of work.
When Charles II acquired these, would he have felt that they added to his stature as a monarch
interested in the arts and in sciences?
He clearly had an interest in the arts and the sciences, he founded the Royal Society.
I think they would have been regarded
primarily as a curiosity in many ways, rather than
understood in the way we do today.
-So they wouldn't have been regarded as works of art?
-Yes, both works of art and scientific studies.
Leonardo had a reputation at the time as a bizarre genius in some ways, and it was very obvious that he was
taking the subject far beyond what anybody else at the time was doing.
These drawings are unique, they are probably the jewel of the entire collection.
By the time building work was completed on Charles's palace,
he had only one year left to enjoy it.
He died in 1685.
For the next 100 years, Windsor went into decline,
as successive monarchs chose to spend their time elsewhere.
A series of watercolours by the artist Paul Sandby show that
by the 1770s, parts of the castle had become almost a public thoroughfare.
So what have we got here?
This is a rather wonderful cross-section
-of English life in the 1770s.
-What's this chap doing?
-This is a knife grinder, sparks coming off, and tiny boy for going up chimneys.
-Black from head to foot.
Black from head to foot, exactly, contrasting with these posh girls.
This is the water carrier, this lady beating her mules, and behind is water.
So was it just that anybody could kind of... Once the monarchs had started to live elsewhere,
it just became open season at Windsor?
People could just come in the gates and wander round as if it were a town?
Up to a point, it was still a military garrison,
and so you see in these views, you see soldiers around the place.
And in one of them, you can see a lady in a red cloak.
And one of the surviving printed instructions that we have says specifically
-that ladies in red cloaks are not allowed into the quadrangle, the upper area.
Cos that was considered a bit racy?
Well, they were presumably people of ill repute.
This sad lady has got a crutch and a basket and a red cloak.
I think she's perhaps even lost her leg.
She has, yes, I don't think she looks racy, but...
-And what about this, what have we got here?
Here it looks very run down, there's a door
hanging off its hinges, so it's in a real state of disrepair.
It looks like weeds are growing out of the top here.
Yeah. And here you have a soldier chatting up a pretty girl here.
While this chat-up is going on,
this old crow is looking out of the window saying, "You stop that!"
Meanwhile, there's a punch-up going on behind this gate which is about to fall off.
So it gives the impression of a slightly run-down extension of the town.
And certainly not a royal castle.
By now, the castle was little more than a public thoroughfare.
Then, in 1776, George III decided to move the royal household back to Windsor.
Though to begin with, they didn't actually live in the castle.
Unlike his ancestor Charles II, George III was a much more sober, serious-minded kind of chap
with simple taste and a love of the countryside.
His nickname was Farmer George.
And rather than move into this rambling old castle,
he and his family chose to live in a much more modest building
that once stood on this very spot - the Queen's Lodge.
You can just imagine them gazing out their window
at what was a dilapidated old castle -
a bit like having an oversized romantic ruin
at the bottom of your garden.
Unlike George I and II - both born and raised in Germany -
George III was eager to prove he was an English king through and through.
He would restore Windsor Castle as a royal home.
Repairs began in 1781.
George and his family gradually moved into the castle
that was always rather short on home comforts.
There were no carpets for example -
the King thought they were unhygienic.
And it was always freezing.
Queen Charlotte complained bitterly that, "This is the coldest house
"that ever existed, and all idea of comfort is vanished with it."
George III is often remembered as the King who went mad.
It's now thought he suffered from porphyria,
a chemical imbalance of the brain that caused bouts of insanity.
In fact, when he was well,
George was an intelligent, if eccentric, man who appreciated the arts.
In 1789, when George III was 50
and had recovered from his first serious bout of madness,
this glorious china service was commissioned to celebrate his return to health.
It's of the finest French Sevres porcelain, and it's a tea and coffee service.
And you can see the plates here, each one with a cursive G for George...
the coffee cups...
..the tea cup...
and the rather charming slops bowl, as it was known,
where you could put the detritus from your plates.
And each piece has a celebration of the King, if you like.
So here, "Huzza the King is well!"
Then we have...
"The Patron of Arts", because George III founded the Royal Academy.
Then my particular favourite,
"The Best of Fraters".
That's supposed to be "The Best of Fathers", but it is French,
so I suppose we can allow them the odd spelling mistake.
When the King's reason finally deserted him for good,
Windsor Castle became his prison.
He was kept under lock and key for the sake of his own safety...
and the safety of others.
This remarkable and rather heartbreaking little portrait
of George III is of him in the last few months of his life.
And you won't see another royal portrait like this,
because they are always designed to project status, power and wealth.
And here, look, he's just a frail old man.
And by this time, he was hopelessly mad, completely deaf,
and he's staring into a middle distance he can't actually see,
because he was completely blind as well.
Soon after this was painted, the King was dead.
Now the crown passed to a very different character...
his son, who would completely reinvent Windsor Castle.
George IV has gone down in history
as one of the most unpopular monarchs of all time -
bloated, self-indulgent, ludicrously extravagant.
But he had an eye for great art, and a real creative vision.
And though it made him unpopular at the time,
we're reaping the benefits now.
Because the Windsor Castle we see today,
with its romantic skyline of turrets and battlements,
is essentially George's creation.
In 1824, George IV commissioned Windsor's most ambitious scheme yet,
to transform the castle's hotchpotch of styles
into a single gothic invention.
Where there were plain walls, he spiced them up with parapets...
..and pointed gothic arches.
For George, the central Round Tower wasn't dramatic enough,
so he added an extra 30 feet in height!
His was a romantic idea of how a medieval castle should look.
I think George IV is creating a fantasy castle, if you like.
It's all about recapturing the past
and identifying with those great medieval monarchs.
Often the great medieval fighting monarchs,
like Edward III, like Henry V.
It's his celebration of British history,
almost to make people forget that his dynasty,
of course, was intrinsically German.
But inside the palace, George looked forward, not back.
George modernised what was a draughty, run-down building
with the greatest luxuries of the day,
and filled it with his favourite art and furniture.
George adored the grand and extravagant.
And nobody did grand and extravagant better than the French.
And luckily for George, while he was Prince of Wales,
the French Revolution was happening, releasing a cultural goldmine of treasures.
So, while the French aristocracy were being marched towards the guillotine,
George had no scruples in snapping up their masterpieces -
going cheap - and shipping them to England.
George was the collector par excellence
of objects that, to our eyes, look outrageously over the top.
But they're undeniably examples of supreme craftsmanship.
I think it's fair to say that George IV's motto
could well have been, "Never knowingly underspent or understated."
And this fabulous ornamental cup is a prime example of that.
It's a masterpiece of its kind.
It's from Germany, it's silver gilt and exquisitely carved ivory.
And it's a hunting scene, so we've got Diana here, goddess of the hunt,
surrounded by her sleeping nymphs
and various animals associated with the hunt.
We've got boars and rabbits here.
And then here's Hercules, propping the whole lot up.
And then more contemporary hunting scenes round here.
Now, the thing is, when George IV bought this,
it just wasn't quite splendid enough for him,
so he had these ivy leaves added.
And also emeralds, rubies and turquoise, just to make it...
that little bit more splendid.
Oh, and these days, the cup has earned itself
an affectionate nickname here at Windsor Castle - it's known as The Brain.
George IV bought some marvellous things,
but he had a butterfly mind, and his attention span was very short.
He loved things when he got them, but week after, was either bored and tried to sell them
or often tried to augment them.
You know, putting gilt mounts on a piece, adding more jewels.
It's a constant reinvention of his marvellous collection.
Sometimes George added such lavish embellishments to his treasures,
it's hard to tell what they were originally designed for.
Now, when I look at this fantastic confection of a clock, I must admit
that the fact it's a clock is the last thing I notice,
cos then you've got all this on top.
This statuette was added on by George IV, wasn't it?
Yes, George and the Dragon was very much a sort of castle symbol
of the patron saint -
you see George and the Dragon appear all over the castle.
So he had this mid 17th-century piece put on top of the casket.
-Now, this bit is a reliquary, isn't it? So for keeping holy relics.
And this book inside, what is it?
That's General Gordon's Bible.
-Which is from a different period?
General Gordon, the great Victorian military hero,
who died at the siege of Khartoum.
It's seen a bit of wear, this Bible, hasn't it?
Yes, some people say that that's his blood on that page there.
Ooh! Ooh, my goodness.
-But we can't be sure?
-It's a great story, though.
-Yes, it is.
The section with the clock face is from yet another period, isn't it?
-Yes. The clock itself is from 1734.
-So the time of George II.
Absolutely. But George IV embellished it with all these scrolls here.
Oh, I see, the dragons.
-Cos he loved the exotic, didn't he?
And so we have the clock movement behind here and the organ down here.
There's an organ in here? I thought it was a stand!
No, it's an organ. It plays ten pieces by Handel,
-five of which he arranged specially for the clock.
-Can we hear it?
JAUNTY TUNE PLAYS
Oh, that's almost frenetic! That's so fast, isn't it?
-If I make it much slower, it doesn't get over the whole tune.
-Oh, I see. Wow.
At the heart of Windsor Castle is a celebration of what George IV saw as his proudest moment.
On the 18th June 1815, while George was still Prince Regent,
Britain had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
After 16 years of war, at last there could be peace in Europe.
For George, the victory would always feel somehow personal.
George sees himself, rather oddly, as the nemesis of Napoleon,
although in fact he plays, you know,
only a walk-on role in Napoleon's defeat.
His fantasy, increasingly as his reign wore on,
was he really was at the Battle of Waterloo
and he'd led the charge that won the battle,
and of course he was King, so no-one said, "I think you're wrong there."
And the perfect place for George to play out his heroic fantasy...
was Windsor Castle.
This room, today known as the Waterloo Chamber,
is the final result of a tribute dreamt up by George IV
and, typically, on a monumental scale.
He commissioned these portraits of the great and the good,
deemed to be key players in the defeat of Napoleon.
And George himself is here, of course -
he wanted to make sure he was counted among the heroes!
But pride of place is given to a magnificent portrait of the Duke of Wellington,
who of course led Britain's troops in the final battle against Napoleon.
And just look at him!
Grand, imposing, every inch a victor,
brandishing his sword under a Roman-style triumphal arch.
And if you look carefully in the background,
you can just see a procession leading up to St Paul's Cathedral for a service of celebration.
The nation's sense of relief at defeating Napoleon was overwhelming,
rather like VE Day in 1945.
Before long, there was a national craze for commemorative objects from the war.
And one of the strangest mementos,
which is kept here at Windsor Castle,
is the musket ball that killed Admiral Nelson
at the Battle of Trafalgar.
So this is actually taken from Admiral Nelson's body.
But you have part of his uniform and gold braid
that came with the musket ball through his body.
And also gold braid that's fused to the remains of the musket ball.
Oh, yes, you can see the braid actually on the musket ball there.
And without wishing to be too gruesome,
the reason that is attached to the musket is because
as it passed through his body, it took some of the braid with it?
That's right, and his uniform.
It hit his left shoulder, entered his lung,
-severed some arteries and lodged in his spine.
So he didn't stand a chance, did he?
No, he died with his officers on the Victory.
He's reputed to have said, "Kiss me, Hardy." I don't know if he did or not.
Well, according to the... according to the accounts, he did.
Well, it was clearly an emotional moment.
Who took this out of his body, then?
Right, the ship's surgeon was called Dr William Beatty.
-He took the musket ball and placed it in this locket.
-Did he wear it?
It's believed that he did, yeah.
And he finally bequeathed it to William IV,
who put it with, I think, a lot of pride into the Royal Collection.
So it's an extraordinary treasure but very gruesome.
It certainly is.
George IV didn't live long enough to see his new apartments at Windsor completed.
The first monarch who made full use of them was George's niece...
Windsor Castle would become a playground
for Victoria's young family...
..as well as a place to entertain the grandest of visitors.
But for Victoria, the castle ultimately became a place of grief.
After her beloved Albert died of typhoid in 1861,
she spent many hours secluded behind these walls, shrouded in black,
earning herself the nickname "The Widow Of Windsor".
Yet Windsor would once again become a symbol of the nation's identity.
In the dark days of the First World War, Victoria's grandson, George V,
dropped the royal family's German name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
So by proclamation on 17th July 1917,
the Royal family became known as the House of Windsor.
It's extraordinary to think that the name the royal family chose -
and are still known by today -
was the name of a building.
They chose it, because Windsor was the greatest symbol they had
of Britain's strength and sovereignty.
The House of Windsor was one of the few European monarchies to survive the First World War.
And one of the most extraordinary objects at Windsor
captures that moment of continuity.
More than 1,000 of Britain's finest artists and craftsmen
created Queen Mary's Dolls' House.
It celebrated, in miniature, a very British way of life.
One of my favourite rooms in the house
is actually the wonderful King's Library, here.
-Look at all the books!
-I know - aren't they wonderful?
All the contemporary authors of the day in Britain
contributed a book to the library.
And it's an absolutely astonishing record of the 1920s, of that period,
of what was being done in literature.
And is each book really a book?
I can show you the inside of a printed book, and you can see...
The Tempest...look at that!
Yes, this is a little copy of one of the volumes of Shakespeare.
So they were all especially bound for the Dolls' House.
What about the furniture?
Is that all made by the finest craftsmen of the time as well?
Yes, and every single piece is made so beautifully
and with incredible amount of detail.
So if you open a drawer on a piece of furniture,
you'll see that every piece has been dovetailed properly,
and everything works.
Can we open a drawer?
I'll, um...try and give it a go.
I've put you on the spot now.
Oh, look at that! And then all the things inside!
There's the King's stationery inside.
And on top of here, you can see the despatch boxes,
which were made for George V.
What's that - "The King..."?
-That says, "The King," and then his royal cipher on top.
-And the clocks, are they real clocks?
And they were made by Cartier. They do actually work.
And the guns, look at those!
I know, those were some of King George V's favourite objects.
The first time the Dolls' House was seen by the public
was at the Empire Exhibition in 1924.
And that was to showcase British manufacturing
-at its best, wasn't it?
The Dolls' House is an evocative glimpse
of a moment in time.
Everything in it represents royal daily life
exactly as it was in the early 1920s.
One of the things that's interesting about the house
is it's a real snapshot of life both above stairs and below stairs.
Ooh, I love looking at downstairs.
Yes, this is the wonderful kitchen.
-And what have we got here? Look, Colman's mustard.
And look at all the copper pots and pans.
Yes, it was all perfectly made.
And I just wanted to show you the kettle, this is rather fun,
because it was actually...
You can see, if you turn it over, it was made from a penny,
and you can still see the King's head.
Oh, yes, there he is.
His ear, the most prominent bit.
Incredible. And what about all the plates here?
Yes, they all have a K on,
so they were clearly for kitchen use, not for upstairs.
Lest anyone commit the terrible faux pas
-of taking them above stairs.
And do you know what I really love as well, is the perfect...
locks on the doors and the little brass light switches.
I know, and they're in each room.
Again, this shows the exact attention to detail.
And not only is the house electrically wired throughout,
it even has its own fully functioning plumbing!
Of course, although this is in many ways just a country house,
it is obviously a royal house,
and we've got the crown jewels here in the little strongroom.
There we are, complete replicas of the crown jewels -
they've got real diamonds and real rubies.
-We have got the orbs and sceptre,
and they're gold, presumably.
Yes, absolutely, all supplied again by the crown jewellers, Garrard's.
And even the Prince of Wales' crown, coronet, is at the front there.
Now a final surprise.
You may not know this, there's a garden to this house,
-it's hidden away at the moment.
-Where is it?
-Perhaps you'd like a look.
-If I ask you to put these gloves on, then we can open it up.
-Where is it, then?
-It's just in this drawer down here.
Oh, I see.
So if you take this, it's quite heavy.
-We need to pull it out as far as it'll go.
-There we go.
-Ooh, gosh, you weren't kidding.
-Keep going, keep going?
-And if you just gently pull the balustrade...
..it should just open up, there we go.
-Ah, wow, look at that!
-And there's the garden.
Isn't it wonderful?
And then here, garden implements.
-Yes, and even a baby's pram for the little...
-The royal offspring?
The royal offspring. Again, the detail is astonishing.
Fantastic - old lawnmower there.
And all hidden away.
But Windsor Castle and all its treasures
would face their darkest hour on Friday 20th November 1992.
'Fire has swept through Windsor Castle
'and it's still burning, and this is the scene from Windsor tonight.'
'150 firemen have been battling the blaze,
'which has caused millions of pounds' worth of damage.'
'The fire apparently started in the private chapel,
'on the first floor of the northeast wing of the castle.'
As fire raged through the State apartments,
suddenly it looked as if this historic building
and all its contents might be lost forever.
Everyone in the castle fought to save what they could.
'The then Director of the Royal Collection, Sir Hugh Roberts,
'was part of the rescue operation.'
On the day of the fire, the afternoon of the fire,
I came into the end of this room here,
and you could hear the noise of the fire
-coming through at roof level.
It was, and the fire brigade, who were absolutely fantastic,
marvellous over fighting the fire, said that this room would go,
so would the next-door room, and there was no way of stopping it.
The fire brought the whole ceiling down
and brought everything else with it,
including, of course, this chandelier,
which we'd only just put back up after it had been rewired.
And that was buried under a huge mound of debris.
And the room was really burnt right back to the brick and to the stone
and just open to the sky.
So what happened in terms of the process of restoring this room?
The decision was taken, I think and hope rightly,
to put it back as it was and to follow the original designs.
-And this was George IV's designs?
-These were George IV's designs, yes.
When this was burnt down, the fabrics for example had been put there in the '20s by Queen Mary?
Queen Mary, yes. Yes, well, we've got that here, in fact, a piece of it which survives.
It's a pattern called Torcello, and it's, as you can see,
a huge pattern and actually really in many ways too big for the room.
And we had this marvellous drawing from the 1820s,
which was done for King George IV.
And we could see what the original design more or less was,
which was able to be copied for the walls and for the seat coverings.
And of course, these drawings were all shown to George IV for him to approve.
-And as you can see, he approved it.
-Oh, yes, he signed it there.
-So his attention to detail was incredible, then.
Now, at the time, when George IV created this room, it was...
it was beyond extravagant, it was phenomenally extravagant.
Obviously in '92, rather different times,
so it had to be done presumably with an eye to the budget?
Yes, I mean I think the view was that we should try
and restore something of the magnificence that George IV was...
attempting to do but without really spending quite the amount of money that he thought was normal.
Without bankrupting the nation!
Today, thanks to a team of specialist restorers,
you'd never know there'd been such a catastrophe.
The fire also led to some surprising discoveries.
This is the oldest working kitchen in the country.
Now, at first glance, it looks like a very impressive
but modern standard industrial kitchen.
But then look up and you'll see something quite different -
the original medieval timbered ceiling.
The ancient timbers were only revealed
when layers of later alterations were stripped away by the fire.
One of Windsor's grandest rooms did not fare so well.
It was decided, instead of recreating it exactly the way it was,
this would be an opportunity for fresh invention.
This is St George's Hall,
right by where the fire started, and it was completely destroyed.
It was decided that craftsmen should try to recapture the medieval spirit of the hall
but with a twist.
The magnificent oak ceiling may seem like it's been here for centuries,
but the hammerbeam design is entirely new,
created to replace a rather plain, flat roof.
What is faithful to the original, though,
is all these heraldic shields on the ceiling,
each one representing a Knight of the Garter.
And every one has been painstakingly repainted.
But if you spot the odd white one,
that's not cos they haven't got round to it yet -
it represents a knight whose colours were removed,
because he brought dishonour upon the Order.
No building in British history can lay claim to have reinvented itself
so often and so effectively.
That's what makes it unique among Britain's great buildings.
When I look at Windsor now, I don't just see a castle.
With its many layers, its years of glory
and of neglect, its bits added on, knocked down, embellished, restored,
Windsor is the story of the last 1,000 years of our nation.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
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.