Thursday, October 20, 2011

And now for something completely different – 16 October 2011

After cheering the All Blacks on to victory against Australia in the World Cup semi-final, we had a complete change of scene and tempo, by visiting Windsor Castle.

Only 30 minutes from home, but it feels like a world away. Murray was able to use his age for the first time to receive a concession, so it seemed appropriate for Her Majesty to have the honour of being the first to give him this 'privilege'!

The Castle is stunning, and now that the high season is over, the 'Semi-State Rooms' are open too. In fact, these are probably the most opulent rooms, as they were the private apartments of George IV, always known for his extravagance.

The fire which destroyed part of the Castle in 1992 has resulted in some rooms receiving a makeover. Among these are George's apartments, which have been restored exactly as they were when George first renovated. So today we saw them looking fresh and gleaming with gold everywhere, just as George lived in them. His furnishings were rescued at the time of the fire, as were most of the furnishings and paintings in the other affected rooms.

The Castle was built in Norman times on top of a hill, an ideal place for defence. Today it dominates the town, and the combination of town with attractive old buildings plus dramatic castle towering over them, makes Windsor a lovely town to visit.

After afternoon tea in the oldest restaurant in Windsor, we went back to the Castle for Evensong in St George's Chapel. We have enjoyed services in a number of Royal Chapels, but this would have to be one of the best. The beautiful chapel with fine vaulted ceilings, also has the unique status as Chapel of the Order of the Garter. This is where the Knights of the Garter come every June for a special church service. Each Knight has there own seat in the Quire (the area where today's service was held)

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