On a sunny and warm afternoon at the end of March, a group of 19 Feltmakers headed by the Master and her husband George, assembled at the entrance to Windsor Castle for what was to be a stunning visit. Not only that, but by having our tickets stamped at the end of the visit, we assured ourselves of free return visits over the ensuing year.
The Castle is truly remarkable in architecture, from the oldest part, the Keep, standing on its own hill with a dry moat now filled with flowers, to the later additions, as one of the Guides described it – a small town.
As we walked in the sunlight to St. George’s Chapel a smart squad of Her Majesty’s Guards marched briskly past. The sheer size of the Castle is amazing, but to tour it, we were much helped by our electronic Guides secured by neck bands. This told us the story of St. George’s Chapel and of the service held there each year by the Members of the Order of the Garter headed by the Queen. I am sure we have all seen the ceremonial procession in the striking hat and robes. We noted that the Order is personal to the individual and after his death, Lord Ridley’s Coat of Arms and Sword had been removed from his seat.
We then toured the State Apartments, and were able to admire the wonderful restoration work carried out after the disastrous fire of 1992. We examined the Great Hall in which the Queen entertains visiting dignitaries to State Banquets and admired the expert fashion in which the roof had been totally rebuilt, with the Coats of Arms of those honoured by successive Kings and Queens together with the blank spaces of those who had transgressed and been stripped of their honours.
I think we all viewed with interest the Grace and Favour apartments in such a secure and serene environment once the members of the public had gone home.
To cap the visit, a most elegant Afternoon Tea, with champagne for those who wished it, was laid on at the Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel, a stone’s throw from the Castle Gates. Enjoying a relaxed cup of tea with the Master, sharing our thoughts and experiences, we looked back on a lovely day. Thanks go both to the Master and to Steward Louise Waller, for organising it. Sadly, due to a prior commitment, Louise was unable to be with us.
Past Master David Bentata