Almost one thousand years of existence, Windsor Castle has become a symbol of England’s historical, cultural, and political development as embodied in its structure through the artistic intelligence of different contributors who witnessed significant events that took place during their periods.
The castle was a silent witness of the different periods, which included the phases of peaceful times, the raging rebellion and uprising of people, and the conquering of enemy, yet it remained standing throughout its existence because of the great kings and queens who strengthened the castle, and altered its designs to meet the political order of that period. It is a cultural symbol that emancipates the endearing sense of power that stood amidst the threat of defeat by enemy; that mirrored the beauty of art and architecture of the past; that reflected the real meaning of being a tough nation through the years.What has made the Windsor Castle survived the test time in view of the fact the very place where it stood was the main line of defense to protect the populous from the wide spread barbarian attacks. Was the castle’s engineering design has to do with its ability to weather all the challenges to its durability, workmanship, and aesthetic designs? During the Castle’s initial stage, it was constructed using woods and other light materials perhaps due to the unavailability of concrete materials and engineering designs due to the downfall of the Roman Empire which brought to an end the progressive civilization. It was the concept of self defense and the desire to rekindle the progressive civilization carried out by Rome during their domain that the castle was constructed to its splendid design. It withstood the test of time because it was built as a monument for the dawn of a new beginning of a progressive civilization under the British Empire.How was the castle developed over time and what were circumstantial events that led to its development changes?The Windsor Castle was built around the year 1080 as part of “a string of defenses around London” (Fry, P.
S. 2008 p. 54). Its layout of the fortress according to Somerset Fry was similar to the plan of Arundel Castle developed by the Normans for fortifications. From a wooden beginning, the fortification was expanded by both Henry I and Henry II from 1170 and they introduced stone to replace the long obsolete wooden fortification.
However, it was during the reign of Edward III in the 14th century that the castle was transformed to become one of the world’s “iconic royal palaces” (p. 54). Edward built massive concrete edifices which included the Gothic designed College of St. George in the lower Ward and a suite of Royal apartments in the upper ward and several other beautifully designed buildings which heralded the dawn of new progressive civilizations.
It stood the test of time through the patronage of Henry I and Henry II and most significantly, by Edwards III.Among the circumstantial events that led to the developmental changes of Windsor Castle were the French wars. Rosemary Kegl (1994) pointed out that Edward III continued the efforts of William the Conqueror to fortified the castle as “military strongholds and as royal reminders of the power and pervasiveness of the monarchy” (Kegl, p. 94). Edwards III chose the warrior St. George as the order patron in an effort to gain the support of the English nobility to “support the French wars through which he intended to expand England’s territories” (Kegl, p. 94).
How the architecture of Windsor Castle was was conceived and it was different from contemporary structuresThe architectural design of the Windsor castle was an important aspect of the new developments coming out of the ashes of Roman progressive civilizations. William Harrison Ainsworth (1844) noted that some traces of the architecture of the period are still discernible in the archway and machcecoulis of the principal gateway adjoining the round tower and in some important part of the castle (p. 154). However, the issue of architectural design of Windsor castle was not as fine as the design of the edifice. According to the Gentleman’s Magazine published in the 1840s, there had been some alterations of the original plan which was supposed to use most of the ancient architecture rather than the modern Gothic architecture. The magazine stated,“These drawings were made by the authors, and they were so greatly mixed up with the works at the castle, as in some measures to claim a share of the credit (or perhaps the discredit) attending the in the execution of the alterations and improvements of the castle” (p.
282).The alterations according to the magazine was designed to share of the credit in the architectural design by deviating from the original designs using mostly ancient perhaps Roman architecture, by replacing it with modern Gothic designs. The magazine pointed out,“True, the castle as pile of building is unequalled in point of grandeur and magnificence by any structure in this country; but let it ever remembered that it is to the mighty mind alone of its original architect, the immortal Wykeham, that the structure is indebted for the paramount features it now displays, and to his judicious management of the various portions of the buildings is solely attributable the picturesque effect of the structure. It was out of the power of Wyatville or any other architect of the modern gothic school, which in our days bore the appropriate name of “Carpenters Gothic” to injure the ensemble of the edifice, when viewed at such a distance that the abominations, which a close inspection of the architecture cannot be seen with distinctness” (p. 282).Here the historical interaction of historical events obviously impacted the Windsor castle’s architectural designs. This is evident even in the historical developments of the Windsor castle particularly during the reign of Edwards III who had expanded the development of the castle employing modern gothic architectural designs. The efforts thrown in by the English monarchs in the development of the castle in Massive gothic designs were a clear signal that a new progressive civilization was underway.
The some part of the castle went into reconstruction after it was succumb to fire in 1992. By estimate, about one-fifth of the structure was burned; one hundred two (102) rooms were burned of which nine were principal staterooms. That part of the building was irreparable because of the damage. The initial decision was to repair the structure into its original design. However, in the succeeding years, the designers and workmen have adopted technology in the restoration of the old buildings in England, which includes Windsor Castle. John Butt (–) mentioned that in the restoration proceeding, the use of technology through computer analysis of materials of these great historical structures. He stated, “Many forms of restoration and recreation have been devised precisely because technology has made them possible” (p.
191).The Impact of economic and technology at Windsor castle.Economic impact of the Windsor castle today contributes well perhaps to the nation in the form of tourism revenues. During the medieval time however, the economic impact of the Windsor castle was dependent on the monarchy rather than in its architecture. It means that the economic value of the castle does not rely on the brilliance neither of its architecture nor with its aesthetic beauty but when the reigning monarch makes the castle an official residence. Tom Bentley and James Wilsdon (2002) argued, “If there was no Queen occupying Windsor castle, one suspects there would be less interest in it, and the value of the asset to a republican would be reduced” (p. 77).
In view of the argument above, the economic impact on the architectural design of Windsor castle occupies distinct place. The Windsor castle had not only been a residence for great English monarchs, they were the ones who developed the castle. Windsor castle served as official residence for Edwards III and several other monarchs. Thus, the economic impact is that the castle provides a better economic value in the area. Priscilla Boniface agreed to this by stating that “The [Windsor] Castle is a symbol of royalty and while it continued to be highly regarded in its society, it could be construed that that [sic] society was still in some way elitist…” (p.
109).ConclusionWindsor Castle is just one of the great functional structures in the heart of England that provides enrichment, inspiration, and stimulation for the present times and even in the future. It is a living legend to the splendor and royalty of England. Though started as a concept of self-defense nine hundred years back, yet this historical structure serves as a monument for the English people because of the glory and beauty of the culture and history embedded in it.
The richness of art and architecture during every phase of reconstruction and development over the years were observed significantly; that is why, for English people, the castle reminds them of the progressive civilization of their country throughout the years.