1 The Town of Windsor
1 Of the town of Windsor
Windsor is delightfully situated in the county of Berks, twenty two miles west of London, on the verdant banks of the mild and gentle River Thames; which, from its serpentine course in this part of it, was, in King Edward the Confessor's charter, termed Windlesora, (the Winding Shore) hence, in time, it was called Windsor. This town, on account of the inviting situation of its Castle, being favoured with the residence of Edward I, who, in the year 1276, made it a free borough, and granted the inhabitants several privileges, soon became a place of great resort, and its environs the constant residence of many of the nobility. The above mentioned charter [See Note] was confirmed, and other immunities conferred, by Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VII, Henry VIII, James I and Charles II, by which the corporation have the power of holding general Quarter Sessions, and of trying all petty offences, and in some cases felony.
The town is governed by a mayor and thirty brethren, ten of whom have the title of aldermen, and out of these the mayor and justices are annually chosen; three benchers, and sixteen burgesses; from the Latter, two bailiffs are elected at the same time the mayor and justice are. Besides these there are a high steward, chamberlain, under steward, town clerk, sergeant at mace, and the usual subordinate officers. This borough has two representatives in parliament, who at present are the Earl of Mornington, and William Grant, Esq.
The Town of Windsor consists of six principal streets, viz. Park Street, High Street, Thames Street, Peascod Street, Church Street, and Castle Street. The less considerable streets are, Butcher Row, lately called Queen Street, St. Alban's Street, formerly named Fish Street, Sheet Street, George Street, Beer Lane, now called Red Lion Street, and Datchet Lane. The six first mentioned are all of them well disposed, paved and lighted, in the same manner as London, by virtue of an Act of Parliament passed in 1769.
The streets and lanes last named, are but partially lighted and indifferently paved; but as the buildings, and consequently the rates, are constantly improving, there is reason to hope that those, ere long, will be rendered more commodious. For carrying the aforesaid Act into execution, His Majesty, out of his gracious favour, gave £1000, the Hon. Augustus Keppel, and Richard Tonfon, Esq., the then members £500 each: Many gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood also subscribed liberally to promote the undertaking.
In addition to the above, in 1774, Admiral Keppel gave £500 more, and Mr. Montague £1000.
The Guildhall, which is situated in the principal part of the town, was erected in the year 1686, from a design by Sir Thomas Fiddes, Surveyor of the Cinque Ports, at the expense of £2006.14s. and was paid by the Corporation, except the sum of £680.7s.6d. which was presented by several gentlemen.
This is a handsome structure, supported with columns and arches of Portland stone. The hall or room in which the corporation meet for the dispatch of the business of the borough, is spacious, and well adapted for the purpose; and was in 1787, greatly improved by altering the construction of the windows, and substituting modern sashes in lieu of common quarries. It is adorned with the portraits of James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II, William III, Queen Mary, Queen Anne, George, Prince of Denmark, Prince Rupert, Archbishop Laud, Theodore Randue, Esq., The Earl of Nottingham, Lord Admiral in the year 1688, Governor of Windsor Castle, and High Steward of the Borough, etc. In 1707, the Corporation, from their regard to Queen Anne, who constantly resided at Windsor during the summer season, erected in a niche at the north end of this structure, the statue of that princess, vested in her royal robes, with the globe sceptre in her hands. Underneath, in the frieze of the entablature, is the following inscription in letters of gold. [View picture of Queen Anne Statue]
And in a niche on the south side, is the statue of Her Majesty's royal consort, Prince George of Denmark, in a Roman military habit. [View picture of Prince George Statue]
Underneath is the following inscription:
In the area under the hall, is kept a market on Saturdays; and three fairs, on Easter Tuesday, July 5th and October 24th. These are become very inconsiderable, since their Majesties have resided so much here; who by their benevolent diffusion of their favours have excited a spirit of industry and emulation in the different tradesmen, who vie with each other in the improvement of their shops, and in the quality and cheapness of their various commodities; so that most of the necessaries, with many of the superfluities of life, may be purchased here on as eligible terms as at the first shops in the metropolis.
The parish church, which is commodiously situated on the East side of the High Street, is a spacious ancient ill-built fabric, the pews being so constructed and appropriated, as to exclude a majority of the inhabitants from attending Divine Service. However it is to be wished, as His Majesty has been graciously pleased to present the parish with the organ, removed from St. George's Chapel, they will approve themselves worthy of the royal benefaction, by adopting such measures as shall most eligible to remove the general complaint already intimated. It has a ring of eight bells, two of which were given by Lord Marsham, Cofferer to Queen Ann, who also recast the other six. The benefice is in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and has been lately augmented by his present Majesty.
On the north side of the churchyard, was erected in the year 1706, a neat edifice for a free-school, for thirty boys and twenty girls, who are clothed and taught writing, accounts, and the principles of the Christian religion. Besides this charitable institution, there are several small almshouses in different parts of the town, which, with the benefactions left by well-disposed persons, for the use of the poor, make them less burthensome in this, than in most other places.
In 1784, Col. Trigg, of the 12th Regiment, which was then on duty at Windsor, having represented to His Majesty the very great inconvenience the sick soldiers suffered in their quarters, as well as the impropriety of continuing them in the same apartments with the more healthy, His Majesty was pleased to signify his gracious intention to build an hospital for their accommodation; upon which the corporation presented him with a piece of land, called Glaziers Corner, situated on the East side of the Long Walk, about a mile from the town. The building was immediately begun, and finished by the latter end of the same year; it consists of two large wards, that will contain upwards of twenty men each; apartments for the doctor, and nurse; a surgery, kitchen and laundry; all well adapted for their several purposes.
In the summer of 1793, a small but elegant and commodius Theatre was erected by Mr. Bowen, at the expense of Dr. Thornton, the manager, who performs under a licence from the Lord Chamberlain, restricting the time of performing to the Eton vacations; viz. from the middle of December to the latter end of January, and from the last Monday in July to the end of September. With the permission of the magistrates of Windsor, and that of the Provost and Master of Eton School it has been usual for them to perform during the Ascot Races, which custom, we presume, will be continued. The Theatre and the public have been highly honoured, by the frequent visits of Their Majesties; and the Manager cannot but feel the most grateful sensations of the Royal Patronage, with which he has been so peculiarly honoured.
The system which had been adopted by Administration, partly to relieve the publicans from their burthen of quartering soldiers; and partly to concentrate the military force, was carried into effect at Windsor, in 1795, by the erection of handsome and commodious barracks for the accommodation of 1000 infantry. These are situated in Sheet Street, where there is also another building, but of a more temporary nature, for 100 cavalry.
1 The Town of Windsor