St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

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St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
The Queen's Free Chapel of the College of St. George, Windsor Castle
St. Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle (2).jpg
51°29′02″N 0°36′24″W / 51.48376°N 0.60678°W / 51.48376; -0.60678Coordinates: 51°29′02″N 0°36′24″W / 51.48376°N 0.60678°W / 51.48376; -0.60678
DenominationChurch of England
Previous denominationRoman Catholicism
DedicationSt. George
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationGrade I listed
Years built1475
DeaneryDean and Canons of Windsor
DioceseJurisdiction: Royal Peculiar
Location: Oxford
DeanDavid Conner
PrecentorMartin Poll (Chaplain)
Canon(s)Mark Powell (Steward)
Canon TreasurerHueston Finlay (Vice-Dean)
Organist/Director of musicJames Vivian
Music group(s)Choir of St George's Chapel

St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in England is a chapel built in high-medieval Gothic style. It is both a Royal Peculiar, a church under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, and the Chapel of the Order of the Garter. It is located in the Lower Ward of the castle.[1] St. George's castle chapel was originally founded in the 14th century by King Edward III and extensively enlarged in the late 15th century. It has been the scene of many royal services, weddings and burials. Windsor, England's premier castle, is the principal residence of the monarch.

The running of the Chapel is the responsibility of the dean and canons of Windsor who make up the College of St. George. They are assisted by a Clerk, Verger and other staff. The Society of the Friends of St George's and Descendants of the Knights of the Garter, a registered charity, was established in 1931 to assist the College in maintaining the Chapel.


St. George's Chapel (left) at Windsor Castle in 1848, showing the absence of the Queen's Beasts on the pinnacles (since replaced).

In 1348, King Edward III founded two religious colleges: St Stephen's at Westminster and St. George's at Windsor. The new college at Windsor was attached to the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor which had been constructed by Henry III in the early thirteenth century. The chapel was then re-dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, George the Martyr and Edward the Confessor, but soon became known only by its dedication to St. George.[2] Edward III also built the Aerary Porch in 1353–54. It was used as the entrance to the new college.

The Choir of St. George's Chapel, by Charles Wild, from W.H. Pyne's Royal Residences, 1818.

St. George's Chapel became the church of the Order of the Garter. A special service is still held in the chapel every June and is attended by members of the order. Their heraldic banners hang above the upper stalls of the choir, where they have a seat for life.

A close-up photograph of a building made with black timbers and red brick. The building has four tall, brick chimneys. A relatively modern drainpipe comes down the middle of the building.
The Horseshoe Cloister, built in 1480 and reconstructed in the 19th century

The period 1475–1528 saw a radical redevelopment of St. George's Chapel set in motion by Edward IV and continued by Henry VII under the supervision of his most esteemed counsellor, Sir Reginald Bray (later Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), and by Henry VIII. The thirteenth-century Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor was enlarged into a cathedral-like space under the direction of Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, and the master mason, Henry Janyns. The Horseshoe Cloister was constructed for the new community of 45 junior members: 16 vicars, a deacon gospeller, 13 lay clerks, 2 clerk epistolers and 13 choristers. The Choir of St. George's Chapel continues to this day and numbers 20. The choristers are borders at St George's School, Windsor Castle. In term time they attend practice in the chapel every morning and sing Matins and the Eucharist on Sundays and Evensong throughout the week, except on Wednesdays.

St. George's Chapel was a popular destination for pilgrims during the late medieval period, as it was considered to contain several important burials: the bodies of John Schorne and Henry VI and a fragment of the True Cross held in a reliquary called the Cross of Gneth.[citation needed] It was seized from the Welsh people by Edward II after his conquest along with other sacred relics. These relics all appear to have been displayed at the eastern end of the south choir.

The Chapel suffered a great deal of destruction during the English Civil War. Parliamentary forces broke into and plundered the chapel and treasury on 23 October 1642. Further pillage occurred in 1643 when the fifteenth-century chapter house was destroyed, lead was stripped off the chapel roofs, and elements of Henry VIII's unfinished funeral monument were stolen. Following his execution in 1649, Charles I was buried in a small vault in the centre of the choir at St. George's Chapel which also contained the coffins of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. A programme of repair was undertaken at St. George's Chapel after the Restoration.

During his life and reign, King George III was responsible for reigniting royal interest in Windsor Castle, which had been much overlooked after the House of Hanover came to the throne of the United Kingdom in 1714. On 12 August 1776 the Royal Family first attended the Sunday morning service at St George’s Chapel – which they called “the Cathedral”. George III was committed to St George’s Chapel; he inspired and in large part funded an extensive restoration of the Chapel from 1780-1790.

The reign of Queen Victoria saw further changes made to the structure of the chapel. The east end of the choir was reworked in memory of Prince Albert. The Lady Chapel, which had been abandoned by Henry VII, was completed. A royal mausoleum was completed underneath the Lady Chapel. A set of steps was built at the west end of the chapel to create a ceremonial entrance to the building.

By the early twentieth century, the bowing walls, cracked vaulting, decayed stone and stripped lead required urgent attention. In 1920 a much needed ten-year restoration project began at George’s Chapel, overseen by the consulting architect Sir Harold Brakspear.

In the 21st century, St. George's accommodates approximately 800 people for services and events.[1]

St. George's Chapel in the Lower Ward at right

Queen's Beasts[edit]

The Queen's Beasts shown atop the pinnacles

On the roof of the chapel, standing on the pinnacles, and also on pinnacles at the sides, are seventy-six heraldic statues representing the Queen's Beasts, showing the Royal supporters of England. They represent fourteen of the heraldic animals: the lion of England, the red dragon of Wales, the panther of Jane Seymour, the falcon of York, the black bull of Clarence, the yale of Beaufort, the white lion of Mortimer, the greyhound of Richmond, the white hart of Richard II, the collared silver antelope of Bohun, the black dragon of Ulster, the white swan of Hereford, the unicorn of Edward III and the golden hind of Kent.[3]

The original beasts dated from the sixteenth century, but were removed in 1682 on the advice of Sir Christopher Wren. Wren had criticised the Reigate stone, the calcareous sandstone from which they were constructed. The present statues date from 1925 when the chapel was restored.[4][5]

Dean and Canons[edit]

Order of the Garter[edit]

Garter Service[edit]

Emblem of the Order of the Garter

Members of the Order of the Garter meet at Windsor Castle every June for the annual Garter Service. After lunch in the State Apartments (Upper Ward of the Castle), they process on foot in their robes and insignia, down to St. George's Chapel for the service. If new members are to be admitted, they are installed at the service. After the service, the members of the order return to the Upper Ward by carriage or car.

Members of the public outside St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, waiting for the Garter Procession

The Order frequently attended chapel services in the distant past, however they tailed off in the 18th century and were finally discontinued in 1805. The Garter Service was revived in 1948 by King George VI for the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Order and has since become an annual event.


Interior of the chapel

After their installation, members are each assigned a stall in the chapel choir above which his or her heraldic devices are displayed.

A member's sword is placed beneath a helmet which is decorated with a mantling and topped with a crest, coronet or crown. Above this, a member's heraldic banner is hoisted emblazoned with his arms. A Garter stall plate, a small elaborately enamelled plate of brass, is affixed to the back of the stall displaying its member's name and arms with other inscriptions.

On a member's death, the sword, helmet, mantling, crest, coronet or crown, and banner are removed. A service marking the death of a late member must be held before the stall can be assigned to anyone else. The ceremony takes place in the chapel, during which the Military Knights of Windsor carry the banner of the deceased member and offer it to the Dean of Windsor, who places it on the altar.

The stall plates, however, are not removed. They remain permanently affixed to the stall, so the stalls of the chapel are emblazoned with a collection of plates of the members throughout history.


Fan vaulting of the Choir of St George's Chapel, with the Garter banners on either side below.

St George's Chapel is among the most important medieval chantry foundations to have survived in England. The college was itself part of a medieval chantry, and there are a number of other chantry elements in the form of altars and small chapels in memory of various English monarchs and of a number of prominent courtiers, deans and canons. Special services and prayers would also be offered in memory of the founder. Henry VIII had originally intended another chantry to be set up in the chapel, despite the fact that his ecclesiastical changes led to the Reformation in England and the eventual suppression of chantries.

The much-admired iron gates in the sanctuary of the chapel as well as the locks on the doors of the chapel are the work of the medieval Cornish metalsmith John Tresilian.[6] The status of the college as a royal foundation saved it from dissolution at the Reformation. As a result, many of the smaller chantries within the chapel were preserved. These are the only remaining chantries of their kind in England which have never been suppressed.

Rutland Chantry[edit]

Monumental brass in St Leger Chantry to Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter (1439–1476) and her second husband Thomas St Leger (c.1440–1483), founder of the chapel

The Rutland Chantry chapel, forming the northern transept of St George's Chapel, was founded in 1491 in honour of Sir Thomas St Leger (c.1440–1483) and Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter (1439–1476).[7] Sir Thomas was Anne's second husband. She was the eldest surviving daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and thus elder sister of kings Edward IV (1442–1483, reigned 1461–1483) and Richard III (1452–1485, reigned 1483–1485). A monumental brass in memory of Anne of York and Sir Thomas survives on the east wall of the Rutland Chantry, the inscription of which records that the chantry was founded "with two priests singing forevermore":

"Wythin thys Chappell lyethe beryed Anne Duchess of Exetur suster unto the noble kyng Edward the forte. And also the body of syr Thomas Sellynger knyght her husband which hathe funde within thys College a Chauntre with too prestys sy’gyng for ev’more. On whose soule god have mercy. The wych Anne duchess dyed in the yere of oure lorde M Thowsande CCCCl xxv"

The chantry received its current name in honour of the earls of Rutland, descendants of Anne and Sir Thomas, their daughter, also Anne, married to George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros and their son, Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland. The tomb of George and Anne Manners is a prominent feature of the chantry. Their effigies are carved in English alabaster.[7]

The chantry comprises five panels which represent the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Temptations of Christ in the wilderness and the Miracle at Cana. They were commissioned from embroiderer Beryl Dean and took five years to complete. Only one panel is normally on display to the public, but the others may be seen on request.[8]


Wedding of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, 1863

The chapel has been the site of many royal weddings, particularly of the children of Queen Victoria. They have included:


The chapel has been the site of many royal funerals and interments. People interred in the Chapel include:



  • Jane Seymour, Queen of England, in 1537
  • Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland, in 1547
  • Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, in 1649
  • Stillborn son of Queen Anne (last monarch of the House of Stuart), in 1698.

Royal Vault[edit]

Near West Door[edit]

King George VI Memorial Chapel[edit]

Albert Memorial Chapel[edit]

Gloucester Vault[edit]


The bones of Saint George are buried in his tomb (sarcophagus) in the Church of Saint George, Lod, Israel.

Accurate Burial Portrait of Saint George by Bones

A portrait of Saint George on the stone wall next to his stone sarcophagus in his tomb in the Church of Saint George in Lod, Israel - where his bones are buried. The portrait is close to photorealism for an artwork created at that time.

This portrait is a depiction of Saint George, and is only a few feet away from where the bones of Saint George are buried in the Church of Saint George in Lod, Israel. It is a mosaic that is as close to a photorealistic mosaic artwork as anyone can find for artwork created at the time that Saint George was alive. The background is overlaid with gold, as was fitting at the time for emperors, kings, and ridiculously wealthy patrons who donated significantly vast sums of money to the church in order to keep it going. The portrait depicts a brown-haired Saint George with a halo of light, as was fitting for a holy person or a saint at the time. He is shown to be wearing a white pearl and gold crown (or diadem) on his head, which was absolutely fitting for the historical kings and queens of Egypt such as Queen Cleopatra of Egypt - who was described in multiple Roman historical accounts as a woman who wore a white diadem on her head frequently as a Queen of Egypt. Romans had an astonishing pearl craze during the first century in the fashions of the wealthy, with women sewing so many pearls to their gowns that they actually walked on pearl-encrusted hems, which is also seen at the neckline hem of Saint George in this mosaic portrait, as well as on one of his belts (as a side note Roman Emperor Caligula loved pearls so much he put a pearl necklace on his horse after he made it a consul). Previously in history the Emperor of Rome Julius Caesar banned women below a certain rank from wearing pearls, and pearls were worn almost exclusively by royalty, the highest nobles, and the extremely wealthy - to the point that when the Roman general Vitellius sold one of his mother's pearl earrings he was able to use the money to finance an entire military campaign and he won the battle. "The value of a pearl necklace was considered to be higher than any other piece of jewelry in the world," at the time since this was at least 1,100 years before the development of the cultured Akoya pearls. This beautiful mosaic portrait of Saint George shows him wearing a white patrashel, which is a still worn today in Coptic churches (as well as in other Orthodox churches all over the world) by second order deacons called the Readers. Saint George is depicted in this photorealistic mosaic portrait as wearing a red cape, which is historically what kings in the Middle East and Europe wore as a symbol of authority. The portrait depicts Saint George wearing armor, which looks remarkably like the Roman Crocodile-Skin Suit of Armour on display in the British Museum. This mosaic portrait of Saint George depicts Saint George wearing a rounded Roman shield on his back that is consistent with the design of a Roman shield type called the clipeus, and resembles the pattern on the 'Clipeus of Iupiter-Ammon, conserved at the Museu Nacional Arqueologic de Tarragonia.' In his left hand Saint George is depicted holding a javelin for throwing or a Roman spear, and typically in Roman times a throwing javelin was held in the dominant hand with the shield held over the non-dominant side shoulder, and indicating that Saint George may have been left-handed. The portrait depicts Saint George standing on a lush, dark green, flat field, with a background of lighter green grass adding the illusion of depth to the picture. At Saint George's left hip is the top part of an ancient Armenian archer quiver and ancient Roman archer quiver, which was worn at the waist with the metal arrow tips facing the outside, as seen at the website In the mosaic portrait Saint George is depicted as holding something in his right hand, and it is probably part of his bow for archery [need reference]. Saint George was one of the top generals of the ancient Roman empire. In the mosaic portrait Saint George is depicted as wearing leg guard armor called greaves or ocreae, with a golden band below his knees, in order to protect his shins and tibia from dagger or sword attacks. In the mosaic portrait Saint George is depicted wearing long decorated sleeves, and a very decorated, colorful lower section blue and gold-edged garment - which would have been very expensive at the time - even though the vast majority of ancient romans were depicted wearing short sleeves if any sleeves at all and solid colored chitons.

"St George was born in 280 AD in Cappadocia, Asia Minor. St George's father was martyred for being a Christian, when our saint was nearly 17 years old. Our saint grew up with a lot of faith and love in God. After the martyrdom of our saints father his mother had an aim to see her son grow stronger in the faith, through good deeds, and virtue. St George had joined the Roman Army at 17, & gained many victories, he also had the rank of Tribune. St George lost his mother when he was nearly 20. From then on our Saint abandoned the pleasures of this world, and distributed his possessions among the poor, & set his slaves and maidservants free.

  The Emperor Diocletian, was ruler of the Roman Empire at the time, and he had just sent an edict to destroy the churches, burn all Christian books, dismiss Christians from their jobs, take all their possessions, make most of them slaves, and make them offer sacrifices, & burn incense to the Roman gods. 
  St George was at Alexandria at the time when he saw the edict he read it and tore it up, the roman soldiers then took him to Cappadocia to receive punishment. As our Saint had great favour with the emperor the ruler of Cappadocia transferred the matter to Diocletian. Our saint then confessed to the Emperor the true Christian faith. The Emperor jailed our saint, and then sent a lady to try to seduce him, but instead our saint converted her to the faith, hearing this the Emperor ordered her beheading & she received the crown of martydom. The emperor then stretched our saints arms and legs with chains, & placed a huge stone on his chest, then they pulled the saint over iron spikes till his flesh was torn etc.., they also passed flames over his body to burn his wounds, & spread salt over the wounds to increase the pain. When he was put back in his cell the Lord appeared to him, embraced him, and strengthened him. 
   St George also experienced many more tortures for 7 years, many people were also converted to Christianity because of the many miracles which they bore witness to. At one time St George raised a dead man by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ and many more believed, and so many more were martyred. In the end when our saint was beheaded, the heathen Roman Emperor Diocletian died a terrible death. 

May his prayers be with us all, and glory be to God forever. Amen." -

In literature[edit]

  • Wenceslaus Hollar. View and Ground Plan of St. George's Chapel, Windsor ca. 1671.[13][14][15]
  • John Henry Le Keux. St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Ground Plan 1810. Engraved after a plan by F. Mackenzie, published in Britton's Architectural antiquities of Great Britain, 1807. Copper-engraved antique plan.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Harry and Meghan to wed at Windsor in May". BBC News. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  2. ^ P H Ditchfield; William Page, eds. (1907). "Collegiate churches: Windsor (St George's chapel)". A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2. Victoria County History. p. 106.
  3. ^ "Windsor Royal Beasts on St George's Chapel roof". Wordpress. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  4. ^ London, H. Stanford (1953). “The” Queen's Beasts: An Account with New Drawings of the Heraldic Animals Witch Stood at the Entrance to Westminster Abbey on the Occasion of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II., 2. June 1953. Newman Neame. p. 15.
  5. ^ "Sir Frederick Minter". The Times. 15 July 1976. p. 19.
  6. ^ Blackburne, Harry W. (2008). The Romance of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Wildside Press. pp. 14–. ISBN 978-1-4344-7428-5.
  7. ^ a b Eleanor Cracknell (15 July 2011). "The Rutland Chantry". College of St George. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Beryl Dean Panels". College of St George. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  9. ^ Yeginsu, Ceylan (2 March 2018). "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Invite Members of Public to Wedding Day". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Royal Burials in the Chapel since 1805". College of St George. 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Royal Burials in the Chapel by location". College of St George. 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  12. ^ "The Roos Monument in the Rutland Chantry Chapel". College of St George. 10 September 2010.
  13. ^ "View and Ground Plan of St. George's Chapel, Windsor - Wenceslaus Hollar". 21 June 2016.
  14. ^ "View and Ground Plan of St. George's Chapel, Windsor - Wenceslaus Hollar". 8 May 2015.
  15. ^ "View and Ground Plan of St. George's Chapel, Windsor - Wenceslaus Hollar". 21 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Picture" (JPG).
  17. ^ "Free stock images for genealogy and ancestry researchers".

External links[edit]