Royal Windsor, Berkshire - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Windsor is a historic market town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire. It is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.
Windlesora is first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The name originates from old English Windles-ore or winch by the riverside.
By 1110, meetings of the Great Council, which had previously taken place at Windlesora, were noted as taking place at the Castle
Windsor Bridge is the earliest bridge on the Thames between Staines and Reading, built at a time when bridge building was rare; it was first documented in 1191, but had probably been built, according to the Pipe rolls, in 1173. It played an important part in the national road system, linking London with Reading and Winchester, but also, by diverting traffic into the new town, it underpinned the success of its fledgling economy.
New Windsor was a nationally significant town in the Middle Ages, certainly one of the fifty wealthiest towns in the country by 1332. Its prosperity came from its close association with the royal household. The repeated investment in the castle brought London merchants to the town in the late 13th century and provided much employment for townsmen. The development of the castle under Edward III, between 1350–68, was the largest secular building project in England of the Middle Ages, and many Windsor people worked on this project, again bringing great wealth to the town. Although the Black Death in 1348 had reduced some towns' populations by up to 50%, in Windsor the building projects of Edward III brought money to the town, and possibly its population doubled: this was a 'boom' time for the local economy. People came to the town from every part of the country, and from continental Europe.
With the closures of the Reformation, however, Windsor's pilgrim traffic died out, and the town began to stagnate about ten years afterwards. The castle was considered old-fashioned and shrines to the dead were thought to be superstitious. The early modern period formed a stark contrast to the medieval history of the town. Henry VIII was buried in St George's Chapel in 1547, next to Jane Seymour, the mother of his only legitimate son, Edward (Edward VI). Henry, the founder of the Church of England, may have wanted to benefit from the stream of pilgrims coming to the town.
Most accounts of Windsor in the 16th and 17th centuries talk of its poverty, badly made streets and poor housing. Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor is set in Windsor and contains many references to parts of the town and the surrounding countryside.
The substantial redevelopment of the castle in the subsequent decade and Queen Victoria's residence from 1840, as well as the coming of two railways in 1849, signalled the most dramatic changes in the town's history. These events catapulted the town from a sleepy medieval has-been to the centre of empire – many European crowned heads of state came to Windsor to visit the Queen throughout the rest of the 19th century.