The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, October 23, 2021

George IV's entrance hall at Windsor Castle revealed to visitors for the first time in 150 years
George IV's Inner Hall. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.

LONDON.- Windsor Castle’s Inner Hall, created by George IV in the 1820s as a space to receive official guests, has been restored and opened to the public. Now, for the first time since its closure by George’s niece, Queen Victoria, the Inner Hall serves its original purpose as a magnificent welcome area for visitors to the Castle.

The opening of the Inner Hall reinstates the sequence of spaces linking the visitor entrance on the North Terrace with the State Entrance on the south side and the uninterrupted view across the ground floor of the Castle. From the Inner Hall, visitors can explore the State Apartments and Semi-State Rooms, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and the State Entrance hall, which is also a new addition to the visitor route. From here, for the first time, visitors can see the State Entrance, where guests of Her Majesty The Queen are welcomed to Windsor, and enjoy the spectacular view of the two-and-a-half mile Long Walk, created by Charles II in the 1680s.

Queen Victoria made use of the Inner Hall for almost 30 years, but in 1866 she instructed her architect Anthony Salvin to close it off and build a new, smaller State Entrance hall running east to west. At the same time, the direction of the Grand Staircase was reversed so that the stair could be reached from the State Entrance hall. In December 1867, Victoria recorded in her journal that she was dissatisfied with the work: ‘Went…to look at the alterations being made in the Grand Staircase & State Entrance which I think dreadful! They will have to be altered again.’ However, no further significant changes were made. For many years, the Inner Hall was used as a storeroom, and in 1965 part of it was made into a temporary display space.

To restore the architectural details of the Inner Hall, layers of paint were removed to reveal the intricate design of the ceiling bosses. These are the work of Francis Bernasconi, the most fashionable stuccoist of the Regency period, who worked at Windsor during the reigns of both George III and George IV.

The Inner Hall is within an area of the Castle that dates back to the mid-14th century, when Edward III turned Windsor from a military fortification into a Gothic palace. Adjacent to the Inner Hall is a new display of architectural fragments, found by the architect Jeffry Wyatville during his renovations at Windsor in the 1820s. The pieces of stone are believed to be remnants of the buildings constructed around 1110 by Henry I, who established the Castle as a royal residence.

The opening of the Inner Hall and the creation of the new route through to the State Entrance hall are part of Future Programme, a series of projects funded by Royal Collection Trust to enhance the visitor experience at Windsor Castle. Another recent addition to the visitor route is a display telling the story of the Castle’s 1,000-year history. Next year will see the opening of a dedicated Learning Centre and the Castle’s first permanent café in the medieval Undercroft.

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