Place:Windsor, Berkshire, England

NameWindsor
Alt namesWindesoressource: Domesday Book (1985) p 37
New Windsorsource: wikipedia
TypeTown, Borough
Coordinates51.483°N 0.633°W
Located inBerkshire, England
See alsoWindsor and Maidenhead, Berkshire, Englandborough into which Windsor was merged 1974, became a unitary authority in 1998
Contained Places
Castle
Windsor Castle
Cemetery
Royal Burial Ground
Church
St. George's Chapel
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog


The following section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Windsor is an affluent town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.

The town is situated 21 miles (34 km) west of Charing Cross, London. It is immediately south of the River Thames, which forms its boundary with Eton.

The village of Old Windsor, just over 2 miles (3 km) to the south, predates what is now called Windsor by around 300 years; in the past Windsor was formally referred to as New Windsor to distinguish the two.

New Windsor was part of the Ripplesmere Hundred and the Windsor Poor Law Union.

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The early history of the site is unknown, although the site may have been settled many years before the medieval castle was built as there is ample evidence of Anglo Saxon settlement in the area.[1]

Windsor is first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The name originates from old English Windles-ore, or 'winch by the riverside', a royal settlement, now called Old Windsor, located about from the modern town. Windsor Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman conquest of 1066, a timber motte and bailey structure in the manor of Clewer. It was noted in the Domesday Book as 'Windsor Castle'. Some time after 1086, probably in the reign of King Henry I, the royal household moved upstream to the recently built castle. By 1110, important crown wearings (Great Council of state) were noted as taking place at the castle and King Henry married his second wife there in 1121, after the 'White Ship' disaster. The settlement at Old Windsor largely transferred to this 'New' Windsor during the 12th century, although substantial planning and setting out of the new town (including the parish church, marketplace, bridge and leper hospital) did not take place until c. 1170, following the civil war of Stephen's reign. At about the same time, the present upper ward of the castle was rebuilt in stone. Windsor Bridge is the earliest bridge on the Thames between Staines and Reading, having been built when bridge building was not common. 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, underpinned its success.

The town of New Windsor, as an ancient demesne of the Crown, was a privileged settlement from the start, apparently having the rights of a 'free borough' for which other towns had to pay substantial fees to the king. It had a merchant guild (known by the 14th century as the Fraternity or brotherhood of the Trinity) from the early 13th century and, under royal patronage, was made the chief town of the county later in the same century. Windsor was granted royal borough status by Edward I's charter in 1277. This gave no new rights or privileges to Windsor but, as one historian puts it, "recognised [Windsor's] existence and gave it a legal status as a borough". Importantly, as a self-governing town, it maintained a 'common cheest' paying for improvements to the town from its own resources. The town accounts of the 16th century survive, although most of the once substantial borough archive was destroyed, probably in the late 17th century.


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 (goldsmiths, vintners, spicers and mercers) to the town and provided much employment for townsmen. The development of the castle under Edward III (1350–68), for example, was the largest secular building project in England of the Middle Ages, and many Windsor people worked in the castle on this building project. Henry III, a hundred years earlier, had spent more on Windsor Castle than on any other royal building project, save the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey. The Black Death in 1348, although reducing some towns' populations by up to 50%, seems to have had less of an impact in Windsor. Possibly 30% of the town's population died, but the building projects of Edward III brought many building workers to the town, possibly doubling the population: the Black Death, and the plagues that followed in 1361–72, were a 'boom' time for the local economy. New people came to the town from every part of the country, and from continental Europe, to benefit from royal expenditure at the castle. The poet Geoffrey Chaucer worked at Windsor Castle as 'Clerk of the Works' in 1391.

The development of the castle continued in the 15th century. Windsor became a major pilgrimage destination, particularly for Londoners. Pilgrims came to touch the royal shrine of the murdered Henry VI and the fragment of the True Cross in the new St George's Chapel (1480) and to visit the same king's college at Eton (Eton College), which was dedicated in 1440 to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pilgrims came with substantial sums to spend. There were over 29 inns in Windsor to provide accommodation, some very large. The town became very prosperous. For London pilgrims, Windsor was probably second in importance only to Canterbury and the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. Henry VIII was buried in St George's Chapel in 1547, next to the body of 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 Catholic pilgrims coming to the town. His will gives that impression.

Tudor and Stuart periods

The town began to stagnate about ten years after the Reformation. 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. 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. Shakespeare must have walked the town's streets, near the castle and river, much as people still do. The play may have been written in the Garter Inn, although this was certainly not part of the modern Harte and Garter Hotel opposite the castle. Nell Gwyn's house, Burford House, is located on Church Street and was built in 1640. A tunnel, long since gone, is reported to have been built from this house to the inside of the castle.

Windsor was the home of the New Model Army and the castle was garrisoned by Colonel Venn during the English Civil War. Despite its royal dependence, like many commercial centres, Windsor was a Parliamentarian town. Charles I was buried without ceremony in St George's after his execution at Whitehall in 1649. The present Guildhall, built in 1680, replaced an earlier market hall that had been built on the same site around 1580, as well as the old guildhall, which faced the castle and had been built around 1370. The contraction in the number of public buildings speaks of a town in decline. In 1652 the largest house in Windsor Great Park was builit on land which Oliver Cromwell had appropriated from the Crown. Now known as Cumberland Lodge after the Duke of Cumberland's residence there in the mid 18th century, the house was variously known as Byfield House, New Lodge, Ranger's Lodge, Windsor Lodge and Great Lodge.

Georgian and Victorian periods

In 1778, there was a resumption of the royal presence, with George III at the Queen's Lodge and, from 1804, at the castle. This started a period of new development in Windsor, with the building of two army barracks. However the associated large numbers of soldiers led to a major prostitution problem by 1830 in a town where the number of streets had little changed since 1530. 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. It 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. Unfortunately, excessive redevelopment and 'refurbishment' of Windsor's medieval fabric at this time resulted in widespread destruction of the old town, including the demolition of the old parish church of St John the Baptist in 1820. The original had been built in 1180.

Later periods

Most of the current town's streets date from the mid to late 19th century. However the main street, Peascod Street (pronounced Pes-cod Street) is very ancient, predating the castle by many years. It formed part of the 10th-century parish structure in east Berkshire and in comparison, the 1000 year old royal castle, although the largest and longest occupied in Europe, is a recent development. "New Windsor" was officially renamed "Windsor" in 1974.

Research Tips

Maps

  • GENUKI's collection of maps for Berkshire. For basic reference are the two online maps Berkshire Parishes and Berkshire Poor Law Union areas. These locate the individual parishes and indicate the urban and rural districts to which each belonged. There are many other maps listed, some covering specific parts of the county.
  • Wikipedia's outline map of the unitary authorities, shown on many of their Berkshire pages, shows how the new divisions of government relate to the former districts. It has to be remembered that the county was reshaped in 1974 with the urban and rural districts of Abingdon and Faringdon and part of Wantage going to Oxfordshire, and the Borough of Slough (with Eton) coming in from Buckinghamshire. Every attempt is being made to indicate here in WeRelate the civil parishes, towns and villages for which these transfers occurred. Currently there are maps to be found on place pages that deal with civil parishes that transferred from Buckinghamshire into Berkshire. It is planned to provide maps within WeRelate for places that transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire.
  • The extensive collection provided by Genmaps is provided free of charge online.

Online Historical References

  • Berkshire Record Office. The Berkshire Record Office [BRO] was established in 1948 to locate and preserve records relating to the county of Berkshire and its people, and anyone who is interested in the county's past. As well as original documents, catalogues and indexes, there is a library at the Record Office.
  • Berkshire Family History Society Research Centre. "The Berks FHS Centre can help you - wherever your ancestors came from. There is a Research Centre Library open to all."
  • West Berkshire Museum, Newbury, housed in a building with an interesting past, but is currently closed for redevelopment. No information on their collections.
  • The GENUKI provision for Berkshire has been updated more recently than that for some of the other counties. A member of the Berkshire Family History Society is credited with this revision.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki on Berkshire explains the jurisdictions relating to civil affairs, parishes and probate (wills and testaments) for each parish in the county and also outlines when these jurisdictions were in existence. Alterations required to cover the post-1974 period have not been carried out for every parish concerned.
  • The Berkshire section of The Victoria History of the Counties of England, in four volumes, is online and provides an extensive history of the county, parish by parish, up to the end of the 19th century. Parishes are arranged in their original "hundreds", a fairly archaic scheme of dividing counties into reasonably sized sections.
  • Local History Online is a compilation of websites from Berkshire local history clubs, societies and associations.

Nineteenth Century Local Administration

English Jurisdictions is a webpage provided by FamilySearch which analyses every ecclesiastical parish in England at the year 1851. It provides, with the aid of outline maps, the date at which parish records and bishops transcripts begin, non-conformist denominations with a chapel within the parish, the names of the jurisdictions in charge: county, civil registration district, probate court, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, church province; and links to FamilySearch historical records, FamilySearch Catalog and the FamilySearch Wiki. Two limitations: only England, and at the year 1851.

During the 19th century two bodies, the Poor Law Union and the Sanitary District, had responsibility for governmental functions at a level immediately above that covered by the civil parish. In 1894 these were replace by Rural and Urban Districts. These were elected bodies, responsible for setting local property assessments and taxes as well as for carrying out their specified duties. Thses districts continued in operation until 1974. Urban districts for larger municipalities were called "Municipal Boroughs" and had additional powers and obligations.

Poor Law Unions, established nationally in 1834, combined parishes together for the purpose of providing relief for the needy who had no family support. This led to the building of '"union poorhouses" or "workhouses" funded by all the parishes in the union. The geographical boundaries established for the individual Poor Law Unions were employed again when Registration Districts were formed three years later. In 1875 Sanitary Districts were formed to provide services such as clean water supply, sewage systems, street cleaning, and the clearance of slum housing. These also tended to follow the same geographical boundaries, although there were local alterations caused by changes in population distribution.

Windsor, Berkshire in A Vision of Britain Through Time


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Windsor, Berkshire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.