Chapel

St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, Castle Hill, Windsor SL4 1NJ

Save
 to profile
Save
 to profile
St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

St George’s Chapel was a medieval pilgrimage destination, and WindsorCastle today welcomes devotional visitors alongside numerous tourists

The chapel at the heart of Windsor Castle is a fully functioning place of worship, with a daily service at 5:15pm that the public can attend.The official guide even acknowledges the chapel’s attraction to pilgrims, which is more than some churches manage.

Its credentials as a pilgrimage centre rest on three figures whom some consider saints: King Henry VI, King Charles I and John Schorne, a Buckinghamshire vicar who died around 1314.

Highlights:

  • Graves of two saintly kings: Henry VI and Charles I
  • Grave of folk saint John Schorne
  • Chapel dedicated to England’s patron

King Charles has a unique place in English church history – never mind political history. He is considered to be the only saint canonised by the Anglican church. Though the Church of England lacks a formal process for recognising saints, he was declared a martyr and added to the church calendar by order of the archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1660, following the Restoration of the monarchy. He is commemorated on the date of his death, 30 January 1649.

The claim of martyrdom is reasonable enough, since the English Civil War was partly fought over the divine right of kings and the governance of the church. On the morning of his execution King Charles wore two shirts so that the crowd would not see him shiver, and said he was going from a “corruptible to an incorruptible crown”.

There is an Anglican organisation set up to promote the legacy of the king, called the Society of King Charles the Martyr (see website at www.skcm.org). The king was particularly keen that England should not drift too far from Catholic practice. He was told he could live if he agreed to make the church Presbyterian – in other words replace all bishops with an elected council of elders – along the lines of the Scottish church.

The king refused. This would have broken Apostolic Succession, the process whereby each bishop is ordained by a previous bishop, a direct link all the way back to Christ laying hands on his first Apostles.

Six English churches and chapels have been dedicated to the king. The first was built in Falmouth, Cornwall, in 1662 on the order of his son King Charles II. The burial place of King Charles senior is under a huge black slab in the middle of the choir. It is also the last resting place of King Henry VIII. It would take a very devout mind to approach this tomb as a shrine.

King Henry VI was never formally recognised as a saint by any church. He died in 1471 and his grave was moved to St George’s Chapel in 1484, where it can be seen in the south choir aisle near the high altar. Many considered him a saint however, with miracles reported at his tomb. The medieval money box which still stands alongside received donations from pilgrims, which were used as alms for the poor. The Vatican was considering whether to canonise him when the Reformation took place, which rather put paid to the Pope’s enthusiasm for English kings called Henry.

He is remembered as a devout and kindly soul, though often described as an ineffectual king. It should be remembered that he suffered from severe mental illness and was forced off the throne for nine years while his queen attempted to rule in his stead, during a period of civil unrest, the War of the Roses.

The king disliked bloodshed, and had the first of his major breakdowns when news reached him that Bordeaux had been lost to the French in 1453. He resumed the throne in 1470, but was imprisoned the following year and died in the Tower of London on the night of 21/22 May.Some historians say he was murdered, others that he died of a broken heart after his son was killed in Tewkesbury, fighting to restore his father’s kingdom. His great rival King Edward IV succeeded him – and by coincidence is the monarch who started to build St George’s Chapel in 1475.

The third candidate for sainthood is buried in the Lincoln Chapel in the south-east corner of the church, a few steps on from King Henry’s grave. This is ‘St’ John Schorne, whose holy well and life story are described under North Marston, Buckinghamshire (page 22). The site of his grave was reused for the burial of Edward earl of Lincoln, who died in 1585. The saint is not mentioned in the chapel guide, but one of the stewards found some notes in a ringbinder that claimed his bones are still buried here, beneath the earl’s tomb.

A ceiling boss above the corridor by the Lincoln Chapel shows a Celtic cross. It commemorates a famous relic that was once displayed in the church, a fragment of the True Cross known as the Cross Gneth. The fragment was carried from the Holy Land by a priest called Neotus and originally kept by the Welsh kings, until their defeat by King Edward I. The relic was given to the Windsor chapel in 1348, and destroyed at the Reformation.

Finally there is one more great saint to remember at this chapel: England’s patron St George. He died in Nicomedia (now the city of Izmit in modern-day Turkey) around 303 and had no personal link to Britain. In 1348 King Edward III decided to found a chivalric order and adopted this Roman soldier saint as the country’s patron, replacing St Edward the Confessor. A chivalric order is a company of senior knights who would promote military excellence in the kingdom and swear loyalty to the monarch.

The chapel guide says this royal place of worship is independent and “not under any provincial or diocesan authority”. It almost implies that the church belongs to no Christian denomination, which is bizarre considering the monarch’s role as head of the Church of England. The technical for such a building seems fitting enough: it is a ‘Royal Peculiar’.

Directions

Windsor Castle, Castle Hill, Windsor SL4 1NJ

www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle

W3W: flame.slope.wakes

GPS: 51.4827N 0.6062W

Windsor and Eton Central railway station 400m

Windsor Castle is open to visitors throughout the year, apart from infrequent special events. The chapel is open daily until 4pm, apart from Sundays when worshippers only can attend services.

Opening times are March–October 10am–5:15pm, November–February 10am–4:15pm; last admission is 1¼ hours before closing time.

Tickets cost £23.50 adults, £21.20 concessions, £13.50 children 5–17.

Show more +

Amenities

No items found.

Key facts

1
2
3
4
5
6
/6

Location

Nearby routes

1
2
3
4
5
6
/6

Become a member to reveal contact details

Contact details are available for Giving Pilgrims

Contact details are available only for the Giving Pilgrims

Organiser:

Organiser:

Discover local food

We know that pilgrims get hungry!

Once you have decided on which pilgrimage route you want to walk, we thought you might like to use our Local Food Map.

Learn more

Comments

0 Comments

Login or register to join the conversation.

Be the first to leave a comment.

Tom Jones

Moderator

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

(Edited)
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Tom Jones

Moderator

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

(Edited)
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Chapel

St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, Castle Hill, Windsor SL4 1NJ

Save to profile
Save to profile

Already visited this place?

Rate this place
Rate this place
Get started

All great journeys begin with a single step

Start your journey
668d8b5a3cf92186b04df1f7
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.