12:30PM, Wednesday 03 June 2015
Perhaps it's no surprise that a town with as rich a history as Windsor is linked with so many wild historical rumours. Whether it's the supposed secret tunnels linking Windsor Castle to the High Street's Crooked House or rumours of ghouls haunting the Great Park, there really is a tale for everyone. We take a look at five of the myths of Windsor in an attempt to separate fact from fiction.
A crooked tunnel?
Fanciful rumours suggest a secret tunnel ran underground from within the Windsor Castle walls to the Crooked House of Windsor, originally built in 1592. Perhaps this was for a quick escape in times of desperate need, or maybe just to provide a convenient route for ordering in a take-away? But alas, these rumours are false, as confirmed by Windsor historian Dr David Lewis.
“It’s rubbish, the problem with Windsor is the town records were burnt in the 17th century,” he said.
If you make your way towards the southern end of the Long Walk, you’ll soon see a statue of King George III, named The Copper Horse. Some say the statue’s sculptor killed himself after he forgot to add stirrups to the saddle and has since haunted the Great Park. But not according to Caroline Wagstaff, author of the book Windsor Fun, Facts, History and Legend. “King George IV wanted the statue to be as imposing as possible and modelled it on the Roman statue of Marcus Aurelius, but they didn’t have stirrups in those days,” she said. The sculptor reportedly lived into his 70s.
Ever wondered why the pillars outside Windsor Guildhall don’t touch the ceiling? We did. Rumour has it Sir Christopher Wren built the pillars short as a snub to planners who said they needed to be added to support the building. Not only is this untrue, but Sir Christopher Wren wasn’t even involved in the construction of the old Town Hall.
More construction controversy
It’s another appearance for the Crooked House of Windsor and more building controversy. The question is, just how did this historic property acquire its iconic lean? Some say the Crooked House’s former tenant, butcher Silas Bradbury, designed the building to lean away from the neighbouring Town Hall to show his displeasure with the council after they demolished the building in 1687. However, the more logical explanation is that unseasoned green oak was used to rebuild the Crooked House in 1718, resulting in its peculiar lean.
Nell Gwynn occupies an intriguing position in the record books as she is widely known as one of history’s most famous mistresses. The former lover of King Charles II is said to have lived in Church Street, with restaurants nearby dining out on her close links to the area. But myth-buster Carloline said these claims were wide of the mark and told the Express the street used to be called Fish Street and was primarily used for preparing fish.
Caroline said: “If you were Charles II, would you want your fancy woman surrounded by fish guts?”
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