Windsor Castle to open East Terrace Garden for first time in 40 years

Windsor Castle East Terrace Garden
Windsor Castle East Terrace Garden

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

From 8 August, the East Terrace Garden at Windsor Castle, created by George IV in the 1820s, will open to visitors for the first time in more than 40 years.

The large formal garden, overlooked by Windsor Castle’s famous east facade, features clipped domes of yew an beds of 3,500 rose bushes planted in a geometric pattern around a central fountain. On weekends in August and September, visitors with tickets to Windsor Castle will be able to explore the garden and enjoy the view from its terraces across the surrounding area.

The East Terrace Garden was first designed for George IV by architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville to provide a pleasant view from the King’s new suite of royal apartments along the east front of the Castle. Plans were specially imported for the new scheme, including 34 orange trees sent by the French King, Charles X. Statues were brought from the Privy Gardens at Hampton Court, including a set of four bronze figures by Hubert Le Seuer, made for Charles I in the 1630s and which remain in the garden today.

Windsor Castle East Terrace Rose Garden

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

In the 19th century Prince Albert took particular interest in the garden’s planting scheme, and during their 20 Christmases spent at Windsor, Victoria and Albert would be woken each New Year’s morning by a band playing from the East Terrace beneath the royal apartments.

The garden has been open to the public intermittently over the centuries. While George IV sought total privacy there, public access was granted by his brother William IV which continued throughout the 19th century. In the early 20th century, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra held large garden parties there each summer.

During the Second World War, some of the flowerbed were repurposed as allotments to grow vegetables. The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Princess Margaret were each assigned a small plot on which to cultivate tomatoes, sweetcorn and dwarf beans. After the War, the planting scheme was simplified into the pattern of formal rose beds seen today. In 1971, The Duke of Edinburgh redesigned the flowerbeds and commissioned a new bronze lotus fountain based on his own design for the centre of the garden.

Windsor Castle Moat Garden

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

In addition to the weekend openings of the East Terrace Garden, on Thursdays and Fridays throughout August visitors with young children will be given special access to the Castle’s Moat Garden beneath the iconic Round Tower. This secluded informal garden is thought to date from the reign of Edward III, and its is believed that Geoffrey Chaucer used it first as the setting for The Knight’s Tale, the first story from The Canterbury Tales. Visitors to the Moat Garden will be able to join guided walks, take part in family art activities, relax with a picnic on the lawn and climb the Castle motte for magnificent views of the surrounding area.

Windsor Castle is open from Thursdays to Mondays, and tickets must be booked in advanced via the website.