As of the August 8th 2020 until September, weekend visitors to Windsor Castle will have the pleasure of enjoying the splendour of the East Terrace and Gardens which have been opened to the public for the first time since the 1970’s.
These beautiful gardens have had numerous purposes over the centuries and have been opened to the general public on occasion over the years. However, this hasn’t always been the case.
From the 1670’s, Charles II used the grounds In front of the east side of the castle as a bowling green.
Architect and garden landscape designer, Sir Jeffry Wyatville, was originally commissioned by King George IV to design and create the gardens for his own personal use in the early 1820’s, which was completed in 1826.
George was able to enjoy the views from his new suite of royal apartments which are described as sitting ”along the east front of the Castle’’. However, William IV, George’s brother and successor, made the decision to grant public access to the gardens during the 19th century.
Later in the 19th century, Prince Albert was especially fond of the gardens. Queen Victoria spoke of this in her diary: “Albert is daily occupied…in superintending the planting of the garden in the inside of the Terrace. The plots were before so scrubby & scraggy, but are now being very nicely arranged with laurustinus, bays, &c.”
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert enjoyed many a Christmas at Windsor Castle – twenty in total. It became tradition for a band to play outside their royal apartments on the east terrace each New Year’s Day morning during this time.
During World War II, part of the gardens were transformed into vegetable allotments. Princesses Elizabeth Margaret tended to their own section of the allotment, growing vegetables such as dwarf beans and tomatoes.
Once the war had ended, the allotments were transformed back in to flowerbeds.
The East Terrace garden as it is now was redesigned by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1971 and boasts a ‘bronze lotus fountain’ which he commissioned as the main focal point.
For many years, the royal family have favoured the East Garden as the setting for official portraits including a photograph of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh taken by Lord Lichfield in 1997 and a portrait of Her Majesty by Annie Leibovitz marking her 90th birthday in 2016.