Windsor Castle Connection

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The following brief reference appears in the printed Calendar of Patent Rolls:"1352: May 9th: John de Glemesford & two others are appointed to select from Berkshire, Bucks., and Wiltshire, carpenters and sawyers to work on Windsor Castle". If any are "rebellious", they have power to arrest them and put them in gaol. The "History of the Kings' Works" is a 7 volume work giving details of all work carried out on royal castles over many centuries. Work from 1350 was mainly on St George's Chapel and its surrounds. Work on the stalls was carried out, the roof was completed and a pew made for the queen. Lodgings for 25 clergy were constructed to the south of the chapel and at right-angles thereto, beginning in 1352, and being contracted to 3 carpenters, John de Glemysford, Simon Hurle and John Dunstaple, at a total cost of £107 6s 8d. These houses were plastered in 1354, so appear to have neared completion by then.

Another interesting point to come to light was that there had been a former royal residence about 5 miles south of the present castle, built in 1244 when the park was created - this being the nucleus of the present Great Park. A survey of 1329 lists the many defects in the building, and between 1394 and 1396 a total of £1 164 was spent on repairs. A new drawbridge was constructed by one Robert de Glemsford, carpenter. Was he a relation, or descendant, of John one wonders? Another employee was John Goldyng, a master carpenter. He was employed from 1426 to his death in 1451. The accounts of the Clerk of the Works from 1351 to 1356 have been transcribed in full in Hope's "Architectural History of Windsor Castle" and if and when I obtain this, perhaps I will be able to give more details of the work carried out by our men of Glemsford. Do these houses still exist? A visit to Windsor would obviously be profitable!

More about John de Glemsford's work at Windsor Castle

by Eileen Lynch

The alterations to the Chapel of St Edward and St George commenced in 1350 and the accounts of Richard Rothley, surveyor of the King's Works, are translated from entries on the Pipe Rolls in the Public Record Office. From these we learn that John Dunstaple, Simon Hurle, John Glemesford and 10 others were employed there "both on the works of the stalls of the chapel and the repair of "del trasour" (probably the tracery, as a footnote adds that this was the drawing office of the master mason) there for the same time, to each of them 6d a day, namely for six days £1.19. 0. (3/- each). "The chapel was being altered to accommodate the Knights of the Garter and the foundation of the College of Canons and Vicars. The wood for this work - and no doubt for most of the alterations and buildings - was felled in Windsor Park. Whitsun appears to have been a general holiday and the accounts state that after Whitsun in 1352, wood was begun to be felled for building the Canons' chambers, and £40 was due to "John Glemsford, Hurley and Dunstaple in part payment of £107. 6s. 8d. for the carpentry of the Canons' chambers made at taskwork" (under contract). The full sum was paid in 1353 "for the carpentry of twenty-three chambers of the King's timber, for the canons of the College of the King's Chapel of Windsor at taskwork in accordance with an agreement made with them by the Ven. father Dom William of Edington, the King's Treasurer". The materials bought for the building work are listed in detail - nails, estrich boards for the roof (boards from Norway or the Baltic, probably pine or spruce), tiles, laths, solder etc.. Later in 1353 the building was obviously nearing completion, as plaster of Paris was bought for chimneys and walls; indeed the accounts for 1353-4 refer to the buildings being plastered and the roofs leaded.

The Pipe Roll for the following year shows accounts for work in the High Tower, involving (inter alia) John Glemsford who received 3/6d. a week. The accounts for 1362 detail the sums spent on building the Spicery and the Inner Gate-houses, and rebuilding the Royal Lodging. "To John Gleymesford in part payment of £40 for constructing a certain house called "le pasterye" ...£30" (This was one of the Queen's apartments). John was paid another £40 the following year in "discharge of his task". He was then employed in constructing two chambers on the south side of the castle, and was paid £11. 13s. 4d. towards his "task" of £100 and a further £88. 6s. 8d. on completing his contract. He was afterwards paid 36s. 8d. for making four "spere"* for "divers rooms there" including the tower called "La Rose", and in 1367 for making the "carpentry work in the aforesaid Gerard's Tower". Eleven years later, he constructed the gate between the "Blacktour and Gerard's tour for 53s. 4d. This is the last reference to John de Glemsford. Hope adds a note that "this gate was the principal entrance into the upper ward from the Great Park. The crooks (hinges or hangings) for these great doors still remain" (early this century). There has been a great deal of alteration and restoration since that time; but it is obvious that John was a first class carpenter who carried out much of the work done between 1350 and 1378, when a major part of the restoration and building of the Canons' lodgings was carried out. Do any of his stalls remain - or any of these houses - or the towers? And did John himself come from Glemsford, or was it one of his ancestors? There was a later Robert de Glemsford who could have been his son, also a carpenter at Windsor, and the fact that a John Goldyng, carpenter, was employed there from 1426 until his death in 1451 would seem to confirm the Glemsford origins. If only their wills survive! I haven't given up hope of finding yet more information on them to complete the picture. The plans of the castle were fascinating, but confusing rather than helpful, and my curiosity will not be satisfied until I have visited Windsor to see for myself whether any of John's work remains. I am sure the stalls in St George's Chapel must be the 14th Century ones, and when I do visit, I will gaze with admiration on the carving, and be proud that I, too, albeit some 600 years later, come from Glemsford.

©Eileen Lynch 1994

*Since writing the above, I have found that a spere truss is a carved wooden arch with enormous pillars - usually whole tree trunks - for supporting a screen. I have in fact seen such a spere arch recently in Rufford Old Hall, Lancs., the Great Hall of which dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. E.L.

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