An intimidating audience
IT’S hard to imagine a more splendid setting in which to give a lecture than St George’s Chapel at Windsor. The gloaming of an autumn evening made it seem, if possible, even grander than usual. Yet St George’s isn’t simply astounding as a work of architecture and gathered together for the occasion was some of the community that makes it a living institution.
This community, in turn, boasts an extraordinary depth of history. The first documented Constable of Windsor was appointed more than 900 years ago and the first Dean and cannons nearly 700 years ago. Perhaps even more astonishing is the community of the dead gathered in the building itself. It includes two figures I was actually meant to be talking about, Edward IV and William, Lord Hastings (executed in 1483). It’s not as though they were likely to stand up and heckle, but it did seem a little intimidating to evoke them as personalities in the presence of their tombs, particularly as I was speaking with all the disadvantages of a historian five centuries on. I consoled myself with the thought that they’re probably beyond anger now and indeed,if they were interested in my efforts at all, I’m sure they were laughing. JG