Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance for August 1842 in Ainsworth's Magazine, which Ainsworth had founded after he had quarrelled with the publisher and left his editorial post at Bentley's Miscellany. "Book the First: Anne Boleyn," Chapter III, "Of the Grand Procession to Windsor Castle; Of the meeting of King Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn at the Lower Gate; Of their entrance into the Castle; and how the Butcher was Hanged from the Curfew Tower," bottom of p. 32, tailpiece:height 8.3 cm width 9.5 cm, vignetted — facing the ornamental headpiece for Chapter IV, King Henry the Eighth attending Mass in St. George's Chapel. [Click on the image to enlarge it.], based on a sketch made by Sandhurst Military Academy drawing-master W. Alfred Delamotte for the second instalment of
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
"May it please your majesty," said Shoreditch, "I last night arrested a butcher of Windsor for uttering words highly disrespectful of your highness, and of the fair and virtuous lady by your side."
"Ah! God's death!" exclaimed the king. "Where is the traitor? Bring him before us."
"He is here," replied Shoreditch.
And immediately Mark Fytton was brought forward by a couple of halberdiers. He still preserved his undaunted demeanour, and gazed sternly at the king.
"So, fellow, thou hast dared to speak disrespectfully of us—ha!" cried Henry.
"I have spoken the truth," replied the butcher fearlessly. "I have said you were about to divorce your lawful consort, Catherine of Arragon, and to take the minion, Anne Boleyn, who stands beside you, to your bed. And I added, it was a wrongful act."
"Foul befall thy lying tongue for saying so!" replied Henry furiously. "I have a mind to pluck it from thy throat, and cast it to the dogs. What ho! guards, take this caitiff to the summit of the highest tower of the castle — the Curfew Tower — and hang him from it, so that all my loyal subjects in Windsor may see how traitors are served."
"Your highness has judged him justly," said Anne Boleyn. "You say so now, Mistress Anne Boleyn," rejoined the butcher; "but you yourself shall one day stand in as much peril of your life as I do, and shall plead as vainly as I should, were I to plead at all, which I will never do to this inexorable tyrant. You will then remember my end."
"Away with him!" cried Henry. "I myself will go to the Garter Tower to see it done. Farewell for a short while, sweetheart. I will read these partisans of Catherine a terrible lesson."
As the butcher was hurried off to the Curfew Tower, the king proceeded with his attendants to the Garter Tower, and ascended to its summit.
In less than ten minutes a stout pole, like the mast of a ship, was thrust through the battlements of the Curfew Tower, on the side looking towards the town. To this pole a rope, of some dozen feet in length, and having a noose at one end, was firmly secured. The butcher was then brought forth, bound hand and foot, and the noose was thrown over his neck. [Chapter III. "Of the Grand Procession to Windsor Castle; Of the Meeting ofKing Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn at the Lower Gate; Of their Entrance into the Castle; And how the Butcher was Hanged from the Curfew Tower," pp. 30-32]
On Windsor Castle's Curfew Tower, the royal halberdiers overlook the parapet. The hanging corpse of the supposed traitor whose only crime was speaking his mind about Henry's casting off Catherine of Arragon casts an ominous shadow, presumably from the setting sun (left), as King Henry and his attendants watch from the roof of the Garter Tower to the right. The text spells the rebel's name "Fytton," but the caption in the list of "Wood Engravings" gives it as "Fitton" (p. viii). In this plate, Delamotte synthesizes what was then a present-day view of the Curtain Tower (as of the summer of 1842 when he visited Windsor) and Ainsworth's description of the execution of the young butcher who has dared to criticize Henry VIII's domestic arrangements, in particular his carrying on the affair with Anne Boleyn publicly while still married to Queen Catherine. Fytton thus approximates the character of the outspoken Hot Gospeller in Ainsworth's earlier historical romance, The Tower of London. Cruikshank effectively presented the Protestant fanatic's summary execution under the orders of Mary Tudor in The Burning of Edward Underhill (August 1840). However, Ainsworth had developed the secondary character, and perhaps even justified his execution for treason since Underhill, a rabid Protestant, had attempted to assassinate Queen Mary. Mark Fytton's situation is quite different. The legitimacy of the treason charge is questionable, and Ainsworth has not developed this tertiary character in any respect, although he will become one Herne the Hunter's band later in the story.
This scene, with the young butcher's body hanging from a pole, sets up the scene in which Surrey and Richmond discover his corpse "suspended from an arm of the wizard oak" (p. 55) with a scroll stuck upon his breast signifying that he has joined the phantom band of hunters led by Herne. When the archer Shoreditch and Richmond go "demon-hunting," the archer actually puts a shaft through the zombie-like rider to no apparent effect — Mark Fytton, sitting upright in the saddle, just keeps riding. The images presented by Delamotte and Johannot effectively synthesize the era of composition and the era summoned up, the summer of 1842 and 21 April 1529, the day of Henry and Anne's triumphant arrival in Windsor.
Some Other Views by Delamotte of the Curfew Tower
Left: A later view of the fortress's D-shaped tower, Curfew Tower and other buildings, as proposed to be altered by Wyatville (Book III, Ch. V). Centre: Delanotte's second external study, Eastern View of the Curfew Tower (Book I, Ch. II). Right: Delamotte's initial view of the edifice which plays a key role in the opening of the novel, Curfew Tower, from Thames Street (Book I, Ch. II). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Above: Delamotte's later view of the old, round tower, Curfew Tower and other buildings, as proposed to be altered by Wyatville, the 19th c. restoration architect (Book III, Ch. V). [Click on image to enlarge it.]
Other Views of the Curfew Tower
- Interior of the Curfew Tower
- Vault in the Curfew Tower
- Port-hole in the Curfew Tower
- Upper Chamber in the Curfew Tower
- The Castle, from the Brocas
- The Disappearance of Herne in the Curfew Tower
A Brief History of the Curfew Tower, 1227-1863
King Henry III ordered the construction of the Curfew Tower, which derives its name from its bells, between 1227 and 1230 at the extreme western end of the castle's fortifications as part of the new defences following the siege of Windsor during the reign of King John. The D-shaped tower contains a thirteenth-century dungeon, and has some of the oldest masonry in Windsor Castle. Its walls are thirteen feet thick at the base, and rise to a height of one hundred feet. Its position commands the northwest angle of the defences of the castle's lower ward. In 1477, King Edward IV effected the greatest change in its history by allowing the College of St. George to repurpose it as a belfry. At that time, the College had labourers construct an internal timber frame to house the bells and a clock mechanism with an external face. The College's bells and clock have remained in place since the late fifteenth century. Structurally, however, the tower had remained unchanged for centuries, until architect Anthony Salvin (1798-1881), an expert on Mediaeval and Tudor architecture, carried out necessary structural restoration work in 1863.
Salvin’s work included giving the tower a completely new stone face, raising the height of the upper walls and adding a large semi-conical roof modeled on one at Carcassone. The story goes that it was Emperor Napoleon III who suggested this new look while visiting Queen Victoria in 1855. Salvin's alterations gave us the Curfew Tower that we see today, still fulfilling its role as the chapel clock and bell tower, as it has done for over 500 years.["Image of the Month: The Curfew Tower, College of St. George, Windsor Castle"]
Other Views and Related Material on Windsor Castle
- Windsor Castle from the Long Walk, Victorian additions and alterations by Sir Jeffry Wyattville
- Early twentieth-century view of the castle from the river
- The Frogmore Mausoleum, adjacent to the Long Walk
- Statue of Queen Victoria at the foot of Castle Hill, Windsor
Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.
"Image of the Month: The Curfew Tower." College of St. George, Windsor Castle. https://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/image_of_the_month/the-curfew-tower/
Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.
Plowman-Craven. "Curfew Tower, Windsor Castle." https://www.plowmancraven.co.uk/projects/curfew-tower-windsor-castle/
Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.
Last modified 4 February 2018