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Furnishing Windsor Castle

George IV's lavish refurbishment of the Green Drawing Room at Windsor, 1824-30

The furniture-makers Nicholas Morel and George Seddon went into partnership in 1826 to decorate George IV’s new Private Apartments in Windsor Castle. The firm produced a series of designs showing the principal elevations of each room, with the intended
Design for the east elevation of the Library, Room 196 (the Green Drawing Room), Windsor Castle, c.1826 ©

Throughout his life, George IV (1762–1830) was known for his love of fine objects and opulent design. After he became king in 1820, he completely remodelled the exterior of Windsor Castle, giving it the romantic and picturesque appearance seen today. He also created a new suite of private rooms inside the Castle. These were on the sunnier, east and south sides of the Castle, and included the magnificent Green Drawing Room. 

George IV in 1821, two years before he turned his attention to refurbishing Windsor. RCIN 405918

George IV in 1821, two years before he turned his attention to refurbishing Windsor. RCIN 405918 ©

The project was George IV’s last and greatest commission, and one of the most lavish and costly interior decoration schemes ever carried out in England. It was intended to re-establish Windsor as the main home of the British monarchy and the leading example of the national style. Among the craftsmen employed to deliver the renovations were the architect Jeffry Wyatville, the fifteen-year-old A.W.N. Pugin, and the furniture suppliers Morel & Seddon.

The Castle was in quite a poor condition when George IV came to the throne. Although partly modernised by his father, George III (1738–1820), it remained a series of awkwardly arranged apartments, lacking in both comfort and splendour. George IV's mother, Queen Charlotte (1744–1818), called Windsor 'the Coldest House, Rooms & Passages that ever existed'. It was certainly not the place to attract the new king whose taste for luxury and comfort was well-known.

From 1823 George IV turned his attention to the question of large-scale improvements and work began in 1824.

Throughout the renovations George IV took a close and personal interest in the decoration and furnishing of the rooms. Prime Minister Lord Liverpool described the project as the king's 'new hobby horse', noting that he took great delight 'in giving orders as to details himself'. The Duke of Wellington, a friend of George IV, also found the king 'thinking of nothing but his improvements & alterations'.  

Progress was considerably slower and more expensive than the initial estimates, but despite the delays the king took up residence in the Castle in December 1828, overlooking the inconvenience of 'several hundred workmen' still labouring near the Royal Apartments. He celebrated New Year there with his friends in January 1829 and from this point onwards he remained at Windsor constantly. In March 1830 the king's health went into decline and on 26 June that year he died in his new bedroom at Windsor.

Work on the Castle continued under his brother and successor, William IV (1765–1837), but was not completed until well into the reign of his niece, Queen Victoria (1819–1901). 

The objects below tell the story of the Green Drawing Room's creation.

Joseph Nash, The Green Drawing Room, 1848. RCIN 817132, plate 19.

The Green Drawing Room in 1848. RCIN 817132, plate 19. ©