When did Windsor Castle catch fire and how much did it cost to restore it? The true story as it is depicted in The Crown series 5
Posted by  badge Boss on Nov 09
The Crown’s fire (right) and the real blaze (left) (Pictures: Splash/ Netflix)

of Netflix’s launched today, and it’s arguably been one of the most divisive seasons yet with before it even aired.

From to fictionalised claims that the-then Prince Charles tried to enlist Prime Minister Sir John Major to persuade the Queen to abdicate, the show has turned the heat on the .

And speaking of turning the heat up, one topic broached in the new series is the real-life fire that tore through .

Here’s a reminder of what caused the infamous fire and the aftermath…

When was the Windsor Castle fire?

The fire started on November 20, 1992.

1992 was already a tough year for the Royal Family – with Charles and Diana’s bitter divorce, Princess Anne’s divorce from Captain Mark Phillips and the split between Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson – and one month after the fire, the Queen would refer to 1992 as her ‘Annus Horribilis’ in her Christmas Speech.

The fire capped off an Annus Horribilis for the Queen (Picture: Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

‘Annus Horribilis’ is Latin for ‘horrible year’, and details of the fire alone would justify such a claim.

The fire started on the morning of Friday, November 20 and the fires were still burning some 15 hours later.

How did the Windsor Castle fire start?

The fire started in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel, where a faulty spotlight ignited a curtain next to the altar.

Within minutes the blaze had spread to St George’s Hall next door.

The fire was first spotted around 11.30am and within three hours 225 firemen from seven counties were battling the flames.

During the peak times of the fire, they were having to use 36 pumps, shooting out 1.5million gallons of water.

Were any paintings or pieces of history damaged?

In two acts of good fortune, many priceless artifacts and pieces of art had already been removed due to planned rewiring work.

And secondly, the fire break door at the other end of St George’s Hall wasn’t breached, so the Royal Library was undamaged.

Fortunately, only two pieces of art were lost in the fire (Picture: Mathieu Polak/Sygma via Getty Images)
Workers were quick to remove valuable works of art (Picture: Mathieu Polak/Sygma via Getty Images)

Palace staff got to work quickly, removing works of art from the Royal Collection from the path of the fire.

The Castle’s Quadrangle became one of the best museums in the world at one stage, being the refuge point for a collection of fine works plucked out of the path of the fire, including French 18th-century furniture, paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens and Gainsborough, Sèvres porcelain and other priceless treasures.

Just two works of art were lost in the fire – a rosewood sideboard and a very large painting by Sir William Beechey that couldn’t be taken down from the wall in time.

What was the damage to Windsor Castle?

Still, despite saving many treasures and trinkets, the damage hit the tens of millions when it was eventually extinguished at 2.30am on Saturday, November 21.

Several ceilings collapsed across the Castle, and apartments including the Crimson Drawing Room, the Green Drawing Room, and the Queen’s Private Chapel were badly damaged.

St George’s Hall survived with the walls largely intact, but the ceiling had collapsed.

The State Dining Room in the Prince of Wales Tower and the Grand Reception Room were also completely gutted and ruined.

A total of 100 rooms were affected by the fire.

Smaller apartments damaged or destroyed included the Star Chamber, Octagon Room, Brunswick Tower, Cornwall Tower, Prince of Wales Tower, Chester Tower, Holbein Room and the Great Kitchen, which lost its plaster coving and most of the medieval timber.

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What was the aftermath of the fire?

It was initially estimated that it would cost £60million to restore the castle, though the final cost was much lower.

The initial belief that taxpayers would fully fund the restoration led to intense scrutiny of the royals – again with that Annus Horribilis – and this is why Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II decided to start paying income tax, making her the first monarch to do so since the 1930s.

Photos were released of the Crimson Drawing Room after it was restored after it was by November 1997 (Picture: Bill Rowntree/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

By April 1993 it was agreed that 70% of the cost would be met by charging the public for entry into the castle precincts and £8 for admission to Buckingham Palace for the following five years.

The Queen also contributed £2million of her own money.

The total cost of restoration ended up being £36.5million.

The Crown seasons 1-5 are available to stream on Netflix now.

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