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Monday, November 17, 1997 Published at 23:56 GMT


New look Windsor for the new look monarchy

The Crimson Dining Room: automatic fire detection devices are now in place

Restorations have been completed at Windsor Castle, after more than 100 rooms were destroyed by fire five years ago.

The work was finished six months ahead of time and cost 36.5m - 3m less than forecast.

[ image: Climax to the
Climax to the "annus horribilis"
The fire, on November 20 1992, was the final blow to Queen Elizabeth's "annus horribilis" which saw the serial breakup of her children's marriages.

The Queen has described the restoration as "a wonderful anniversary present" as she celebrates 50 years of marriage to Prince Philip this week.

Nine of the state rooms were left unrecognisable by the blaze, which began in the former Chapel Royal during general maintenance work at the castle. It is believed to have been started by a spotlight shining on a curtain.

[ image: A raised ceiling to better dispay ancient shields]
A raised ceiling to better dispay ancient shields
These rooms include the medieval St. George's banqueting hall, which has not only been restored but also improved.

A new ceiling has been built from 140 green oak trees to replace the destroyed Georgian one.

The carpentry involved was "like an exercise in doing one of those Chinese wooden jigsaw puzzles" according to the architect, Giles Downes.

[ image: Private chapel]
Private chapel
A brand new octagonal anteroom has been added where the private chapel used to be.

The chapel is now on one side, with two tiers of stained glass windows based on drawings by the Duke of Edinburgh.

[ image: A reminder of the 1992 fire]
A reminder of the 1992 fire
The bottom right hand window is the only one not based on the prince's artwork.

His drawing showed a phoenix rising from the ashes but the design finally chosen is of a fireman using a hose to douse the blazing castle.

[ image: Found under layers of old paint]
Found under layers of old paint
The renovation has unearthed unknown aspects of the castle's history.

From beneath layers of charred gloss paint, the medieval undercroft has now been restored to its former glory.

The restored rooms will reopen to the public on December 27.

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