Photograph proves


New evidence has come to light that Windsor and Eton Bowling Club, due to celebrate its centenary in 2022, is actually much older than members believe.


In his book "Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace" (pub: The Royal Collection), editor Steven Brindle includes this aerial photograph of Windsor, taken in 1086, just 20 years after William, Duke of Normandy, submitted a planning application to RBWM to build his new house.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020; illustrator: Bob Marshall

Towards the bottom left, close by the bridge, we can see a small, square, level area, better tended than the surrounding land and bounded by a hedge (presumably to deter visitors). It’s our bowling green, of course! On close inspection we see two players enjoying a roll-up, with another crouched down, probably measuring for shot. Club colours appear to have been darker in those days.


Of course, these were the Middle Ages, long before the manufacture of wooden or modern plastic bowls. So what material was used to make them? Extensive research (ie none) suggests either sheep's bladders stuffed with dung, or raw swedes; with a turnip for a jack.


Also note that this photograph predates the installation of the club house, which was still in use at Datchet Golf Club (just visible in the distant top right). Master Brown’s Ale House, later renamed ‘Brown’s Brasserie’ in honour of the Duke’s French ancestry, is in situ, as is the adjacent chip shop; but what is now River Street car park (not opened until 1928) is under grass.


Some things never change. Just as today, tourists queue to visit the Castle, picking up a few souvenirs, and enjoying a Medieval Mc‘boar’ger and a diet mead as they wait.


So, as we prepare to celebrate our centenary in two years time, it looks as though we could actually be 900 years too late!


If any members have recollections of these earlier days, please contact the Press Officer!