The History of the Harte & Garter Hotel and Spa
William the Conqueror chose the site of Windsor shortly after 1066 and built a castle high above the river Thames, on the edge of the Saxon hunting ground. It was a day’s march from London and he intended to guard the western approaches of the capital.
A small town quickly grew around the walls and there were several inns in the High Street to accommodate visitors. One of them was called the Garter Inn, named after the Most Noble Order of the Garter, which was founded by King Edward III in 1348. The other was named The White Harte, named in honour of the Royal Emblem worn by King Richard II (1388 – 99)
Both taverns were frequented by actors appearing in plays performed at Court and The Garter Inn was the setting for the scene in Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ , in which the rollicking figure-of-fun Sir John Falstaff appears with his followers Bardolph, Pistol, Nym and his page Robin. It was also here that the Merry Wives, Mistress Page, Mistress Ford and Mistress Quickly hatched the plot to trap Sir John at the Herne Oak in Windsor Great Park.
Because both buildings were constructed mainly of lathe and wattle, they were extremely susceptible to fires and in 1681 both buildings were completely destroyed and then rebuilt. In the late 19th century they were joined together to form the Harte & Garter Hotel, a building in the ‘Jacobethan’ style, much loved by Victorians and reflecting the Shakespearean connections
In 2007 the hotel was bought by Nicolas Crawley, a lover of old buildings as well as a distinguished hotelier. He has painstakingly restored the hotel to its former style and added a Spa as well as Conference facilities.
Anyone who comes to Windsor will appreciate this ancient hotel and its restaurant. After the glories of the Castle, St. Georges Chapel and Eton College, you can be sure of a warm welcome and efficient, pleasant service that has always been a hallmark of The Harte & Garter Hotel since it first opened its doors.