THIS grand old building is the favorite country residence of the British sovereigns. It is built on the top of a hill, overlooking the town of Windsor, and commanding a fine view of the River Thames. On this hill, William the Conqueror built a fortress, which was greatly enlarged by Henry I.  King Edward III, entirely rebuilt the castle, except three of the towers at the west end of the lower yard. Such a work as this could not be undertaken in that age without experiencing many difficulties, especially in getting workmen; so that orders were sent to the sheriffs of the different counties, to compel workmen to come to Windsor, there to be employed by the king as long as he needed them. This command was enforced several times, especially in the year 1363, at which time a contagious disease carried off many of the workmen. A noted man, William de Wykeham, superintended the work of building.

Many improvements and alterations were made in the castle by the successors of Edward III. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a terrace was made on the north side of the castle; this has since been enlarged. The interior of the castle was greatly improved by Charles II. The buildings alone now cover twelve acres.

Between the two wards of the castle is the keep, or Round Tower, which is about three hundred feet in circumference and is built on the top of a high, artificial mound. It was formerly surrounded by a ditch or moat, but this was filled up long ago. In this tower many royal prisoners have been confined, among others, James I. of Scotland. St. George's chapel, or the collegiate church of Windsor, is the largest and most elegant of the three royal chapels of England. In the vault connected with this chapel, several kings and queens and other members of the royal family lie buried. The staterooms and corridors of the castle contain many choice paintings, groups of statuary, etc.

The castle is surrounded by the "Little Park," which is about four miles in circumference, and contains some five hundred acres. It was enclosed by a brick wall, in the reign of William III. In this park is situated "Herne's Oak," mentioned by Shakespeare in his "Merry Wives of Windsor." On the south side of the castle, connected with "Little Park" by a long avenue of trees, is the "Great Park," which is eighteen miles in circumference. It abounds with beautiful forest scenery, and is well stocked with deer. This park is crossed by several roads, the principal of which is the "Long Walk," with a double row of elms on each side. At the end of this walk is an immense bronze statue of George III. In this park is a beautiful lake, called Virginia Water, on the bank of which is the Royal Fishing Temple. At the end of the lake, the water forms a beautiful cascade, near which is an artificial ruin, formed of marble and other material brought from Greece. West of the "Great Park" lies Windsor Forest, which is fifty-six miles in circumference.

This home of the royal family is indeed a beautiful place, and it might seem that in such a pleasant spot there could be no unhappiness. But all adown the rolling years, many have been the sad and aching hearts shut up in the walls of the old castle, many the weary feet that have walked its halls and corridors. Strange and thrilling stories are related of the secrets of the ancient palace; and could the old walls speak, they might doubtless tell stranger and sadder stories than pen or tongue have revealed. 

Those of royal birth are sometimes envied; but they have their sorrows as well as other people, and their lives are too often far from happy.

Few of us will ever enter an earthly palace; but we may all, if we will, be heirs of a home more glorious than any royal palace. In the city of God are "many mansions"; no royal grounds can compare with the "garden of the Lord"; and best of all, in that beautiful home will be no sorrow, no pain, for "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."