Cloisters​ near​ Saint George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, based on a sketch made by​ Sandhurst Military Academy drawing-master W. Alfred Delamotte​ for the fifth monthly instalment of Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance for December 1842 in Ainsworth's Magazine, which he founded he had quarrelled with the publisher and left his editorial post at Bentley's Miscellany. "Book the First: Anne Boleyn," Chapter VII, "How the Earl of Surrey and the Fair Geraldine plighted their troth in the Cloisters of Saint George's Chapel,"​midddle of​ p. 58:​ 6 cm high by 7.3 cm wide, roughly framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage​ Complemented: Will Sommers enables Richmond to overhear the lovers

At the appointed hour the duke proceeded to the lower ward, and stationed himself near Wolsey’s tomb-house. Just as he arrived there, the vesper hymn arose from the adjoining fane, and its solemn strains somewhat soothed his troubled spirit. But they died away; and as the jester came not, Richmond grew impatient, and began to fear he had been duped by his informant. At length the service concluded, and, losing all patience, he was about to depart, when the jester peered round the lower angle of the tomb-house, and beckoned to him. Obeying the summons, the duke followed his conductor down the arched passage leading to the cloisters.

"Tread softly, gossip, or you will alarm them," said Sommers, in a low tone.

They turned the corner of the cloisters; and there, near the entrance of the chapel, stood the youthful pair​— the Fair Geraldine half reclining upon the earl's breast, while his arm encircled her slender waist.

"There!"​whispered the jester, chuckling maliciously, "there! did I speak falsely — eh, gossip?"

Richmond laid his hand upon his sword.

"Hist!" said the jester; "hear what the Fair Geraldine has to say."​ [Chapter 7, "How the Earl of Surrey and the Fair Geraldine plighted their troth in the Cloisters of Saint George's Chapel,"​ pp. 58-59]


This is a rare instance of the static wood-engraving being superior to the steel-engraving realizing the action of the historical novel. Here, Delamotte provides a credible (albeit, unremarkable) backdrop for the romantic scene which Tony Johannot realised shortly before he left the project. The full-page steel-engraving of the overheard lovers, Henry's meddling jester, and the jealous Earl of Richmond fails to complement the sharply-defined architectural study adequately as it fails to distinguish the figures. Although the scene is a corridor near the Chapel, the French illustrator does not particularize the passageway in terms of architectural ornamentation; rather, he seems to be relying upon Delamotte's small-scale line-drawing on the facing page.

Although devoid of human actors, Delamotte's wood-engraving​provides a much sharper image, not​of the cloisters as they appeared in 1529, but as they would appear to a curious stroller in 1842. The French illustrator's lack of specific​detail in his sequence of four steel-engravings is especially evident in The Meeting in the Cloisters​ of Saint George's Chapel. Whereas the vagueness of Johannot's plate​suggests that he did not bother to cross the​Channel in order to sketch the backdrops which Ainsworth describes in such detail, Delamotte must have undertaken a number of sketching trips from Sandhurst in order to become thoroughly acquainted with both the Castle itself and its natural setting, Windsor Great Park and Windsor Forest.

In this chapter, Ainsworth exploits the​same winning formula that he used in The Tower of London:​real personages, secretive romantic​liaisons, overheard conversations,​— and antiquarian description of an historical building, reinforced by elegant but sterile wood-engravings vignetted and dropped right into the letterpress. The Delamotte illustration effectively sets​the scene, showing the present-day setting, devoid of any drama, immediately ahead of​Johannot's depiction of the overheard conversation between the lovers, the earnest, young​Earl of Surrey and the Fair Geraldine.

The placement of the wood-engraving suggests that we are approaching the dramatic moment in the text from the perspective of the mundane present. Although the cloisters in St. George's Chapel initially have vague, royal associations for Ainsworth's serial readers, after they have encountered the text and the Johannot illustration, they see the tranquil passageway in quite a different light, as the theatrical backdrop for a romantic encounter and a clash of conflicting passions: Surrey's infatuation with the Fair Geraldine and Richmond's unalloyed jealousy.

Other Views of St. George's Chapel

Johannot's Complementary Steel-engraving for Chapter VII

Above: Johannot's stylish realisation of the scene about to unfold in Delamotte's wood-engraving on the facing page, The Cloisters of Saint George's Chapel [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.

Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.

Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.

Last modified 4 February 2018