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Berkshire Family Historian
December 2000

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, December 2000 Contents

Help Wanted: Prince Consort's Windsor Association - update

Julie Goddard, Newbury, Berkshire

Thank you for including my request for information in the June Historian and thank you also to those who wrote to me: Mrs. Mary Martin for revealing that she had sent the certificate to me in the first place and that James and Sarah Goddard were her ancestors; Mrs. Patricia Gilbert, who tells me that one of her ancestors received a certificate; Mr. Ronald Boyle of Windsor for kindly searching the local newspapers of the 1850s and 1860s; and Mrs. Margaret Goddard who wrote to the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle and the Prince of Wales in a quest for information. The Royal Archives say that this is one of their most frequently asked enquiries. The following is a summary of what we discovered:

The Association was founded by Prince Albert in 1850 'for the encouragement of the labouring classes on or about the Royal demesne'. It was originally called 'Windsor Royal Association', but was changed after Prince Albert's death in 1861 to 'Prince Consort's Windsor Association'. The association was run by a Committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Ranger of Windsor Park and supported by subscriptions of local residents.

To begin with there was an annual award, but after 1883 it became every two years and a member of the Royal Family always attended award ceremonies. The award ceremony took place at a big flower and vegetable show in Windsor Home Park where there were competitions for the best of each class, and also, it appears, competitions in 'the people's industrial exhibition'- a hobbies section perhaps.

From newspapers of the time it can be seen that prizes originally were given to 'encourage the labourers and their families and domestic and other servants, habits of morality and good order, providence and industry'. Prizes would be given 'to the labourer who has brought up his family in honest, sober and industrious habits and without parish relief except in case of sickness; to the widow of a labourer who has done the same; to families distinguished for cleanliness in house and person; to well conducted servants; to servants, male or female, who have lived for the longest period of service in the same situation; to young persons, male or female, who have done as above; to the best cultivators of gardens or allotments, being also persons of honest, sober, and good moral character; to the winner of the best vegetable collection produced from his or her own garden; best ploughman, in various classes.' Not all the prizes, or medals, were awarded every year; sometimes no one was felt good enough.

By 1852 the Prince Consort appears to have enlarged the scope or his association and wished to encourage 'Better Domestic Accommodation for the Industrial Classes.' He designed, or had designed model cottages for families, model lodging houses for the single working man, and communal baths and washing houses. The model cottages for families appear to have been a great success and in advance of their time. No doubt some BFHS members live in them still. However, the lodging houses for single men met with mixed fortunes, were not entirely successful and were eventually made into family houses.

In 1875 the then Chairman suggested that the association should be wound up but Queen Victoria wished it to continue and it did so, until 1904 when Edward VII decided that it had served its purpose. The balance of money was handed to Windsor Royal Infirmary.

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Berkshire Family History Society 2001

updated 21st June 2001