|The Fishing Temple|
|George IV's fanciful Fishing temple was located on the north bank of the 150 acre Virginia Water, in the southern end of Windsor Great Park, on the southern waterfront of the island on which the medieval Manor Lodge had formerly stood. Work began on the structure in 1825. An expenditure of 8,730 pounds was necessary to complete the Chinoisery Fishing temple Sir Jeffery Wyatville (1766-1840) had designed for George IV.
Until the new building was completed, The King used a series of tents to the east of the island as his lakeside retreat. He had four large and four small tents made from canvas taken from the Ordnance stores. Besides theses purpose built tents there were a number of other tents of different sizes and shapes in a variety of colors which had formerly belonged to Tippoo Sahib. The tents had previously adorned Queen Charlotte's gardens at Frogmore. After the Fishing Temple was completed the tents remained a supplementary accommodation for the King's guests at Virginia Water.
|The Fishing Temple consisted of a rectangular block containing the principal room; the southern end of this room overhung the water and was supported on six brick arches. Attached to the main block were two smaller octagonal buildings to the north, sited at either side of the central entrance. Ornate oriental pinnacles surmounted the three roofs of the temple. Princess Augusta (1768-1840), George IV's favorite sister, recounted "passing the Boat Keeper's house to the north before walking over 'an invisible bridge to a little garden which is beautifully planted; in which there is a pretty Chinese building consisting of three rooms with a veranda around. The painting is very soft, free from anything that is gaudy, and papered with a gray ground and bamboo panels. The garden to the north of the Fishing Temple was arranged around a central fountain.. Captain Jekyll was paid for his work on the "japanning fountain" in 1827. "Ten dozen of Gold and Silver Fish" were also delivered. The little building was approached up a broad central flight of steps nearly as wide as the garden fašade. The roof which covered the veranda on the waterfront was extended to the garden front by Crace and hung with bells and decorated with gilded fire breathing dragons on the top edges of the roof. A number of trees were planted on the island. A new road was laid out from the Royal Lodge to the moat island. The King himself laid out the precise line of the road. Frederick Crace, a decorator, who imported Chinese porcelain and decorative objects was also involved in the project. Crace is shown holding a design for the garden front of the Fishing Temple in his portrait of c. 1830. A pair of low pavilions overlooking the water to the right and left of the Fishing Temple were soon added to house domestic offices such as the kitchen and scullery. Crace heightened the roofline and added oriental cupolas topped by a steep roof hung with bells and accented on the top edges by fire breathing dragons. The cupolas would have helped in cooling the building. William Daniell painted a watercolor of The Boathouse, Fishing Temple and tents, from the south bank of Virginia Water that was reproduced in the publication of Daniell's Select Views of Windsor in 1829.
The interior of the Fishing Temple is described as having bamboo bordered panels filled with rich flower designed papers with reliefs shaped like baskets of flowers at the top of each panel. The ceiling was painted blue with clouds like the sky. The furniture was covered with "green chintz sprinkled with marine productions." Greville writes that a band in a large boat moored opposite the windows used to play during dinner.
After George IV's death in 1830 the building was neglected and went into a gradual decline that ended in the destruction of the dilapidated structure. It was replaced with a chalet. This too was later torn down. Only the broad brick steps of the Fishing Temple remain today.