“Her Majesty’s poultry-yard, at Windsor, is situated in a small pleasure-garden just opposite Frogmore, and being rather for the amusement of rearing fancy fowls and pigeons in the manner of an aviary, than for breeding them for the table, is only, at present, upon a moderate scale. The hen-house is erected at the back of a high wall, and…is merely a simple, though fancifully-decorated cottage, displaying considerable taste in the architect. Over the roof is a well-stocked hexagonal erection for pigeons of various race, which are so familiar as to perch upon the person of her Majesty, who feeds them from her hand; in the centre of the building is a small room of entrance, on each side of which are the several compartments for the poultry, with a yard divided into separate courts by wire fences, and no birds can have more snug retreats for depositing and sitting upon their eggs—the nests being tastefully formed of moss, giving them the appearance of bowers; the whole warmed by a heated flue running underneath, and communicating with each cote by gratings.
Here may be seen a curious collection of white Java Bantams, odd little birds, covered with a sort of hairy feather, but laying, it is said, the richest kind of egg; which, however, are not a little difficult to be got, for it seems that no sooner is one layed, [sic]than the whole tribe, even the hen herself, begin pecking at it until eaten up: yet in this, we imagine, there must be some mistake, or it would be impossible to rear a brood from the parent hen. There are also some of Sir John Sebright’s celebrated bantams, with their golden speckled feathers, and other small breeds of a rare description. By way of contrast, there is an enormously large breed of Cochin China fowls, the cock, although very young, weighing upwards of ten pounds, and the hens very prolific of eggs of superior flavor; which, although white when layed, [sic] soon become afterwards speckled.
There are likewise various other sorts of fancy breeds—both fowls and pigeons, of a curious description—all under the care of a man especially qualified for such a charge, as perhaps there are few better acquainted with the habits of the feathered tribes. He has evidently passed much of his time in the recesses of the woods and forests, trapping birds for sale, and examining their modes of life…
The shrubberies in the garden afford shade enough from the sun, but the fowls should also have shelter from the rain, by a verandah extending along the front from each side of the porch…
We understand it to be the intention of her Majesty to establish a large poultry-yard, for the supply of the royal table, in the breeding and fattening of all sorts of fowls—in the care of which her Majesty takes especial interest; nor can there be a doubt that the introduction of foreign breeds will thus—under the example of her gracious patronage—in the course of time, cause much improvement in the stock of our native species…”
The author went on to extol the virtues of exercise citing the royal couple as an example. “Those residents of Windsor who are in the habit of taking an early morning walk, to enjoy ‘the cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour,’ in the splendid demesne, proudly crowned by its ancient castle, must have often seen two persons in plain attire, tripping lightly across that pleasant meadow called ‘Datchet Mead,’ in order to visit a farm at the extremity of the Home-park. These persons are Her Majesty and Prince Albert, pursuing their way to the dairy and poultry-yard, and in their progress sporting with their infants…It is impossible to witness the unaffected enjoyment of the royal couple in this domestic excursion, unalloyed as it is by any restraint of official etiquette…”
Photo taken early 20th century
Murray, John. “Farming for Ladies”. 1844. London.