Men-At-Alms: Six Centuries of The Military Knights of Windsor

Simon Durnford



Publication date: 15 September 2022


Men-At-Alms is a History of the Military Knights of Windsor—resident in Windsor Castle—by one of their number, Simon Durnford.


In 1348, King Edward III created Britain’s oldest order of chivalry, the Order of the Garter. As high minded as he was muscular, he also founded a charity for impoverished men-at-arms, who came to be known as the Alms Knights (or Poor Knights). In 1833, their name was changed by William IV to the Military Knights of Windsor.


Over the centuries, there have been about six hundred and fifty such knights (far fewer than there have been the Knights of the Garter). Their backgrounds and careers have been very varied: one was a freed slave, another had to bind Casanova over to keep the peace. Most have had a military background (three have held the Victoria Cross) – but there have been astrologers, crusaders, mad baronets, politicians, artists, and con artists. Men-At-Alms tells their stories, set against the history of their times.

Additional Information




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170 x 240

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About the Author

Simon Durnford was born into a typical end-of-Empire family – his mother’s forebears having served in India for over a hundred years. His peripatetic upbringing was a mix of privilege, as the son of a naval commander, and poverty, when his father exchanged military for Holy Orders. He studied medicine and trained at Guy’s Hospital. Subsequently he specialised in aviation medicine, qualifying as an army pilot in 1982. For fifteen years he and his wife, Barbara, ran a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle and a flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep. He re-joined the army in 2016 as a Military Knight.