I meet many people on my walks who are visiting London and have either already been or are about to visit Windsor Castle, which as you might know is one of the Queen’s official residencies, that lies about 25 miles to the west of London. For that reason I thought I’d write a brief post about what to expect from your visit and how to get there. It is expressly forbidden to take photos inside Windsor Castle, so you’ll have to make do with a few exterior shots.
Windsor Castle was founded at the end of the 11th century by William the Conqueror (also responsible for leaving us The Tower of London) and is the oldest royal residence in the British Isles to have remained in continuous use. It has served as home to 39 monarchs. Not bad.
The castle dominates the whole area (which was of course the idea) and when you enter, you’ll find yourself in The Middle ward, (there are 3 main wards) with the Norman motte (or mound) on top of which you’ll see the Round Tower. It probably makes sense to head towards the Upper Ward and explore the State Apartments and royal apartments, which are arranged around the Quadrangle in the centre. As you leave through the Lower Ward, you pass the incredible St George’s Chapel, which is well worth a visit before you go.
What to expect from your visit to Windsor Castle?
Without going in to minute detail about each room, I suppose that if you happen to visit during the height of summer you can expect a vast amount of people. Aside from that, be prepared for a whistle stop tour through 900 years of British Royal history, opulent and richly furnished interiors (many of which date back to Charles II in the 17th century), although a number of monarchs have been instrumental in Windsor Castle’s alterations throughout history. As this year is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo there are specific exhibitions dedicated to this event and those involved, including the Duke of Wellington. You’ll see an array of arms and armour and through the medium of King Henry VIII’s armour (made in about 1540) it’s possible to see just how fat he really was towards the end of his life ... if you like that sort of thing.
You can also see Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, a model of a London town house built in 1924 by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and filled with thousands of objects made by leading designers, artists and craftsmen of the day. It even has electricity and running water.
Windsor Castle is chock full of treasures with an exceptional collection of paintings and drawings including works by Holbein, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Canaletto to name just a few. In 1992 a fire broke out destroying many rooms including St George’s Hall, the Grand Reception Room and State Dining Room, amongst others. Reconstruction work took five years and cost £37 million.
In my humble opinion, one of the highlights of my visit was St George’s Chapel. Work on the chapel began under Edward IV in 1475, the Quire (choir) was completed in 1485 and the chapel finally finished during the reign of Henry VIII in 1528. As well as being able to marvel at the stunning medieval stone and woodwork, the chapel is also the final resting place for Henry VIII, Charles I, King George VI & Elizabeth (the Queen mother). St George’s chapel is a fully functioning chapel with at least 3 services taking place each day, which visitors are of course welcome to attend.
I took a train from Paddington Station to Slough, then at Slough you change on to a train that just goes to Windsor & Eton Central. The return journey costs £10.40 and if you get the fast train can take 30 minutes, but I’d leave 45 minutes to an hour just to make sure, as you could have a 10 to 15 minute wait at Slough. Once you arrive in Windsor, you’ll have no problems finding the castle, it’s literally a couple of minutes from the platform and the town itself is quite pleasant, if not geared towards tourists (as you’d expect), but worth having a look around. I'd allow a couple of hours for visiting the castle itself.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.