Once, Windsor Castle was Britain’s most important place when Queen of England Elizabeth II lived there. Strongly associated with British history, it perfectly embodies medieval architectural glory. Windsor Castle is still the largest occupied castle in the world and is in much better health than any other building from the 11th century.
Because this castle is associated with the royal family, it has been the center of attention throughout its history. Queen Elizabeth of England and her family spend time at Windsor Castle regularly. Beside Buckingham palace, the main official royal London home of the Queen, this castle is also declared as an official residence of the queen.
Founded by William the Conqueror in11th century, Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world. There is no other castle where Kings and Queens lived for more than 1000 years and are still inhabited.
Due to its proximity to the river Thames and Windsor forest, the castle has always played a vital role in strategic defenses. And above and beyond everything, it is a must-visit place if you are within the area of Berkshire.
Although the entry inside the castle is not open 24/7, over the weekend and other holidays, it offers some fun activities. Visit Windsor castle and feel yourself royalty while you roam inside this mighty castle where kings and queens are living for a thousand years!
Windsor SL4 1NJ, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Windsor Castle has the most prosperous and exciting history compared to any other castle. It was constructed by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. William built several other defensive motte and bailey castles too.
The intention behind creating this castle is purely defensive, and it wasn’t used as a royal residence until the start of the 12th century.
Henry I was the first king to use Windsor Castle as a residence when he married in this castle in 1121. As this castle became a royal residence, several structural additions enhanced its beauty and defense.
Henry II took the throne over in 1154. Like his predecessor, Henry II constructed Windsor boundlessly between 1165 and 1179. King’s gate was built in the castle along with many stone walls and square-shaped towers. He also refashioned the court as per the trends of his time.
In the 13th century, king John took some fortress buildings for residency. In 1216 the castle was seized by French troops. When John successfully defeated the French, the court was immediately reconstructed, strengthening the defense.
All the walls were rebuilt using local stones, and a gatehouse was added between 1224 and 1230. New towers were also constructed and named Curfew, Garter, and Salisbury. Two towers were added, Edward III and Henry III, to reinforce the stone walls.
Henry III had a special affection for Windsor castle, and he preferred to spend his time there. After his marriage here, he built a luxurious palace in the upper ward of the castle for his queen and children.
In the lower community, he made a chapel named Lady chapel. The renewal of the castle was so remarkable that it was considered “one of the high watermarks of English art.”
In the 14th century, the future King Edward III was born in Windsor castle. He grew up in the castle and built many new buildings. While the reconstruction was being held because of Edward’s interest in this building, he temporarily stayed in the round tower.
He spent the most significant amount of money ever on a building operation. After its completion, it was known as England’s most expensive building project; it consisted of three courts, a little cloister, a king’s cloister, and a kitchen court.
The main entrance to the palace was the gatehouse leading into the kitchen court. The king’s court was named the rose tower in the castle’s west.
In the 15th century, England began to face political challenges. The political tensions caused Henry IV to seize the castle in 1499. After the tensions broke out and the war of roses began, England got divided into two parties, the Yorkists and the Lancastrians.
Henry IV and the Yorkists managed to distract attention from Windsor during the violence.
Windsor came under use for international events, like the visit of Philip I in 1506. William de la Pole was imprisoned in Windsor Castle before his execution.
In the 16th century, Henry VIII spent his life in Windsor castle as a young man. Public visits were strictly restricted. Henry took charge of the construction, but it remained incomplete after Henry’s death.
His successor, Edward VI, disliked Windsor castle because there were no galleries or gardens to walk in. During his era, not much construction work was done. Edward’s sister, Queen Mary, expanded some buildings.
Elizabeth I spent most of her time at Windsor castle. She purchased brass canons for the defense of the castle. Elizabeth also contributed to the construction of new buildings and repairing old ones. Elizabeth extensively used the castle for diplomatic events.
In 1642 civil war broke out. During the war, the castle was looted. Many books were destroyed, and jewelry was stolen. Approximately 101 kilograms of gold and silver had been robbed.
After the war, Windsor castle was converted into the headquarters of a senior parliamentary general. The looting did not stop. Charles was then a prisoner of the parliament. The parliament moved into Windsor Castle.
After Charles’s execution, his body was brought to Windsor without a ceremony and was buried under St. George’s chapel.
The monarchy was restored in 1660. Windsor was the only castle to be fully reconstructed to modern designs. Charles II rebuilt walls and chapels. The new look was said to be neo-Norman.
William III reconstructed the upper ward, but the work was not done due to the king’s death.
In the 18th century, George I was uninterested in Windsor castle. He seldom stayed here. In the 1740s, the castle became a tourist attraction.
George II was attracted to Windsor. George II would frequently be seen walking around the grounds, which led to limiting public visits to the castle. He changed a lot in the interior and exterior of this building.
Later in 1788, he suffered madness and was removed from power. In 1801 he recovered from his illness but was restricted to the apartments of Windsor.
In 1820, George IV took over and recreated the royal places to reflect his wealth.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made Windsor castle their residence. Prince Albert died in Windsor castle. After his death, the queen moved to Buckingham Palace.
Victoria made many changes in the parks and buildings and granted the public rights to visit the castle’s garden.
In 1901, during the era of Edward VII, rooms of the upper ward were redecorated after many years. In 1917 George renamed the castle ‘house of Windsor.’
During world war two, the castle was organized for war conditions. Staff from Buckingham palace were moved to Windsor, and the windows were blacked out. Security was on high alert throughout the era of World War. King and his family lived in Windsor Castle during the war.
Windsor Castle under Elizabeth II
In 1952 Elizabeth II took over the throne. By the 1990s, there was a remarkable change in the upper ward. On November 20, 1992, a fire broke out at Windsor castle. It lasted for 15 hours damaging the upper ward.
The fire damaged nine master rooms and 100 others. Modern methods were used for the reconstruction, and the work was completed in 1997 with a total cost of £67 million (in 2015 terms)
In the 21st century, Windsor castle was owned by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2006, approximately 500 people were living and working in the castle. A new entrance was opened in late 2019. Since March 2020, the queen and prince Philip have stayed in Windsor castle.
The Queen used the castle as a private home, where she usually spent the weekend, and as an official Royal residence where she undertook specific formal duties.
Open throughout the year. The Admission Centre for Windsor Castle is at the top of Castle Hill, SL4 1NJ
March to October: Open Thursday- Monday
First entry 10:00, last entry 15:30
November to February: Open Thursday- Monday
Timed admission slots – every 30 mins
These are subject to change. The timings and latest updates are available on the Royal Uk website https://www.royal.uk/royal-residences-windsor-castle
It is necessary to book tickets in advance. The official site to book tickets is https://www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle
Tickets prices to visit Windsor castle are:
- Free for children under 5
- For kids under 17 Є13.50
- Adult Є23
- Disabled Є50
- Senior/ student Є20
The prices of tickets may change. Visit the website mentioned prior for the latest prices. You can also book tickets online there.
The ticket prices include the multimedia tour.
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Advantage Cardholders have free entry.
The castle consists of 14 towers. It expands to 52,609 square meters. Windsor has a fortification, a palace, and a small town. George and Victoria designed the castle with gothic and modern styles.
The middle ward is the heart of Windsor castle. The motte is 50 feet high and is made from chalk. The round tower is a 12th-century building that was later extended to 30 feet. The interior of the round tower is from 1991.
The upper ward consists of significant buildings surrounded by a bailey wall. The rose garden is in the upper ward. The River Thames flows to the upper side of the castle. In 2020 the upper ward was open to the public for a limited time for the first time in 40 years.
The state apartments were designed in the 19th century. Each room has its style and matching furniture. Many of the rooms were renovated after the 1992 fire. Most of the rooms seem as if they were of the 18th century. The rooms were rebuilt to the gothic design of Victoria.
The lower ward is in medieval design. Most of the lower side was renovated during the Victorian reign. St. George’s chapel is located in the lower ward. On the east is the Lady Chapel. It still has the original door from 1246.
The curfew tower is the oldest tower of the lower ward. The opposite side is a combination of buildings.
The castle has limited gardens that lead towards the upper ward from a terrace. The castle is surrounded by parkland, with two working farms and many cottages. The Windsor Great park covers 5000 acres of land.
All basic facilities are available in Windsor castle, open for public visits.
- Group discounts are given to the visitors
- Tour guides are available in different languages
- Smoking is strictly prohibited
- Children and infants are allowed
- Educational visits are allowed and highly welcomed
- No parking on site but available a few miles away
- Gift shop
- Audio commentary and audio tours are offered in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Mandarin. the price of these tours is part of the ticket price.
- Wheelchair available
- Online ticket booking
- Refreshment centers. (Eating and drinking are prohibited in the State Apartments or St George’s Chapel. if you will be carrying any drinks and food, you will be asked to place them in closed bags before being admitted to the Castle)
- Dogs permitted
One can capture the exterior of Windsor Castle, but inside the castle, especially in State Apartments or St George’s Chapel, any video shooting or taking images is strictly prohibited.
Flying drones, even near the castle, are not allowed.
Windsor Castle is a must-go place if you are in England. Due to its rich history and royal building design, the castle looks breathtaking. The facilities provided are responsibly managed, and the staff is very cooperative and always available to assist visitors making the visit more pleasant.
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