A Brief History of Windsor Castle

Apr 9, 2018

No visit to Windsor would be complete without exploring the striking battlements of Windsor Castle.

The royal residence is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, and has been a home to the monarchy for over 900 years.

Part museum, part fully working royal home, Windsor Castle is amongst the UK’s most recognisable landmarks.

First built by William the Conqueror, following the Norman invasion of England, the Castle was constructed to hold the strategically important area around London’s Western bank.

It was during the reign of Henry II that the stone Castle you see today began to take shape. Though most of the building work and investment came during the reign of his descendants, Henry III and Edward III.

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Edward, who was born at the Castle, famously created the Order of the Knights of the Garter, now the world’s oldest and most prestigious national orders of chivalry. The Order is based at Windsor’s vast St George’s Hall.

The iconic State Banquet is still held in St George’s Hall, and the Castle is often used to host visits from overseas monarchs and national leaders.

Much of it remains visitable, when not in Royal use, including the stunning State Apartments and the expansive St George’s Chapel.

The Chapel holds the body of deposed ruler Charles I. One of ten former Kings interred in the Chapel crypts, Charles I was executed in 1649, following the English Civil War.

After the Civil War years, Windsor fell under the control of the British government, with Oliver Cromwell often staying here.

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It was after the Castle was returned to Royal hands that much of the opulence on show today was added, including the 5km tree-lined Long Walk through the Great Park.

One of the most popular daily events at the Castle is the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

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The black-hatted guardsmen are all current Army servicemembers tasked with defending the Royal family. The Guardsmen are stationed at the nearby Victoria Barracks, and are joined in their march towards the Castle by a military band.

You can catch the ceremony between 1100AM and 1130AM.

Must See:

The iconic Queen Mary’s Dollhouse is a scale model designed by leading architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The house contains taps with running water, electrified lifts, miniature bottles of real red wine, and tiny cars with working engines.

Fox’s Fact:

The Royal Family slept in reinforced bedrooms at Windsor Castle during The Blitz bombings of WWII.

This was kept secret, with the British public still believing the Family to be at their usual residence, Buckingham Palace.  The Queen still spends much of her time here.

Take a look at the flagpole above the iconic Round Tower. If the pole is bearing the royal colours, the Queen is currently staying on the grounds. If the blue, white and red of the Union Jack is flying, the Castle is unoccupied.

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Admission:

Windsor Castle is open daily from 9.30am until 5.30pm from March to October and 9.45am to 4.15pm from November to February.

Click here for more information and ticket prices.

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