Windsor Castle

by | Nov 11, 2020 | Castles

Where is Windsor Castle?

Windsor Castle which is a royal residence is located in Berkshire in England. The castle occupies a total of 13 acres. Windsor Castle is the largest castle in Europe with the second largest being Caerphilly castle.

Castle history

The original castle that was built here was built by William the conqueror in 1076 a decade after the Norman conquest of 1066. Windsor Castle was part of a series of castles all built within 20 miles of each other. 

Windsor Castle was a motte and bailey design castle that was strategically built. It was purposely built near the river and forestry. The river was one of the main links into London, and the forestry was used for hunting purposes by Saxon royalty.

The first castle was built out of wood and consisted of a keep which was built on top of a man-made mound or as it was otherwise known a motte. A small bailey wall protected the motte. At the east of the keep was a second bailey wall and then a third was added to the west. Windsor castle closely resembled Arundel castle in West Sussex, but it also bore similarities to Rockingham and also Alnwick Castle.

Windsor wasn’t always used as a royal residence, Henry I first used it in 1110 when he celebrated Whitsuntide. Henry also held his wedding there when he married Adelicia of Louvain in 1121.

It was during this time the motte had suffered from substantial subsidence. It had dropped as much as 6ft causing much of the keep to collapse.  In order to support the motte wooden timbers were driven in and the wooden keep was replaced with a stone one and a low protective wall was added for extra support.

 Henry II came to power in 1154, and During 1165-1179 he made lots of changes to Windsor replacing wooden structures for stone and fixing parts of the castle suffering from subsidence. Over many many years, the castle was built upon and expanded becoming the castle that it is today if you want to see what the original Windsor castle would have looked like you can take a look at this artist’s impression

1992 Fire at Windsor Castle

A major fire broke out at Windsor Castle on the 20th of November in 1992. The fire lasting for around 15 hours caused significant damage to the upperward destroying nine staterooms and causing serious damage to a further 100.  

Cause of the fire

It is believed that during a renovation project of the state apartments one of the spotlights that were being used started the blaze when it set fire to a curtain. Luckily many of the adjacent rooms had been emptied during the renovation which ended up saving a lot of the artwork. Restoration work after the fire was completed by 1997  and the cost of restoring the castle after the fire was around £35 million.

Is Windsor Castle worth visiting?

Yes, it is definitely worth visiting, not just to experience the enormity of the place but to immerse yourself in the 1,000 years of history that it holds.

How many rooms are in Windsor Castle?

There are a whopping 1,000 rooms at Windsor; I can’t even begin to calculate the time it takes to clean each of them, especially as I’ve visited and seen the contents of it, mind-blowing! There are also 500 people living and working in Windsor castle.

How much is entry to Windsor Castle?

Standard entrance to the castle is; 

  • Adults £23.50 each
  • Over 60 £21.20 each
  • Under 17 / Disabled  £13.50 each
  • Student £21.20 each
  • Under 5 Free
  • Family ticket based on two adults and three under 17s £60.50

If the state apartments are closed, then you can purchase reduced priced tickets.

Reduced ticket prices are;

  • Adult £12.90 each
  • Over 60 / Student £11.70 each
  • Under 17 / Disabled £7.40 each
  • Under 5 Free
  • Family ticket based on two adults and three under 17s £33.20

Can you visit Windsor Castle for free?

Yes and no. You will need to pay for the initial cost of a ticket, but you can gain free entry for up to one year afterwards. Provided you purchased your ticket directly from the royal collection trust you can convert your ticket into a one year pass, by requesting they treat your ticket as a donation. To find out more information about converting your ticket, please visit the royal collection trust.

Can I go inside Windsor Castle?

Yes, you can go inside Windsor Castle. 

What can you see inside Windsor Castle?

  • Changing the Guard
  • St George’s Chapel
  • The State Apartments
  • Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House
  • State Rooms
  • Fine art
  • The China Museum

Can you take photos in Windsor Castle?

No, you cannot take photos or videos inside the castle, and it is requested that you turn off your mobile phone on entry. You are allowed to take pictures of the outside and in the surrounding gardens. 

What is the best time to visit Windsor Castle?

The best time to visit is around 11.00-11.30, the changing of the guard takes place at around these times. Only the guard is allowed to leave the castle so after the guard leaves hoards of people tend to spill out onto the street returning to their tour coach.

Where do you park when visiting Windsor Castle?

When visiting Windsor it is recommended to use one of the long-stay car parks, these include:

• Romney Lock and King Edward VII car parks on Datchet Road

• Alma Road and Alexandra Gardens, next to the Coach Park

They are all a ten-minute walk from the castle but are better priced than the short stay ones.

Who has lived in Windsor Castle?

Many monarchs lived at Windsor over the last 900 years 39 of them to be precise, and 10 of them were buried there.

  • Henry I, Henry II, Henry III & Edward III
  • Henry V, Henry VII & Henry VIII
  • Edward VI, Elizabeth I & James I
  • Charles I & Charles II
  • Queen Anne and George III
  • George IV, Queen Victoria 
  • King Edward VII & King George V
  • King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II

Has Windsor Castle ever been attacked?

Yes, there were two major sieges at Windsor Castle in the early years, one of those was carried out in 1193 by Prince John. Prince John attempted to remove his brother Richard the Lionheart from the throne while he was absent. 

Barons who were noblemen and also extremely loyal to King Richard along with 500 soldiers besieged the castle. The siege lasted for two long months. With no access to food or medical supplies, John eventually surrendered; however, the castle was badly damaged.

Prince John would go on to become king in 1199 after Richard died, but by 1215 the barons had become tired of John and the way he was ruling. They rebelled against him,  leading to the creation and signing of the Magna Carta. 

Three months after John signed the Magna Carter he decided that he didn’t want to stick to it anymore and had it annulled by the pope. The barons didn’t want to give up London, and that’s when the civil war broke out. A second siege broke out at Windsor in 1216, and it is said to have lasted some three months.

Why is Windsor Castle famous?

Windsor Castle is most famous for being a weekend home to Queen Elizabeth II and the fact that it is the largest castle in Europe, next to Caerphilly castle of course which comes in at a close second. It is also famous for being the largest working castle as it is home to some 500 people. It is also a popular venue for royal gatherings, events and banquets. 

Did Queen Victoria live in Windsor Castle?

Yes, she spent most of the year living at Windsor, she also made changes to the castle putting her mark on it. She first came to Windsor when she was a child playing games in the corridors. Other events at Windsor were;

  • 20th birthday ball 
  • She proposed to Prince Albert
  • Honeymoon 
  • Prince Alfred was born
  • Five of her children were married
  • Prince Albert died
  • Her funeral

Which is bigger Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle?

Buckingham Palace is bigger than Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is 484,000 square feet, has 1000 rooms and sits on 13 acres of land, buckingham palace is 828,821 square feet, has 775 rooms and sits in 39 acres of land. 

How far away is Windsor Castle from Buckingham Palace?

Windsor Castle is around 25 miles away from Buckingham Palace, and it takes on average 50 minutes to get from one to the other.

Who owns Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle?

Many people think the queen owns Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, but that’s not the case. It is the Crown Estate that owns them, but both are made available to the queen. However, the queen does privately own Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House.

If you were able to buy Buckingham palace, it is estimated that it would cost you a cool 2.2 billion pounds! And Windsor would set you back around 180 million pounds!

What is the difference between a castle and a palace? 

Castles would be built for defensive purposes, and palaces were built for showing off wealth. If you were a king who was about to steal someone’s land and stop them from taking their lands back, then you would want to build yourself a big strong castle with defensive capabilities and fill it with soldiers to help you defend it. But if you were a king who wanted to show people how wealthy and influential you were, then you would build a palace, and fill it with servants. You wouldn’t want your palace to be hidden behind big strong walls as no one would be able to see you.

 

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