This week I headed to Windsor Castle, I might have given it a miss but for the fact the the Royal Collection was bombarding my Facebook page with adverts inviting me to come! With 5 days to go before the Royal Wedding I was excited to visit on what turned out to be a beautiful late spring day. You can read my earlier post here.
Top tip when visiting: if you can, pay online and print your ticket at home. I managed to jump two pretty horrific queues as I’d pre-paid. Also, your ticket is valid for twelve months as long as you get your ticket stamped on the day of your visit. So keep it safe and you can visit again for free within the next year.
According to the Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle is the ‘oldest and largest occupied castle in the world’. It was founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and since then thirty-nine monarchs have lived there. Edward III rebuilt the castle from the original wooden structure into the imposing stone fortress we see today.
The castle offers visitors the chance to explore its magnificent State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and St George’s Chapel. I had previously visited around fifteen years ago and had not visited the Chapel (it was a Sunday, maybe it was only open for those wishing to join a service?). So as soon as I was through the airport style security I headed for the jaw-dropping St George’s Chapel.
Outside the castle is ‘protected’ by cannons and inside it displays an impressive array of weaponry and armours including those of King Henry VIII and Henry, Prince of Wales, the son of King James VI. Photography is not allowed inside the castle. The no pictures rule is heavily policed by castle staff, who remind those taking snaps that they have transgressed.
The State Apartments are a series of elaborately decorated rooms as befits the home of the monarch. They have been modified over the years by Charles II and George IV. There was a devastating fire in November 1992 that destroyed nine rooms belonging to the State Apartments. You can read about the restoration work here. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding reception will take place in St George’s Hall, which was rebuilt after the fire of 1992.
Priceless works of art were saved from the fire as many items had been removed due to the programmed rewiring work that was taking place. Other treasures from the collection were rescued as the fire took hold and were taken outside to the quadrangle. The State Apartments boast examples of Antonio Verrio ceilings, much like those at Hampton Court Palace, seen here.
For those who love their history, Windsor is an exciting place to visit, Royal Wedding week or not. The stories of successive monarchs is entwined into the fabric of the building and this is a major draw for the tourism industry. Windsor Castle shops sell the usual sanctioned royal souvenirs you can expect from such establishments, outside the castle, you can buy all the usual touristy items (tat) that you would expect.
The castle has (at least) two postboxes, an Edward VII wall box, that I posted my postcard in, and an Elizabeth II oval box.
Images author’s own