Windsor, England

Since the late 11th century, this small town has been the residence of kings and queens. Windsor Castle is one of the top destinations in England. Then stay to explore the surroundings of the former New Windsor.

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1 Arriving at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

Windsor Castle is a must-do day trip while visiting England. The 13-acre royal estate is about a half-hour train ride from London and then a short walk from Windsor Central Station. Your first glimpse is the western curtain wall constructed during the mid-13th century by King Henry III. This defense stands 100 feet and is 13 feet thick. On the left is Curfew Tower, a former medieval dungeon, built circa 1230. The belfry was originally part of the College of St. George and moved here in 1478. The clock was replaced in 1689. All of these features were restored in 1863. On the right is the Garter Tower. Its namesake is the knights of the Order of the Garter. Now hurry along. You haven’t come to the best parts yet.

Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

2 King Henry VIII Gate at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

King Henry VIII was one of the most colorful English monarchs. He received numerous noble titles while spending much of his childhood at Winsor Castle. He was crowned at the age of 17 in 1509. Within a couple months, he married his first of six wives, Catherine of Aragon. A year later, he commissioned this primary entrance into the Lower Ward. When King Henry VIII died in 1547, he was buried a few steps from this gate in the floor of the choir inside St. George’s Chapel. Interred next to him is Jane Seymour. She was his third wife of one year. She died in 1537 shortly after giving birth to the future Edward VI.

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3 Building Phases of Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

The Windsor Castle seen today is an amalgamation of building projects dating back to the 11th century. Here are a few of them. William the Conqueror, the Norman King of England, was the first to build a motte-and-bailey stronghold at Windsor. Henry III added a palace before dying in 1272. King Edward III instituted a system of taxation to pay for his lavish expansions during the 14th century. Charles I, the Merry Monarch, commissioned a huge enlargement while the King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 – 1649. Two other monarchs, George III and George IV, conducted significant enhancements during their collective reigns from 1760 through 1830. The last restoration occurred after a fire in 1992. This is the southwest façade along Castle Hill Road.

Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

4 Henry III and Saxon Towers at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

In their hurry to get inside the castle, most people give this ensemble a passing glance. On the left is the King Henry III Tower. Also called Henry of Winchester, he reigned for 56 years during the 13th century. From 1240 through 1263, the monarch ordered the building of an extravagant palace in the Upper Ward for himself and his queen, Eleanor of Province. On the right is the Saxon Tower. It now houses administrative offices for the castle.

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5 Towers near St. George’s Gate at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

The Long Walk was constructed during the reign of Charles II (1630 – 1685). The avenue stretches for three miles. Your stroll from the visitors’ center is considerably shorter. Before passing through the archway on the left called St. George’s Gate, take a few moments to savor the backside of the South Wing. Among the structures you can admire are (left to right) King Edward III Tower, Lancaster Tower and York Tower.

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6 State Apartments at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

Windsor Castle has been the residence of monarchs since Henry I in the early 12th century, making it Europe’s oldest palace still in use. The State Apartments define the northern side of The Quadrangle in the Upper Ward. Seen here are the official entrance, St. George’s Hall and the guest entrance. These lavish accommodations were begun by Edward III in the 14th century and transformed by architect Hugh May for Charles II in the 17th century. They were further enhanced during the reign of King George III (1760 – 1820). Then his son and successor, George IV, hired Jeffry Wyatville to embellish the rooms in an array of architectural styles. Queen Elizabeth II frequently spends weekends here, as well as a month around Easter and one week in June during the service of the Order of the Garter. The Royal Standard is raised above the Round Tower when Her Majesty is in residence.

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7 The Round Tower at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

The Round Tower is located on top of a 50 foot, manmade hill or motte. This position is the demarcation between the Upper and Lower Wards. This is why it is often called the Middle Ward. The constable, who heads the garrison in charge of defending the castle, lived in the upper floor apartments. Historically, this role included being governor and head of the court. Inside of this keep are several rooms including a guard chamber and dining room. The Round Tower dates back to the 12th century. An additional 30 feet were added to its height during the early 19th century.

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8 Winchester Tower at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

Anchoring the west end of the North Terrace is Winchester Tower. Others call this Wykeham Tower. These names recognize William of Wykeham, the former Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England. He was the primary administrator for the construction of the Upper Ward commissioned by King Edward III starting in 1357. The tower is at the beginning of the North Terrace, a promenade extending about half of the castle’s northern wall. This walkway was ordered by Queen Elizabeth I, the sister of Edward VI. She reigned from 1558 through 1603. When the Bubonic Plague began to ravish London, Queen Elizabeth I took refuge at Windsor Castle beginning in 1563. The North Terrace accommodated her desire for daily exercise.

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9 Norman Gate at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

During most of the reign of Edward III from 1327 until he died in 1377, the king went on a spending spree to enlarge his beloved castle where he was born in 1312. He commissioned architect William of Wykeham to design a lavish palace in the Upper Ward consisting of several halls, gatehouses and towers. One example was the Norman Gate. The name recognizes the lineage of four Norman Kings starting with William the Conquer in 1066 and ending with Stephen in 1154. The position of the Norman Gate at the base of the North Terrace was designed to defend the adjacent Round Tower and the west entrance to the Royal State Apartments. Norman Gate was also a prison during the reign of Charles I.

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10 Queen Mary’s Doll House at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

The center of this photo is Norman Gate. The pathway on the right encircles the Round Tower. On the left is the North Terrace. Follow it and you will be rewarded with a marvelous exhibit called Queen Mary’s Doll House. Architect Sir Edwin Lutyen and about 1,500 artisans devoted four years creating this 1:12 scale replica of an aristocrat’s home. The mini-architecture is so detailed it includes rooms with Victorian furniture, over 700 pieces of art, a library filled with classic books, a wine cellar stocked with bottles, a garage with parked limousines and even restrooms with hot and cold running water plus flushing toilets. This was gifted to Queen Mary, the consort of King George V, in 1924.

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11 HMS Lutine Cannon at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

The HMS Lutine was a frigate in the Royal Navy. In 1799, the warship sunk during a storm near the West Frisian Islands off Netherlands’ coast. Her large cargo of gold and silver was insured by Lloyd’s of London. Salvage efforts continued through 1938 yet only about 20% of the estimated ₤1.2 million in precious metal was recovered. After this cannon, one of 38 onboard, was reclaimed from the bottom of the North Sea in 1886, the insurance company presented it to Queen Victoria. The cast-iron smoothbore is now on display along the North Terrace of Windsor Castle.

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12 St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

The first Chapel of St. George was built within Windsor Castle by King Edward I during the 13th century. Unsatisfied with his grandfather’s efforts, King Edward III had the chapel rebuilt in the Lower Ward circa 1337. However, it was Edward IV who started the present building in 1475 during his second reign as England’s king. The Royal Chapel was not completed until 1528 during the rule of Henry VIII. Several monarchs and their queens plus princes and princesses are buried here. The chapel’s namesake is Saint George. He was a Roman soldier who was executed in 303 for not recanting his Christian beliefs. He is also England’s patron saint.

3 The Cloisters, Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

13 St. George’s Chapel Close Up at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

St. George’s Chapel was built as the mother church for the Most Noble Order of the Garter, an honor of chivalry established in 1348 by King Edward III. The existing 24 members still celebrate the Garter Service here every June. This splendid façade is called Perpendicular Gothic. The style is characterized by enormous windows containing stained glass and slim mullions. Also notice the buttresses flanking the tracery panels on the top level. Other buildings at the castle with a similar style were designed by architects John Sponlee and William Wynford.

3 The Cloisters, Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

14 Town of Windsor, England

The name Windsor has become synonymous with the castle. However, this delightful town located about 20 miles west of London in the Royal County of Berkshire has a lot more to offer visitors. During the 11th century, it was called Windlesora in reference to its position near the Thames River. In the late 12th century, it was divided into Old Windsor and New Windsor. The word “New” was dropped in 1974. This elevated view of the town is adjacent to the castle. Scroll through the photos to see some of this destination’s landmarks and attractions.

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15 Terrier on Throne at Windsor, England

About 39 monarchs have lived at Windsor Castle during the last 1,000 years. This terrier sitting on a chair at a Windsor Royal Shopping Centre restaurant seems convinced he is a member of the royal family if not the next king in residence. Life is good as a ruler or a rich man’s dog.

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16 Shopping Alternatives at Windsor, England

Where there are tourists with credit cards there are retailers and Windsor is no exception. The most historic locale is the Windsor Royal Shopping Centre. This complex of 40 stores occupies most of the Victorian, red brick Windsor & Eton Central Station constructed in 1849. Some passenger trains still operate here. Another option is King Edward Court, a pedestrian-only street lined with shops but lacking charm. Peascod Street, Lower Peascod Street and High Street are more attractive alternatives.

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17 Queen Victoria Statue at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England

This bronze statue of Victoria was erected on Castle Hill Road in 1887 to help celebrate her Golden Jubilee as Queen of the United Kingdom. The monarch’s reign continued for over 63 years until her death in 1901. She was interred at Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park. The Victorian Era was a period of great prosperity for the British. Sculptor Sir Edgar Boehm portrayed Her Majesty holding the scepter and orb with cross, symbols of her sovereignty.

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18 Horse-drawn Carriage at Windsor, England

Over seven million people visit the town of Windsor annually with about 11% staying over at least one night. For a town of about 27,000 residents, this is an incredible inflow of tourisms. So obviously there are lots of attractions like a horse and buggy ride catering to domestic and international quests. Over 7,000 local people are employed in some aspect of hospitality.

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19 Windsor Guildhall at Windsor, England

New Windsor was considered to be a market town. This designation meant it was given royal permission to conduct trade. This was confirmed by King Edward I’s charter during the late 13th century. However, Windsor’s first merchant guild had already been established in 1369. The current guildhall was constructed in the late 17th century based on a design by Sir Thomas Fitz. It was subsequently expanded in 1829. The building is famous as the venue of two weddings in 2005: Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles plus the controversial ceremony between Sir Elton John and David Furnish on the day the Civil Partnership Act became legal in the U.K. They were legally married in Windsor in 2014.

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20 Parish Church at Windsor, England

The first St. John the Baptist Church was erected in New Windsor during the reign of Norman King Henry I during the early 12th century. In 1820, architect Charles Hollis was employed to design a replacement. The current Parish Church – affiliated with the Church of England – was consecrated in 1822. It was expanded in 1870 and again in 1898.

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21 St. George’s School at Windsor, England

St. George’s School was established in 1348 during the reign of King Edward III. Its mission was to train a boy’s choir for St. George’s Chapel located nearby in Windsor Castle. The choristers have sung in the Royal Chapel every day since 1352. It is now also a coeducational prep school for children ages 3 to 13. It seems entirely appropriate that its front gate resembles a castle.

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