House of Windsor’s Historic Country Palace Castle
Windsor Castle just to the west of London is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world with Queen Elizabeth Windsor Regina its principal resident. The current British royal family “the Windsors” took their name from the castle, and not the other way around. The original fortified castle is most distinctive for its circular Round Tower keep in the heart of the complex first built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, but the castle has gone through some serious redecorating and has grown considerably in floor space since then. The Queen spends many of her weekends at the castle and her presence can be noted by whether the royal standard is flying above the round tower. Visiting the royal House of Windsor family home provides an opportunity to see how the other half lives. Explore the castle grounds or take an audio tour. The areas of the castle that can be visited will change depending on whether the queen is home or if special activities are scheduled.
The State Apartments are furnished in lavish royal style decorated by selections from the English Royal Art Collection on display with masterpieces by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Holbein along with magnificent English and French period furniture, silver and porcelain. The personal Windsor collection is one of the world’s richest and the castle is a living museum. The Semi-State rooms the private living rooms added by King George IV are some of the most richly decorated interiors in the castle. They are only open in the fall to the spring, being rather in use during the summer. The “Long Walk” approach through Windsor Park provides one of the most spectacular castle views.
St. George’s Chapel in late gothic style is one of the most opulent church buildings in England with the burial plots of ten kings including Henry VIII and the beheaded Charles I, though I wonder if he needs two separate boxes. Here can also be found a portrait of King Edward III along with a sword purportedly belonging to the 14th Century Plantagenet monarch who began the British Order of the Garter, now the most exclusive society of England nobility with ceremonies held in opulent glory on occasion at Windsor.
The Doll Collection at Windsor is one of the most popular public attractions and for a royal house in miniature; Queen Mary’s Dolls House is one of the most famous in the world. Children are not allowed to play with it, but 1,500 craftsmen built this miniature lavish house for royal dolls with electric lights, hot and cold running showers and even flushing toilets. I bet even Ken and Barbie suffer from royal envy.
Visiting Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is about an hour from London by car on the M4 and is not far from the Heathrow for one of the first spots to visit upon flying in to the country. By rail you can get to the castle from London Waterloo Station and Paddington Station. A bus leaves daily for Windsor from Victoria Station. Take the Green Line. Open hours are daily from 9:45 am to 5:15 pm March to October with last admission at 4 pm, and 9:45am to 4:15pm November to February with the last admissions at 3 pm (an hour fifteen before closing). An average visit lasts 2 to 3 hours.
Prices for Windsor Castle are £18.50 for adults - under 17 £11. A Family ticket (including 2 adults and 3 kids under 17) can be had for £48.00. Admission prices for the castle tour will be reduced if the State Apartments are closed, which can happen on short notice. And your first admission allows you to register for unlimited returns throughout the year. The castle is administered by the Royal Collection Trust which also is responsible for the Royal Mews and Queens Gallery at Buckingham Palace. If you want to see the mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, you’ll have visit Frogmore House nearby, but that’s a separate bus tour with no access for private cars. Check with the Windsor ticket office. The Village of Windsor offers shopping opportunities as well as food and drink. Cruises of the River Thames are available at the river docks a ten minute walk from the castle entrance. © Bargain Travel Europe
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Windsor Royal Collection
These articles are copyrighted and the sole property of Bargain Travel Europe and WLPV, LLC. and may not be copied or reprinted without permission. Photos Courtesy Royal Collection Mark Fiennes.
TOWER OF LONDON