Windsor Castle: The World's Biggest and Oldest Inhabited Castle - WanderWisdom - Travel
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Windsor Castle: The World's Biggest and Oldest Inhabited Castle

Queen Victoria stands majestic, proud and watchful before one of her former homes

Queen Victoria stands majestic, proud and watchful before one of her former homes

Windsor Castle is an official residence of the reigning British monarch and is both the biggest and the oldest permanently inhabited castle, anywhere in the world. Although Buckingham Palace may better represent the public face of the monarchy and is almost certainly more widely known, Windsor Castle predates Her Majesty's Central London residence by many centuries and has consequently a rich and fascinating history all its own. Windsor Castle is found in the town of Windsor, within easy reach of London, and represents the perfect choice for a day trip for visitors to the capital of the United Kingdom.

Please note that all photographic images incorporated in this work were taken personally by - and remain the sole property of - the author.

Where is Windsor Castle?

A Brief Historical Guide to Windsor Castle

The origins of Windsor Castle go back to the 11th Century AD, shortly after the Norman Conquest of England. William I (William the Conqueror) wanted a ring of fortifications and defences which would help protect London, each one about a day's march away. Windsor Castle was built to help guard the Western approaches, along the banks of the River Thames.

Windsor Castle has of course been added to and developed by a succession of monarchs over the intervening centuries. Probably the most significant addition was what is now St George's Chapel. In the chapel are buried a number former monarchs, including Henry VIII, Charles I and the father of Queen Elizabeth II, George VI.

In November 1992 a fire broke out in the State Apartments of Windsor Castle, caused by the heat from a spotlight igniting a curtain. Fortunately, the fire caused no loss of human life but damage to the castle was considerable and took many years to repair, at astronomical cost.

Windsor Castle is open to the public and tickets should be purchased from the ticket office on Castle Hill, across from the Henry VIII Gate, where visitors will enter.


Inside the Grounds of Windsor Castle

The cost of admission to Windsor Castle entitles you to explore a large part of the grounds inside the castle walls, as well as to see some of the treasures and breathtaking rooms and hallways inside the castle proper. Photography is not permitted inside the castle buildings but no such restrictions obviously apply in the open air. Note that areas to which visitors are admitted in Windsor Castle will vary depending upon what events are taking place at what it must be remembered is a functioning and working royal residence. Admission prices are adjusted downwards at more restricted times.

The inner sanctum of Windsor Castle is split in to three sections, or wards. The Lower Ward (where you will enter) contains St George's Chapel, the Middle Ward is dominated by the Round Tower and the Upper Ward contains the main royal apartments.

Looking Out Across the Kingdom from the North Terrace

For nigh on a millennium, successive English and (post 1603) British monarchs have looked out across their Kingdom from Windsor Castle

For nigh on a millennium, successive English and (post 1603) British monarchs have looked out across their Kingdom from Windsor Castle

Just In Case You Should Forget at Any Time Who Lives Here...

The external lamp fittings serve as a permanent reminder of who calls Windsor Castle home...

The external lamp fittings serve as a permanent reminder of who calls Windsor Castle home...

Enjoyed your Day at Windsor Castle? Fancy a Stroll Along the Banks of the Thames?

The River Thames at Windsor is a very different proposition from the River Thames in Central London. Its green and leafy banks are perfect for a leisurely stroll on a summer's evening and are lined with many restaurants and cafes at which to enjoy a meal, snack or just a relaxing drink. River cruises are available at certain times, or you may simply wish to admire some of the beautiful craft you will see slipping by.

Have You Ever Visited Windsor Castle?

Thank you for viewing this page about Windsor castle. Hopefully, you found it interesting and informative. Any feedback which you have may be left in the space below.

Comments

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 19, 2012:

Thank you, ukdementia

ukdementia from UK on January 18, 2012:

Nice pictures, and nice hub.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 18, 2012:

Hi, JamaGenee - and thank you very much for this extensive information! I do remember the furore regarding Her Majesty the Queen and taxation around this time but certainly didn't know (or perhaps I simply don't remember) all the wonderful details you have provided.

I really appreciate you taking the time to add this information.

Best wishes and many thanks,

Gordon

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 18, 2012:

Gordon, I don't think it was charging that started after the fire, but that the Queen began paying taxes. There was a huge bruhaha about Brit taxpayers footing the bill for restoring the fire-damaged sections when the Queen paid NO taxes at all. Of course, most of the monarch's "wealth" is entailed, i.e. the castles and other residences, furnishings, priceless paintings, etc, can't be sold or mortgaged. Each monarch is only their caretaker during his/her life. The Queen, however, does have a private income from her racehorses and the races they win, plus various other endeavors she (and Philip) have invested in. It was this money Brits wanted taxed, so a deal was struck that she would pay taxes on this money for the first time in her life in exchange for Parliament agreeing to pay the costs of restoration from public funds. Actually, not all the costs were paid by taxpayers. Some of it came from private donations to philanthropic groups calling themselves "Friends of Windsor Castle" (or something similar) set up for the purpose.

Because of the fire, though, many heretofore private parts of Windsor AND Buckingham Palace were opened to the public for the first time, but only during the Queen's vacations to Scotland, etc. Naturally, there was a charge for visiting these areas, and that's why some people might think charging didn't start until *after* the fire. There was always a (nominal) charge for tours of the public areas, but neither was ever at the top of the "must see" list until the private areas were opened up. Mostly because photos of the public areas were readily available in guidebooks and travel brochures, as well as on royal websites?

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 18, 2012:

Thank you, prasetio. I hope you do get to see the Castle for yourself some day.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 17, 2012:

This was awesome. Thank you very much to introduce this castle to me and I really enjoy all pictures here. I hope I can visit this castle one day. Rated up and interesting.

Prasetio

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Thanks, Les Trois Chenes. I thought the crowned light is a great touch but when I was taking the photo that appears above, I actually heard one lady describe it to her husband as, "Tacky!" Opinions vary, I suppose, as always...

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Thank you, John and Joyie!

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Hi, JamaGenee. It sounds as though you also had a great trip to Windsor and visited many of the places I did. I think I know the hotel you mean but I'm not sure of the name. On the day these photos were taken, we ate lunch and dinner at two different restaurants on the riverbanks. I would definitely be interested in reading your Hub and seeing your take on this beautiful place.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Hi, hypnosis4u2. It is definitely a beautiful and historic town. The reality is that one day is not enough to see the castle and all the town has to offer. Thanks for commenting.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Hi, beccas90. Yes, Windsor racecourse is still there and a popular summer racing venue. It was a course I always meant to visit when I lived in West London but sadly never got round to it. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Hi, My Minds Eye. Thanks and with regard to inside photos, it was unfortunately made quite clear they were not permitted.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Thank you ithabise and I hope you make it.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Fingers crossed for you, klidstone1970 and thanks.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Hi, Nell. Thanks. I think I know the mausoleum you mean. I may be wrong but I think the charging started after the fire, as a means of recouping some of the reparation costs. Would that be right? The security issue is sad but a sign of our times. Seeing armed police walking around with assault rifles made me feel as though I was in a foreign country.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Thanks, Night Magic and I hope you get to make that visit.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 17, 2012:

Thanks, randomcreative!

Les Trois Chenes from Videix, Limousin, South West France on January 16, 2012:

Love your photos of the chapel and the crowned street light is a real treat!

John and Joyie on January 16, 2012:

Congratulations on your hub! Informative and well written.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 16, 2012:

I spent a birthday in Windsor, the town and the castle. Went out from Waterloo-London on a butt-crack-of-dawn train and alighted at the station next to the river while the town was still asleep. My first thought on seeing (part of) the castle looming above was how HUGE it is! Walked over to the Windsor-Eton bridge, which was totally deserted at that hour, then went up the hill to the (White Harte?) hotel for breakfast. Once inside the castle, just missed the Queen leaving for London. Drats! Anyway, it's a day AND a place I'll never forget! Great photos! Maybe I'll do a hub with some of my own. ;D

hypnosis4u2 from Massachusetts on January 16, 2012:

Well-deserved hub of the day Gordon. Yes, the pictures are great but enjoyed reading about the town as well. Narrow streets and everything looks small except for the castle.

beccas90 from New York on January 16, 2012:

Windsor used to have a lovely small racecourse when I lived there wonder if it is still there? Very fond memories of the area and of course the castle. Many thanks for great hub Gordon.

Maude Keating from Tennessee on January 16, 2012:

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day!

I was hoping there would be inside photos. Are you not allowed to photograph inside the walls?

Great hub.

Michael S from Danville, VA on January 16, 2012:

Fantastic! Well-written and deservedly Hub of the Day. The photos are wonderful, as is their subject. I hope to visit one day.

இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу from Niagara Region, Canada on January 16, 2012:

Fingers crossed that one day I as well can visit such a lovely place.

Nell Rose from England on January 16, 2012:

Hi, loved this! I have been there many times, and still find it amazing. St. Georges Chapel is my favorite place to wander through, there is a particular mausoleum in there that is so ancient it gives you the chills, I think it was 14th century? I always remember going there when I was young, and of course it was free to get in then, I was shocked when I went back a couple of years ago to see all the security gates etc, but times move on. the one thing that I always remember doing is walking around in that little garden in the middle by the tower, sadly I don't think you can now, but this was great, your photos really did it justice, wonderful!

Night Magic from Canada on January 16, 2012:

Excellent hub. Good info with amazing pictures. I'm definitely voting this one up. I've never seen the castle but I will hopefully in the near future.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 16, 2012:

Just came back to say congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 16, 2012:

Thank you, Sherry. Glad you liked it.

Thanks, Emma. You live in a beautiful part of the world! :)

Thank you, Suzette. Glad you had the opportunity to visit the castle, see it for yourself and know what an impressive place it really is.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on January 16, 2012:

Yes, I have visited Windsor Castle and the quaint city of Windsor back in the 80's when I was in London. We took a day trip to Windsor and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this magnificent castle and town. It should not be missed.

Your photos are beautiful and outstanding and do the castle justice. Congratulations on this being named Hub of the Day!

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on January 16, 2012:

Great hub on such an impressive castle. I live near to Windsor and love the place. Voting up!

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 16, 2012:

Great hub, congratulations on hub of the day!

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 16, 2012:

Thanks, ScentsforCandles and mapeo.

I hope you get to visit and yes, the modern day bills must be extortionate! :)

ScentsForCandles from Utah on January 16, 2012:

Very interesting. I love castles.

I can't believe how big this one is. The heating bill must be killer ;)

mapeo from Poland on January 16, 2012:

We have to go to England to do some sightseeing :) Great text :)

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on January 16, 2012:

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and congratulations.

Becky, I hope your dream of visiting comes true and that you get to see where your ancestors originated. London has many great attractions but there is so much else to see around the country.

Glad you liked it, Thelma. It is certainly a great day out and is more than worth a visit.

I hope you get to visit, PrettyWater.

If you love castles, Harsheen, Windsor Castle is certain to provide you with a fantastic visitor experience. It combines ancient history with the realities of being a modern day Royal residence.

Glad you liked the information, wonderwoolley. The history associated with this ancient castle could fill many volumes and is a fascinating subject to research.

It's awe inspiring, James, to see the final resting places of more than a dozen former monarchs. Standing looking at the grave of Henry VIII - such a prominent historical figure - was a strange feeling in itself.

JamesPoppell on January 16, 2012:

Wow - I did not know former monarch's were buried in St. George's chapel. Also, those are some great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

wonderingwoolley from Madison, WI on January 16, 2012:

This was a great little history lesson and tour. I've never been, but I would love to, and I'll be more knowledgeable since I've read your hub. Congratulations on being the Hub of the Day!

Harsheen K. on January 16, 2012:

I can't say how much I love castles ... amazing hub and great pictures!

PrettyWater from Big Lake, Minnesota on January 16, 2012:

Lovely post thank you very much. I have never been there but hope to one day.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on January 16, 2012:

Hi Gordon! I have been to Windsor Castle before and it was amazing. I did enjoy my visit for I love the history behind each castle. Great hub and the photos are very well taken. Voted up. Congrats for the hub of the day!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on January 16, 2012:

Congratulations on Hub of the Day. Beautiful hub, I must say. I would love to visit the UK and I would probably spend the least amount of time in London. I have traced my family tree back and would love to visit the places where they lived.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 30, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, kingphilipIV. I hope that you get to visit the castle some day.

Ramphil Basco from Iloilo, Philippines on November 30, 2011:

I want to visit this place.. Windsor Castle.. Very great..

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 22, 2011:

Hi, Tony. Thanks for the visit and comment. You make a good point about regional variations and I think it is definitely a good idea for anyone to write a Hub about their own locale or place they have visited. Interesting analogy about the moon and the planets but very true. Sadly, however, so many British people don't even realise the diversity of landscapes and places they have fairly ready access to, never mind people from overseas. Look forward to reading your upcoming travel Hubs! :) Cheers, Gordon

Tony Mead from Yorkshire on November 22, 2011:

HI Gordon

Interesting hub and insight into the Royal families weekend cottage. I think you have done enough to give an insight into this royal abode, your photos are representative of the area too. good hub, perhaps we should all do more regional hubs. When I was in the leisure industry many people especially Americans would say,'I've been to England, I visited London." Which is a little like saying I've seen the moon so I know all the planets. Britain has such wonderful and diverse history and topography. When I worked in Russia, they could not understand how such a small island could have so many different landscapes. cheers Tony

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 18, 2011:

Thanks again, stessily. I'll see what photos I manage to unearth and River Clyde themed Hubs are definitely a future prospect.

Thanks, randomcreative. I hope your dream of visiting comes true.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 17, 2011:

Thanks for all of the stunning photos! I would love to visit this site someday.

stessily on November 17, 2011:

Gordon, I'm sure that with the finesse that you display in your hubs, whether cooking or cultural history, etc., that your less-than-current photos are still eminently usable!

And the River Clyde is another historic river in the UK, with a Scottish accent! So should you think of similar hubs along the Clyde, they also would certainly be fascinating.:-)

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 17, 2011:

Hi again, stessily. Thank you for coming back and for the compliment :) I very much hope to do more Hubs of this type on the area of the Thames. I am presently engaged in what has unfortunately become the mammoth task of sorting through my huge collection of travel photos and will certainly use any relevant ones I find in Hubs of this nature. As I now live a long way from London and the Thames (the Clyde is my local major river now) I don't have the option of taking new ones of the areas at this time.

Thanks, Simone! I'm sorry you never made it to Windsor Castle this time round. It's a great day out in many respects, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it was on the day these photos were taken. I hope you manage to fit it in to your schedule on your next visit! :)

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on November 17, 2011:

What beautiful photos! I wanted to visit Windsor Castle when I was in London this summer but got distracted with other things. I suppose I shall just have to go back!! Thanks for sharing more about the castle's background along with your visiting tips- this is going to be a great reference point for me as I plan future UK travels!

stessily on November 17, 2011:

Gordon, There is so much history associated with the Thames which isn't just restricted to London. I hope that perhaps you will consider doing a hub (or hubs) on the "beautiful towns and villages further upstream which show an entirely different side of the landscape." Much as I respect London's historic grandeur, I am oftentimes drawn to the life beyond its borders.:-) You have shown that you are an excellent tour guide of cultural history, so, added to my hope list, is the hope that you do more.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 16, 2011:

Thank you, Paradise 7, for stopping by. It seems that the crown on the lamppost picture is proving popular - I must admit, I do love it myself! I suppose a lot of our culture and ancestry is shared by a great many Americans and that may explain the common interests :)

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on November 16, 2011:

I love the crown on top of the lamppost pic. I, like many Americans, am a secret Anglophile.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 16, 2011:

Hi, Stessily. I very much hope your dream comes true to devote those endless days! It's a shame that so many people think of the River Thames in terms only of flowing through London. There are so many beautiful towns and villages further upstream which show an entirely different side of the landscape, not that far at all from Central London. You are equally right, however, regarding the importance and the relevance of the Thames in general to the wider world at large.

Thank you very much for your visit and comment.

stessily on November 16, 2011:

Gordon, I would love to devote endless days in a visit to the Royal Library Collection and hope to be allowed to peruse Leonardo da Vinci's drawings!

Well presented with wonderfully nice photos. I too have a partiality for the lamp crowns, which are regal and say it all.

I also especially enjoyed the photos of the Thames, which I consider to be one of the most historic waterways in the world; so much has happened there, not just for the UK; for example, the voyages of discovery of the New World all started with ships sailing along the Thames, and Lord Franklin's lost expedition set sail on the Thames.

This excursion reminds me of the historic treasure which is known as UK. Thank you.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on November 16, 2011:

Hi, NMLady. Wow - that is indeed impressive! I'm glad you enjoy your visits and hope you have many more of them. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Thank you also acc12 for your visit and comment. It is a very photogenic place and the hardest part can often be picking through your photos later for the best ones. The crown on the lamps is impressive, yes, and a very regal touch.

acc12 on November 16, 2011:

Loved this hub about Windsor Castle. So many nice photos; I especially liked the picture of the lamppost with the crown on top! Thanks for taking us on this excursion.

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on November 16, 2011:

Oh my yes! I have visited it four times! This is a fair amount for someone who lives in the SW part of the USA. I have such a lovely time when I visit. I learn more at each visit, too.

I also love the V & A Museum.

Thanks for this article!