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Windsor Castle: The World's Biggest and Oldest Inhabited Castle

Gordon is a British writer and content producer. He writes principally on the subjects of food and drink, sea fishing and travel.

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.

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 that 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 of 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 an 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 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 into 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.

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

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?

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© 2011 Gordon Hamilton