Windsor

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Name: Windsor Palace
Location: Berkshire
Country: England
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Windsor is included in our 16 days "Best Castles of Britain and Ireland" tour. Visit our site.
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The largest in England,  Windsor Castle is one of the principal residences of the queen and covers nearly thirteen acres. The first castle on the site was set up by William the Conqueror in about 1070.

Windsor is the only royal castle that has been in continuous occupation since the Middle Ages and is the largest inhabited castle in the world. Almost every century from the 12th. to the 19th. left its mark on this great fortress.  Windsor was on of the first sites chosen by William the Conqueror for the series of fortifications built to protect his new conquest after 1066. It was one of a ring of nine castles built by him around London. William picked a superb site, a chalk outcrop rising to 30 meters (100feet) above the Thames River and commanding splendid views over the countryside for miles around. The early castle was almost certainly built of wood

Windsor began very much more simply than that. It was a motte with two baileys (one on each side) - and an aerial view today instantly reveals this plan under all the succeeding stonework. It was raised by the Conqueror in 1067 by scarping a mound out of a chalk cliff beside the Thames. 

It remained a wood and earth structure until Henry I began to convert the castle to stone by erecting a stone shell enclosure on the motte top (although there is a suggestion that this had already been done earlier). 

Windsor began very much more simply than that. It was a motte with two baileys (one on each side) - and an aerial view today instantly reveals this plan under all the succeeding stonework. It was raised by the Conqueror in 1067 by scarping a mound out of a chalk cliff beside the Thames. 

It remained a wood and earth structure until Henry I began to convert the castle to stone by erecting a stone shell enclosure on the motte top (although there is a suggestion that this had already been done earlier). 

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Henry II raised the building in the upper bailey on a quadrangular plan like Old Sarum. Some of the stone was obtained from quarries at Totternhoe in Bedfordshire. 

The shell was later refaced, probably in Henry II's time. Inside the shell, a large, slightly oval great tower was erected, with walls about 30.5 meters (100 ft) in diameter, 1.5 meters (5 ft) thick (later thickened), with pilaster buttresses some of the way up. The first height was about 10.7 meters (35 ft). The shell acted as a kind of surrounding base for the great tower. Inside the tower, timber buildings were put up against the walls, leaving a square courtyard in the center. This was much as it is today and the two-storied, oak-framed buildings contain timberwork thought to have come from the Henry II structures. The tower has been much altered, and today stands nearly 20 meters (65 ft) above the height of the old shell enclosure. 

Henry II favored Windsor and treated it as a royal home, planting a herb garden and possibly a vineyard. Henry III also favored Windsor and there is a record of an occasion when he gave the poor a meal on Good Friday. Edward II's extensive improvements included the first chapel of St George, and raising the height of the oval great tower. By the end of his reign, Windsor had become a palace and was no longer a real military structure. 

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Henry the II built the spacious new royal apartments in the 12th. century. There are still visible traces of this apartments in the basement of the present ones.  Henry II built this castle to improve its defenses he began on an outer wall with towers on the line of the original ramparts, and much of it still stands. 

King John , in 1194, rebelled against his brother King Richard I while he was out of the country.  Nobles loyal to the king besieged the castle but failed to take it

Windsor was besieged in 1216, during the Magna Carta war, but the castle withstood the siege, but it was extensively damaged.  The damage was repaired during Henry III.

Windsor Castle's vast complex of palatial apartments, its huge and glorious chapel of St George, its towers, its enormous cylindrical shell enclosure, and its curtain wall with towers and gates, extending over half a mile in a rough figure-of eight plan.  Although much has been added and altered since the end of the Middle Ages, notably by Henry VIII, George III and George IV, it still resembles to a great extent the Windsor Castle seen by medieval visitors, official and private, travelers native and foreign. And by that time it had ceased to have any military significance, had already cost more than any other castle in the British Isles - over 50,000 was spent by Edward III alone, between c_1350 and c.1377  and it had become the principal residence of the kings of England and Wales. Edward IV began to build what is still Windsor's crowning glory, and one of medieval architecture, St. George's Chapel. It was not completed until the reign Henry VII in 1528, when the beautiful fan vaulted roof was finished. Henry VIII also was responsible for the building of the main castle entrance, which bears his name.

It was in the reign of George IV that the last face lift took place. Jeffrey Wyatville was in charge of the works. He spent a million pounds on raising the tower to make it the highest tower of any castle in the kingdom. 

Windsor is still a principal royal residence and much of the castle is not open to the public. 

 

 

 

The massive keep restored by Wyatville

 

 

Michael, 18, from Minnesota, wrote:
This was one of the most spectacular buildings that I have ever seen in my life.  I was on a trip with my choir in England for 8 days and spending a day Windsor castle was well worth our time.  I used up about 2 rolls of film on this magnificent piece of architecture.  I suggest that anyone in England visit this castle.
Clare, 13, from Australia, wrote:
I am only researching Windsor Castle, but it seems like a really nice and interesting palace. I was interested to hear about the restoration of the castle after the huge fire in 1992. I would like to visit Windsor some day. I think all the people who have are very lucky.
Jonny Sandlun, 112, from Ohio, wrote:
Windsor castle is a great place. It is very fun. The crown jewels are too beutiful to imagine. Although you cant take pictures you can still buy photos and picture books. There are so many places to go. Everything is so beutiful. You can see what they used to write on and what they used to write. You can go down in the dungeons and see what they are like to. They have a lot of interesting facts about the castle too. You can talk to pigion trainers and they are very nice. Sometimes you see pigions flying all around 1 of them. You will not regret it if you go
Concepcion, 18, from USA, wrote:
Windsor Castle was splendid! I would love to live in it. The rooms are just filled with lovely colors. Just walking throw makes you feel like you live in it, It is a wonderful castle to visit.
A, 13, from Los Angeles, CA, wrote:
Windsor Castle is one of the lovliest (and most crowded) castle you'll ever go to. There are many different attractions there, like Queen Mary's doll house, the changing of the Guard, the bullet that killed Horatio Lord Nelson, and a lot more.  Advice to anyone that goes there: go there EARLY!  Crowds generally come around noon, so get there before it opens!

Lindsey, 16, from Canada, wrote:

Windsor castle is a very spectacular castle. I was visiting last summer with my god parents, and they took me to see Windsor and Buckingham. Unfortunately the line to Buckingham was about a mile long. Windsor was quite simple to get into. I am glad that I had a chance to visit inside, and out. The most memorable part of the tour was watching the guards, like in the picture, switch shifts, because they did it so strictly. They didn't slouch or lazily walk off. It was cool to watch .The rooms in the castle were all filled with gold colors and were HUGE. I can't imagine living in there, it would be horrible. It is too big for my liking, but is a castle worth a second trip. If you ever get a chance to visit, take it!
Sarah Daily, 12, from England, wrote:
Windsor castle is one of the best castles I've been in ,it was very interesting walking round ST Georges chapel, and seeing how good it looks ,even though all the old ,original stuff was burned to ashes. When I visited the castle, the Queen was in and I saw the Queen, the Queens mother, Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles, I would say visiting the castle was a very nice experience and I might go again some time.
A castle lover, 68, from Alberta, Canada, wrote:
 In the course of my life, I have made it sure that I see as many castles as possible. This is my favorite. My wife was delighted over Queen Mary's Dollhouse and so was I. It is spectacular. Please visit this castle; the memory will last a lifetime.
Gerry Meier, 40,  Missouri, wrote:
Windsor Castle was really gorgeous, but then what do you expect when you go to the Queen's house?  The day we went a lot of the buildings were closed, but it was still worthwhile.  I thought part of the fun was seeing the Royal Guards on duty and getting your picture taken next to them.  We enjoyed walking through the town of Windsor, too, with its little shops and stores.
 Brenda Wallace, 45, from New England, USA, wrote:
 Not many sections of Windsor Castle were open the day I visited, as the Queen was in residence. My British boyfriend was grumbling about the cost of admission (which I paid for) , but we both felt that St. George's Chapel alone was worth the price of admission ! We nearly didn't go in; how horrible to think we might have missed this gem ! I wouldn't be able to say I had trod on Henry VIII's grave, or looked upon the effigies of many kings and queens. The only sad part is that no photos are allowed (Don't try to cheat; the guards are VERY vigilant). I didn't buy the guidebook as John continues to complain about costs, but next time I shall ! And no, he is no longer in my life !
Krista Morine, 18, from Canada, qrote:
Huge Castle!  Queen Anne's dollhouse is a must see, and the suits of armour on display are great. I went for Prince William's conformation and the entire Royal Family was in residence! I saw Prince William, Prince Harry, the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Princess Diana five months before she died. The place is so big, try not to get lost, and if your walking on the road that leads to the castle, be careful the ghost of Henry VIII doesn't catch you.
Virginia, 36, from, Texas, wrote:
I have been to Windsor several times, but I have found the best time to go is the dead of winter.  The first time I went to Windsor I was in college. It was during the height of the tourist season, and very crowded.  I went again shortly before the fire. Again during the height of the tourist season.  The next time I went to Windsor was after the fire.  I was going over to work in London for six months.  The first thing I wanted to see was Windsor.  I wanted to see how it had changed since the fire (they were doing renovations).  I went in January and it was cold, very cold.  But the wonderful thing was there were very few tourists.  I was able to speak with the guides in all of the rooms and find out things about the castle I did not know.  It was also great to be able to take my time looking at things without having the Whinney kids who did not want to be there in the first place yelling in your ear. You will find that the people who work in Windsor have a great knowledge and love about the castle, as well as of the monarchy.  This is a fabulous place to see, and is one of my favorite castles.  You will really be able to feel what it was like to live during the times of Windsor.  You will also be able to appreciate it as it is today.  Don't forget to take the long walk.  It may seem like a long way to go, but you can get a great picture of the castle from the base of the statute at the end.  Let your mind go, and fall in love with Windsor!!!!

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