Castles Of England
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Windsor Castle

Visited August 2023

Location Windsor, Berkshire
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Yes
Parking Town Car parks
Facilities Cafe, Gift Shop, Toilets
Map

 

I am sure that Windsor Castle, a royal residence and one of the oldest continuously occupied castles in England, needs no introduction, especially as it is one of the residences of the King.

 


 

 


Review

 

As a consequence of being such a famous tourist destination, the castle is absolutely heaving with visitors, especially in the summer holiday season. There are queues everywhere in the castle; for St George's Chapel, Queen Mary's dollhouse, for audio tour equipment, gift shop, ice cream stalls..... But also, to get in to the castle itself. Admissions are allocated to a certain timeslots and these are strictly enforced, so it is no good turning up before your allotted time  and trying to get in early. Our top tip is to definitely buy your tickets in advance, as on the day we visited they had totally sold out of 'on the day' tickets by lunch time, and there were lots of disappointed people who didn't buy an advance ticket so couldn't get in!

 

You also have to go through airport style security checks, but once you are into the castle grounds there is much to be seen.

 

 


 

 


 

The most amazing thing about this castle in our opinion is that it was originally built by William the Conqueror in around 1070, and since then has been in continuous occupation. This means that the castle has been maintained and so was never allowed to get into the ruinous state that other castles from this era have got into. The original motte is still there with a heavily restored and modified keep on top. The other buildings of various different eras were built around the motte, incorporating domestic and state buildings once the need for a defensive fortification reduced.

 

The last major refurbishing work was carried out in 1992 after a fire broke out in the private chapel. It cost 37 million to restore, which was paid for from the proceeds of opening Buckingham Palace to the public.

 


 

 


 

For the practicalities- the castle is very busy, with queues to get in, and further queues to see St George's Chapel and Queen Mary's Doll House. There was no queue for the State Apartments though, so this might be slightly better if you have impatient queuers in your group. However it may not be terribly interesting to small children. No photography is allowed in the interior of the castle so I cannot give you an example of what you will see inside- but think lots of gold and gilt decorations, sumptuous materials for the soft furnishings, and many pictures of royal family members, plus collections of weapons (rifles and swords) adorning the walls of the rooms.

 

The cafe and gift shop are also very busy, so allow waiting time if you use them. We actually bought some sandwiches from one of the many shops outside the castle, and there are plenty of souvenir shops available in the town of Windsor too, so we would recommend using them rather than the ones in the castle.

 

There were some children's activities available on the day we were there, but we couldn't find where they were happening (it is a big site) so cannot comment on their quality. The other thing children might find interesting is watching the guards on parade at the castle- which is one of the few British castles to still have a military presence. Many kids (and adults) were having their pictures taken next to the guards but please be aware they are not there for the tourists but to actually guard the castle so don't get in their way!

 

One thing that is in short supply within the castle is green space for the visitors. There are some manicured lawns you are requested to not walk on and most of the actual garden areas are not open to the public, which is a shame as it is quite an austere grey brick environment without the gardens to soften it. There is however Windsor Great Park, which is free to use and is in excess of 4800 acres of green space. Once a Norman deer park is is now an amenity with formal gardens, play areas for children and affords a fabulous distant view of the castle itself.

 

A few minutes walk from the castle brings you to the River Thames, where you can feed the local ducks and watch the boats go by. We actually took a boat trip which was very enjoyable and very popular with children. It also offers a good view of the castle when coming back into dock at the end of the trip.

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

More info:  Windsor Castle

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