Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle information

Location
Windsor & Eton , England
Address
Castle Hill
More information
www.royalcollection.org.uk
Prices
adult/child £19/11
Opening hours
9.45am-5.15pm
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The largest and oldest occupied fortress in the world, Windsor Castle is a majestic vision of battlements and towers. It's used for state occasions and is one of the Queen's principal residences; if she's at home, you'll see the Royal Standard flying from the Round Tower. Join a free guided tour (every half-hour) or take a multilingual audio tour of the lavish state rooms and beautiful chapels. Note, some sections may be off-limits on any given day if they're in use.

William the Conqueror first established a royal residence in Windsor in 1070; since then successive monarchs have rebuilt, remodelled and refurbished the castle complex to create the massive and sumptuous palace that stands here today. Henry II replaced the wooden stockade in 1165 with a stone round tower and built the outer walls to the north, east and south; Charles II gave the state apartments a baroque makeover; George IV swept in with his preference for Gothic style; and Queen Victoria refurbished a beautiful chapel in memory of her beloved Albert.

Queen Mary's Dolls' House

Your first stop is likely to be the incredible dolls' house designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary in 1924. The attention to detail is spellbinding – there's running water, electricity and lighting, tiny Crown Jewels and vintage wine in the cellar!

State Apartments

The Grand Staircase sets the tone for a set of absolutely spectacular rooms, dripping in gilt and screaming 'royal' from every painted surface and sparkling chandelier. Highlights include St George's Hall , used for state banquets of up to 160 people. For more intimate gatherings (just 60 people), the Queen entertains in the Waterloo Chamber , its paintings commemorating the victory over Napoleon.

St George's Chapel

This elegant chapel, commissioned for the Order of the Garter by Edward IV in 1475, is one of Britain's finest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture. The nave and fan-vaulted roof were completed under Henry VII, but the final nail was struck under Henry VIII in 1528.

Along with Westminster Abbey, it serves as a royal mausoleum, housing the remains of numerous royals, including Henry VIII, Charles I and the present queen's father (King George VI), mother (Queen Elizabeth) and sister (Princess Margaret).

St George's Chapel closes on Sunday, but time your visit well and you can attend a morning service or Evensong at 5.15pm daily.

Albert Memorial Chapel

Built in 1240 and dedicated to St Edward the Confessor, this small chapel was the place of worship for the Order of the Garter until St George's Chapel snatched that honour. After the death of Prince Albert at Windsor Castle in 1861, Queen Victoria ordered its elaborate redecoration as a tribute to her husband. A major feature of the restoration is the magnificent vaulted roof, whose gold mosaic pieces were crafted in Venice. There's a monument to the prince, although he's actually buried with Queen Victoria in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum in the castle grounds.

Changing of the Guard

A fabulous spectacle, with triumphant tunes from a military band and plenty of foot stamping, the changing of the guard draws crowds to the castle gates each day to watch the smartly attired lads in red uniforms and bear-fur hats do their thing. The spectacle takes place at 11am Monday to Saturday from April to July, and on alternate days from August to March. Stay to the right of the crowd for better views.