The building of the favourite weekend-home of Her Majesty the Queen – the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – began soon after the Norman conquest. William the Conqueror was really thoughtful and ordered to build the motte on a 30-metre-high cliff on which the keep was erected. The early layout of William’s and Henry II’s castle (from the 1170s) can still be seen today in Windsor. The complexity of the castle contains the famous St George’s Chapel (hosting tombs of ten monarchs) or the great entry gate named after its builder King Henry VIII who is the most notable Tudor monarch and was buried at Windsor’s St George Chapel. Not only mournful, but cheerful royal events take place at St George’s – it hosted numerous royal weddings, the latest to occur was the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19th May, 2018.
More than a hundred rooms were damaged in the great fire of Windsor in 1992. To pay back the cost of £36,000,000 to the State, the Royal Family decided to open the gates of Buckingham Palace to the public.
A Visit at Windsor
SOME CASTLE-FACTS FROM WINDSOR
- Dedicated to England’s patron saint George, the highest order of chivalry founded by Edward III in 1348; the Order of the Garter – “Mal qui pense mal” since the legend says the knights saw a piece of lady’s garter in the bailey – the Queen, Prince Philip, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex are members
- Henry VIII enjoyed Windsor as a royal playground for shooting, dancing, wrestling, tennis, and even songwriting. He is purported to have spent the equivalent of £295 million in 2008 terms ($420 million) on work that included hiring Italian architect Benedetto Grazzini to convert the Lady Chapel into an Italian Renaissance design.
- Windsor Castle was one of Elizabeth I’s favourite residences and she spent more money on it than any of her other residences.
- Charles II liked to imitate Louis XIV of France, creating “the most extravagantly Baroque interiors ever executed in England”.
- In 1939 Windsor Castle was readied for war-time: security tightened, windows blacked-out, staff were relocated to Windsor from Buckingham Palace. The roof above the children’s room, where Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were staying was strengthened, chandeliers were lowered to floor level to prevent damage in a bombing raid, and important works of art were removed for safe keeping. Driving daily to London and returning to Windsor each night was a closely-guarded secret for the king and queen. It was considered good for morale to report that the king was staying full-time at Buckingham Palace.
- From the 1350s to the 1370s, Edward III transformed Windsor from a military fortification to a gothic palace.
- Edward’s core design lasted through the Tudor period, during which Henry VIII and Elizabeth I made increasing use of the castle as a royal court and centre for diplomatic entertainment.
- During English Civil War (1642–1651) castle was used as a prison for Charles I and a military headquarters for Parliamentary forces.
- At the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II rebuilt much of Windsor Castle with the help of the architect Hugh May, creating a set of extravagant Baroque interiors that are still admired.
- During WW2, the castle was used as home to entire royal family during German bombing campaigns.
- The Great Fire at Windsor started on 20 November 1992. The fire damaged or destroyed 20% of the Castle area. The castle was fully repaired within the next few years at a cost of over £36 000 000.
- The Castle grounds cover 52,609 square meters (13 acres). After centuries of alterations it contains about 1,000 room and the staff is over 500.
- The castle has 300 fireplaces which are tended by a full-time fendersmith, whose family have been doing the job for generations.
- The Windsor Castle estate (including Windsor Great Park) has over 450 clocks. When British Summer Time (BST) begins, it takes The Queen’s clock maker 16 hours to move every clock forward by one hour. At the end of BST it takes him 18 hours to adjust them back one hour (as he actually has to move them forward 11 hours!)
- Windsor Castle has over a million visitors each year.
Fire at Windsor Castle in 1992
Inside Windsor Castle