No trip to United Kingdom could possibly be complete without a visit to amazing Windsor Castle, located in the English county of Berkshire. The breath taking size of the Castle (13 acres) is in fact the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world and it is where Her Majesty the Queen chooses to spend most of her private weekends. With so many areas to explore and enjoy the spectacular view of the surrounding country side from the top, please allow at least 3 hours for your visit.
The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by all monarchs. Inside the Castle walls is the 15th Century St George’s Chapel noted for its English Gothic design. Originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London and oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, Windsor Castle was built as motte-and-bailey with three wards surrounding the mound. The present day castle was created during a sequence of phased building project, culminating in the reconstruction work after a fire in 1992. It is in essence Georgian and Victorian design based on a medieval structure with Gothic features reinvented in a modern style.
Windsor Castle survived the tumultuous period of the English Civil War, when it was used as a military headquarters for the Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. During the Second World War the castle was readied for war time conditions. It was used as a safe haven for the king and queen from the German bombings.
At the heart of the Windsor castle is the middle ward, a bailey formed around the motte or artificial hill in the center of the ward. The motte is 50 feet high and is made from mud excavated from the surrounding ditch. Above that is the Round Tower originally built in 12th century and extended upwards in the early 19th century.
The upper ward of Windsor Castle comprises a number of major buildings enclosed by the upper bailey wall, forming a central quadrangle. The State Apartments run along north of the ward, with a range of buildings along the east wall.
The lower ward lies below and to the west of the Round Tower, reached through the Norman Gate. The lower ward holds St George’s Chapel. At the east end of the St George’s Chapel is the Lady Chapel and the west end of the lower ward is the Horseshoe Cloister, originally build in 1480 near to the Chapel to house the clergy.
The Changing of Guard
The privilege of guarding the Sovereign traditionally belongs to the Household Troops, better known as ‘the Guards’, who has carried out this duty since 1660. For operational and other reasons this privilege is periodically extended to other regiments of the British Army. The Guards consists of infantry regiments – the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards – and two regiments of Household Cavalry – the Life Guards and Blues and Royals. Most of the Guards will have seen action overseas.
Changing of Guard, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’, begins with the Windsor Castle Guard forming up outside the Guard Room. In due course, the new Guard will arrive, led by a Regimental Band, Corps of Drums or occasionally by a Pipe Band. During the ceremony the handover of the duties will take place including the changeover of the sentries. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the old Guard will return to Victoria Barracks in Windsor Town.
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Tintes Das for making this visit a reality.