Friday, July 26, 2013

Loving England- Part 3 Windsor Castle!



 One of our four days in England, we decided to get out of London and visit Windsor Castle. It's an easy train ride of about 45 minutes. You can leave from Waterloo Station and they can sell you a pass to the castle and a train ticket all in one there.




You arrive at a darling train depot that looks like something out of Thomas the Train. If you walk out and across the street you see Windsor Castle right ahead of you. It's an easy walk uphill of about 10 minutes along the high street of Windsor to the castle entrance.

Walking up the High Street toward the castle.
Almost there...
 Getting there early is nice and we hooked up with one of the tour guides or Wardens they have free of charge. He was funny and we learned so much about Windsor built in 1066 by William the Conquerer. The castle is actually a fortress with towers, chapels and a village inside it.




Inside the walls.


Looking towards Eton College Chapel from the castle.

Windsor is the oldest and largest inhabited royal castle in the world and has been lived in by kings and queens for over one thousand years. The Queen still spends her private weekends here as well as a month at Easter and in June. When The Queen is in residence the flag called The Royal Standard is flown.


On a tour you can see the state apartments where the queen still holds many state dinners. The entrance is pretty impressive it's about 3 stories tall of swords, shields and suits of armor. You can also visit Queen Mary's Doll House built in the 1920's. It's a small mansion complete with authentic details of the time including electricity, hot and cold running water and flushing toilets!




Looking toward The Queen's apartments in the center above. This area is gated off and not part of the tour...



We also got the free headsets as well since the tour with the Wardens only last 30 minutes.



The doors have so much history and details. The hinges and the pulls alone and the sheer width of some amazed me. 





 The castle is immense and opulent  inside and it is hard to tell where the horrible fire from 1992 did damage. You do go in the state dining room and hall where they show you how bad it was. You can also see how they tried to keep the original materials in the restoration by doing things like flipping parquet wood floor tiles over.



This is the moat made of chalk. It never actually could hold water and has become a garden of sorts.


You can see the changing of the guard if you are here early. . .






To me the highlight of Windsor was St George's Chapel. It was built in the 1400s and is the prettiest, fragile and most beautiful church. Absolutely lovely with it's gorgeous glass windows. I wish I could have been able to take photos. Inside St George's, they are also restoring Prince Albert's Chapel built by Queen Victoria, which is even more fragile and you can only peer at through ropes.






St George's Chapel outside and below.





 St George's is home to the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of British chivalry established in 1348.  We just missed the procession where they do each year in June. Small school children were on a field trip the day we were there and we able to put on small garter robes and caps and parade around in the state dining room. It was cute. Nice how they introduce the tradition of all this when the kids are young here.

The Queen and the Duke at the Garter Ceremony.


One of the most interesting parts of the day was seeing The Quire (or choir) stalls of the Garter Knights. When one is given a knighthood a stall is provided and a personal plate is fixed to it's back and remains there forever. You see many old and elaborate plates as well as the knight's banners, crests and helmets. Plates from the 1400s are still there.


A plate above and banners and helmets below. Photos via Windsor.org





 My boys really loved reading the family names on the gold plates and the dates. Yes, this is also where the choir sits. 





These gorgeous red and gold doors predate the chapel and were from one built previously in 1240. They were kept and still stand today. I bought this postcard. They were even more impressive up close.


As you walk out of the castle walls you can notice little patios of what are Grace and Favor residences. These are occupied by members of The Queen's household, royals and war veterans and some of their widows. These apartments are rent free and are given indefinitely.













After a while some of us were running on empty and had enough of the castle... 







Back out on the streets of Windsor, there were heaps of British charm, restaurants and shops.





 My boys are always thrilled by Pizza Express so we found one right on the High Street. 

Sodas were in order. We needed a bit of sugar. English Fanta has no artificial colors as they are banned there and according to the kids tastes much better without it. No day-glo orange. Why can't we do that in the U.S.?






Windsor has many great shops and a large outdoor mall with many restaurants and a terrific sweet shop. These are located within walking distance to the castle. It's a wonderful spot to stay the day. If you have a bit longer, Eton is quite close. There are also some very nice spots along the Thames to have a bite. Our only regret is we didn't get to Windsor Great Park in front of the castle.. Just not enough energy left in my crew. Hopefully next time!




If your not completely sick of England, I have one more U.K. post coming!

Thanks everyone for reading and all your comments!

Kim

8 comments :

  1. Kim, What an absolutely adorable photo of you and the kids:) So funny when you mentioned Thomas the Train. My son watched just about every episode and your are right! .. this reminds me of the show! Gorgeous castle and the green surroundings are stunning. I cannot wait to visit here some day.

    Enjoy your weekend! xxleslie

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    1. Thanks Leslie! Isn't it funny about Thomas? I swear I spent years watching that original little show and it's burned in my head!

      I can see you loving England and all it's charms!
      Have a great weekend too!

      xx

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  2. Wow! you know more about Windsor castle than I do ;-) I went many years ago, but now feel another trip is due ;-)
    Gorgeous pictures x

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  3. We visited Windsor a few years ago just briefly and your lovely photos have made me realise that we should return and see more of it. Those colourful banners amd the red door are wonderful and I would love to see the Doll House too. I do remember seeing all the Eton boys in their smart uniforms - fascinating. They probably would have finished for the summer when you were there.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. Hi Kim! I'm loving these glimpses of England from your lens. I visited Windsor years ago with my family. It was an easy trip from London as I recall. Your images capture it beautifully. I love that pic of you and your boys.
    Sweet!!
    xx, Heather

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  5. Hi Kim, Windsor Castle is one of my favourite Castles to visit. I remember seeing the Doll Hpuse of Queen Mary and the collection of swords and rifles on display on the walls and ceilings there. It is truly grand. We also had an English pub lunch there near the Castle where we ate those large English meat pies and ales. So nice to see it again on your Blog. Good thing your family enjoyed it.

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  6. I loved Windsor when I went. Such a charming town. Great photos. I know this was a great trip for you all.

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  7. I so enjoyed this thorough tour of Windsor Castle and the educating details. With a destination so full of history... your break down was so clear and concise. Thank you once again for sharing your English travels. I am excited to see your next UK post!

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