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Windsor Castle


Location: Windsor

Telephone: 01753 868286, ext. 2235


  • Areas of the castle open to visitors are:
    State Apartments
    The Gallery
    Queen Mary's Dollhouse
    St. George's Chapel
    Albert Memorial Chapel

  • Entry Fee: £10.50
    NOTE: Holders of the Great British Heritage Pass get FREE entry into Windsor Castle

  • Castle Admission Times:
    March through October
    10.00 to 17.30
    November through February
    10.00 to 16.00

  • Shops Open:
    March through October
    10.00 to 17.15
    November through February
    10.00 to 15.45

  • Last Admission to the State Apartments:
    March through October
    November through February

  • Last Admission to St. George's Chapel:
    March through October
    November through February
    NOTE: The Chapels are closed to visitors on Sundays; however, worshippers are welcome.


  • Changing of the Guard
    April through June
    Monday through Saturday, Daily 11.00
    July through March
    Alternate days, 11.00

  • Evensong at St George's Chapel

    Preparing for a weekend concert at Engine Court inside the Quadrangle

  • ..."Windsor Castle is a Royal Palace and a symbol of the British Nation. Visitors are requested to act accordingly. Gentlemen and children are asked to remove their hats when within the Chapels or any of the buildings..."

  • History

    The Castle Hill entrance to Windsor Castle

    Windsor Castle, with its fairy tale turrets and towers, is the largest continually inhabited castle in the world. Since it was begun by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century to its prestigious stature as the ancestral home of Queen Elizabeth II today, Windsor has stood for nearly a millennium.

    Winsor originated as a motte and bailey fortification as part of a defensive program instituted by William the Conqueror after his victory in 1066. It was built on the only naturally defensive site on a ridge above the Thames Valley. The castle was used primarily for defense purposes until Henry II rebuilt the castle in stone, concurrently adding extensive expansions for Windsor's use as a State residence. The basic curtain wall and the Round Tower (as pictured at the top of this page) were also begun by Henry II. Henry III is credited with the addition of 5 circular towers added to the curtain wall. He also remodeled his predecessor's State apartments and added a new Chapel to the castle.

    The Medieval Reconstruction of Windsor Castle during the reign of Edward III reflects the era's ideal of Christian chivalric monarchy and this new gothic palace became the seat of the Order of the Garter. The extensive construction included the building of the College of St. George, an inner gatehouse with cylindrical towers, stone-vaulted undercrofts which supported new Royal apartments for the King and Queen, the Great Hall and the Royal Chapel. Significant alterations and improvements continued by successive monarchs throughout the Medieval period.

    The castle was siezed by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War in the mid 17th Century and was used as a prison. King Charles I was buried under the Chapel of St. George following his execution at Whitehall in 1649 on the order of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector. The Interregnum lasted only 11 years and was the only disruption of the British monarchy since its institution.

    A rear entry gate on Thames Street

    The Restoration of Charles II in 1660 saw the reappointing of Windsor Castle as a Royal Palace. Architect Hugh May was appointed in 1673 to supervise the outfitting of the interior of the castle with richly Baroque trimmings while leaving the blocky, castellated exterior virtually unchanged. Rounded arch windows, oak wainscoting, Grinling Gibbons virtuoso carvings and painted Italian ceilings helped to make Windsor's State Apartments the grandest in England.

    The early Hanoverian kings preferred Hampton Court Palace to Windsor; however, George III initiated a Gothic conversion after recovering from his first illness in 1789. For the first time, the Upper Ward State Appartments and precints were regularly open to the public. George IV continued his father's Gothic conversion of the castle's exterior under the influence of artistic adviser Sir John Long. The enhancement of the castle's silhouette was accomplished by raising the Round Tower, constructing additional towers and battlements and the making of the King George IV Gateway under the supervision of architect James Wyatt (who subsequently earned his Knighthood and changed the spelling of his surname to the medieval Wyatville.) George IV took up residence in Windsor Castle in 1828.

    The reign of Queen Victoria saw Windsor Castle once again the principal palace of the British monarchy. Heads of State throughout Europe (many of whom were the Queen's relations) often visited Windsor and the State Rooms were again used for their original purpose. The construction completed by George IV left the castle in excellent working order and Queen Victoria made very few alterations to Windsor. The Grand Staircase and a private Chapel (burned in 1992) were the creations of Edward Blore. The Chapel of St. George was remodelled with marble and mosaic after the death of the Queen's beloved Prince Albert on 14 December 1861.

    Windsor Castle Today

    St. George's Chapel, southern facade

    Windsor remained much the same throughout the 20th century as it had from the time of George IV; however, a 1992 fire devastated the castle. The fire evidently began in the northeast section of the Upper Ward as a spotlight ignited a curtain. The fire spread at roof level to surrounding areas of the castle despite frantic efforts of castle staff and the fire brigade to control the flames. The fire consumed the ceilings of George IV's St. George's Hall and Grand Reception Room and gutted the Private Chapel, the State Dining Room, the Crimson Drawing Room and other smaller rooms. Fortunately, the rooms most affected by the fire were mostly empty of their treasures as they were being rewired. A few priceless artifacts were destroyed, consequently, because they were too large to move and had been left in place.

    The restoration of Windsor Castle began immediately following the devastating fire. A Restoration Committee, chaired by the Duke of Edinburgh, and an Art and Design Committee, chaired by the Prince of Wales, supervised the construction and restoration. It was decided that the damaged rooms would be completely restored while the destroyed rooms would be rebuilt to new designs. The goal of creating modern Gothic, original in detail and tradition, was met in the final product when the castle restoration was completed 5 years later. Windsor Castle was restored £3,000,000 under budget at £37,000,000.

    The Norman Gate

    Windsor Castle Today

    Links to my other London Attractions pages

    Buckingham Palace
    St. James' Palace
    Hampton Court Palace
    Kensington Palace
    St. Paul's Cathedral
    H.M. Tower of London
    Tower Bridge Experience
    Trafalgar Square & Admiralty Arch

    Westminster Abbey
    St. Margaret's Church
    Houses of Parliament

    Queen Mary's Dollhouse Page

    The Royal Family's Official Website
    The Royal Palaces Official Website
    Need more information? Visit my Composite Links Page

    Last Updated: 27 January 2003

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