Visiting Windsor Castle and Village
When you think of any castle, you think of an isolated stone edifice on a rocky outcrop. At least Australian’s do. We don’t have any castles down here, unless you include Sydney’s Government House, so we have to rely on pictures from story books to fuel our imaginations.
So we were very surprised that Windsor Castle, family home to British monarchs for more than 1000 years is more of a large, walled house situated in the middle of a bustling medieval village.
The Lonely Planet London (Travel Guide) available on Amazon may be useful when planning your trip to London
Guided tour of Windsor Castle
We spent a morning visiting Windsor Castle and village as part of a day long Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge tour out of London and certainly found it was well worth the expense to have an experienced tour guide take us to these three major attractions.
Our coach pulled up outside Windsor station, where the official Royal steam engine, used to transport monarchs from London is on display. From here we walked through the village streets to the castle gates.
Despite being on an organised tour, we still joined a very long queue of tourists waiting to enter the castle gates. Once inside, you find yourself in a “village within a village”. Walking along the walls of the old moat, past immaculately landscaped gardens, you then find the rabbit warren of streets where the court and attendants once lived.
St Georges Chapel
St Georges Chapel, the gothic church started by Edward IV in 1475 is the site of countless Royal weddings (Most recently Harry and Meghan) and burials over the centuries and the final resting place of 10 monarchs, including King Henry VII.
Entry inside palace itself is limited, and photography inside is strictly prohibited. Some of the public rooms were also closed that day as HM was getting ready to host an afternoon tea for the local polo crew.
Queen Mary’s Doll House
Entering the castle, we first see Queen Mary’s doll house, recreating every facet of British life during the 1920’s. In the darkened rooms yoou will find thousands of tiny items made on a scale of 1:12 made by leading architects, artists and craftsmen.
Guided through the ornately decorated rooms, we visit the State Apartments housing paintings from Holbein, Van Dyck and Ruebens, including some famous royal portraits, including the young Queen Elizabeth I.
The Grand Reception room has been painstakingly restored following the fire in 1992. The gold covered walls and ceiling were once the backdrop for the palace’s main ballroom, and a gold urn presented to Queen Victoria by Russian Tsar Nicolas I is on display.
Outside crowds flocked to witness displays of the changing of the Guard and a range of educational tours.
After a tour of the chapel, it was time for a stroll back through the village of Windsor and a quick sandwich at the local Pret-a-manger before heading off on the rest of our day’s adventures.