One of The Queen’s favourite homes, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Begun in 1066, it has evolved into a beautiful fortress over the centuries. A visit to Windsor Castle is an adventure for both adults and kids alike.
It’s also the home of St George’s Chapel, the location of HRH Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018.
Places to See During A Visit to Windsor Castle
The Castle Precincts
The grounds of the castle are beautiful with waterfalls, gardens and ancient trees. During a visit to Windsor Castle, you can take a tour of the “precincts” with one of the Yeoman Warders and hear the history and secrets of this magical place. Plots, intrigues and love-struck prisoners all figure in the tales they have to tell.
You can tour the State Rooms at Windsor Castle. It’s hard not to be blown away by the lush red-carpeted stairs, beautiful woodcarving and high ceilings of the castle’s entryway but the best really is yet to come. Windsor Castle is grand in the truest sense of the word with massive rooms, high ornate ceilings, priceless artworks and gorgeous crystal chandeliers. Having said that, some of the rooms are surprisingly cozy as well.
One of my favourite rooms is the small dressing room that Charles 2 preferred to sleep in instead of his bedroom because it was warmer – and perhaps also because of the secret door carved into the wall that allowed him to slip downstairs to the rooms where his mistresses slept.
There was a serious fire at Windsor Castle in November 1992, however all has now been beautifully restored. St George’s Hall has been rebuilt in oak and looks much as it must have done when it was first constructed in the 1360’s. Looked over by a massive statue of the King’s Champion at the far end, the ceiling is decorated with the crests of every Knight of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in the world. State Banquets are often held here, the table set for up to 160 guests.
Changing the Guard
Although on a smaller scale to The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, this is still an extremely impressive sight. As it takes place within the Castle precincts, you do need to purchase a ticket to the castle in order to see this spectacle. Changing the Guard takes place at 11.00am Monday to Saturday from April until the end of July and on alternate days throughout the rest of the year. There is no Changing the Guard on Sundays.
Queen Mary’s Doll House
I love Queen Mary’s Doll House! It was built in the 1920’s and is a perfect replica of an aristocratic home in miniature. It really is magical, with miniature furniture and paintings by the leading artists of the day, a library full of doll sized books and a garden designed by horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll. This incredible structure even boasts electricity, hot and cold running water, working elevators and flushing toilets!
St George’s Chapel
No visit to Windsor Castle is complete without a stop at St George’s Chapel. One of my favourite Royal chapels, this welcoming church is still an active center for worship with daily services at 5pm open to all. There are also services on Sunday. The chapel is closed to sightseers on Sundays, but open to worshippers.
St George’s chapel has gorgeous carvings, altars and stained glass windows. Don’t forget to look up! The stone ceiling is quite amazing. Henry VIII is buried here, as are many of the monarchs of the last several hundred years. HM The Queen’s parents and her sister are also laid to rest in a small, peaceful chapel at St George’s.
I can definitely understand why HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and HRH Princess Beatrice and her fiancé have chosen St George’s Chapel as the venue for their weddings. The whole place has a wonderful feel to it, and I always feel a real sense of peace when I visit. It’s also said to be one of the HM The Queen’s favourite places of worship.
Tips to Make a Visit to Windsor Castle Extra Special
A visit to Windsor Castle will take between 2½ to 3 hours, although you may wish to stay longer so allow plenty of time.
Although Windsor is often listed as part of London tourist attractions, Windsor is actually a town outside the capital. Trains to Windsor go from London’s Paddington and Waterloo stations. The journey takes about a half hour from Paddington and about an hour from Waterloo. The 25 mile journey takes about an hour and fifteen minutes by car (longer by bus), but journey times often increase due to heavy traffic. Also parking in Windsor is limited and expensive, so if you are travelling from London I recommend going by train.
Opening times and admission prices for Windsor Castle vary. Please click here for essential information about booking your visit and be sure to book in advance to avoid the queues.
Ask about the free kid-friendly audio tour and activity trail.
Subscribe to updates from The Royal Collection website to be kept updated of special events and exhibits at Windsor Castle as well as many other Royal palaces and properties.