Ever since Windsor Castle was established in the 11th Century as a home of the Royals, the castle has seen many changes. From its beginnings in the reign of William the Conqueror as a wooden fort, it was gradually transformed by his successors into the strong stone castle it is today. Just 45 minutes by train from London, Windsor Castle is another place where visitors can find out more about the history of Britain and its Royal Family. Some of the main attractions include the Doll house, the lavish rooms of the State Apartments and the Quadrangle.
1. Round tower
2. Queen Mary's Doll house
3. Grand Vestibule and staircase
4. State Apartments
5. The Quadrangle
To travel to Windsor castle, visitors can catch trains from either London Waterloo, which stops at Windsor and Eton Riverside Station. Another route is from London Paddington to Windsor Central. Either way, it doesn't make much of a difference, but the train from Paddington does stop closer to the castle entrance.
Walking past the entrance, visitors will first encounter St George's Gate, and a passage from the gate leads on to the Middle Ward. The main feature of the Middle Ward is the imposing stone Round Tower. Originally constructed in 1066 for William I with wood, the tower and the walls along the upper ward were converted to stone for Henry II in 1170. In addition, the walls were built around the lower ward of the castle.
Queen Mary's Doll house can be accessible by going to the north terrace and walking east towards the apartments. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the doll house was given to Queen Mary in 1924. All items in the house were built on a scale of 1:12. And the attention to detail was incredible - other than the lights which worked as normal in each room, there was a working water system and the the gramophone plays while the cellar contains genuine vintage wines.
Following the Doll house is the Gallery. This area contains a collection of the Royal Family's china and porcelain. Much of the collection was produced by leading porcelain manufacturers from Denmark, Italy, France and England. And some are even used for royal banquets. In addition to porcelain, drawings and manuscripts are also displayed.
The Grand staircase and the Grand Vestibule is the next area before the rooms of the state apartments. This contains various trophies, arms and armoury from different countries that the British empire had acquired over the years. A striking aspect of the room is the careful arrangement of the swords, guns, spears, shields and armour around the walls and in the display cabinets. In addition, some trophies from the countries of the Far east and South East Asia can be seen.
There are too many rooms to describe in the apartments, but those of particular significance include the St George Hall, the Lantern Lobby and the Garter throne room.
The St George hall is one of the most historic rooms of the castle. Armour figures and weapons and sculptures of Dukes, Kings and Queens are placed along the walls. On the walls are what appears to be members of the royal family from the UK and other countries such as Japan and the countries in the continent of Europe. Meanwhile, the ceilings are decoratd with the coat of arms of the knights of the Garter while the King's champion appears at the end of the room.
The Lantern room gets its name from the skylights above the ceiling, built in the shape of a lantern. Before the 1992 fire that devestated the room, St George's hall and the adjoining rooms, the room use to be a private chapel. A memorial showing where the fire had started now stands in the room.
The Garter throne room serves the important function of awarding the knighthood to men and womemn. In the room are painting of the kings and queens that have served the british monarch, while at the end of the room is the throne, originally made for King George III's audience chamber at Windsor. Models of the three triumphal arches of Rome, guilded with gold, are also placed in the room. Finally, the ceilings and the doorways on each side of the throne are decorated with the Order of the Garter.
At the end of the state apartments, visitors will arrive at the large grass area known as the Quadrangle and Engine Court which was re-designed by Jeffry Wyatt (who later changed his name to Wyattville after receiving a knighthood). The bronze equestrian statue of Charles II closest to the Round Tower was done by Josiah Ibach in 1679. The statue sits on Wyatville's granite block with a fountain and panels of marble done by Grinling Gibbons. On leaving the Quadrangle, the only place left is the St George's Chapel. However, sometimes, the chapel may be closed for services.