Originating back to 1070 from William the Conqueror (of the Battle of Hastings fame) and extending over some 13 acres, this must clearly be one of the greatest surviving medieval castles in the world.
The Castle was first built as a royal fortress forming one of a ring of nine forts to protect the area around London from those nasty Norman invaders.
The last seige of the Castle was made by the barons loyal to Richard the Lionheart after King John tried to get the Pope to annul the magna Carta signed in 1215 at nearby Runnymede.
The Castle began a legend and link with English sovereignty that has spanned over many centuries. King John starved an enemy’s wife to death within its walls; King Charles I was imprisoned here before (literally) losing his head, Queen Victoria mourned her belovéd Albert who died at the Castle in 1861; The Royal Family rode out much of World War II behind its sheltering walls.
Visitors coming to Windsor to see the Castle and the town’s other attractions are seldom aware that the great building they have come to see is much more than a tourist attraction. Whilst its historic importance is fascinating and its state apartments regal and imposing, Windsor is still a favoured home of the Royal Family and is now the official residence of the Queen.
In parts of the Castle that the tourist won’t see, a relaxed atmosphere prevails and members of the Royal Family come and go with some regularity.
Also within the Castle are Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the magnificent State Apartments, St Georges Chapel and Old Master drawings.
QUEEN MARY’S DOLLS’ HOUSE
This magnificent dolls house was presented by the nation to Queen Mary – the wife of King George V.
The house is believed to be one of the most incredibly detailed works of its kind anywhere in the world.
THE STATE APARTMENTS
The State Apartments are the formal rooms used for Court ceremonial and important State visits. The rooms within range from the smaller, intimate rooms of Charles II’s apartments to the vast area of the Waterloo Chamber, built to commemorate the famous victory over Napoleon in 1815.
The rooms are furnished with some of the most important works of art from the Royal Collection including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens, Holbein and van Dyck, as well as magnificent French and English furniture and porcelain.
ST GEORGE’S CHAPEL
Renowned to be one of the world’s most superb ecclesiastical buildings. Ten monarchs lie buried here, including King Henry VIII (of the wives fame), King George VI; and King Charles I (and his head!). The banners of the 26 Knights of the Garter also hang in the Chapel.
OLD MASTER DRAWINGS
The Royal Family possesses a rare collection of drawings by Old Masters, notably Leonardo da Vinci. One Leonardo sketch for example, shows a cat in 20 different positions (see if you can think of them?). Amongst the others whose sketches are exhibited are William Blake, Thomas Rowlandson and Holbein, the later having no less than twelve of his sketches on display of which it is well worth looking at his sketch of Sir John Godsalve.
Set amid the extensive Home Park of Windsor Castle, Frogmore House is surrounded by fine and picturesque gardens. The house dates from the 1680s and was used by Queen Charlotte to indulge her love of botany. Consequently, the garden is laid out with many rare and unusual plants.
Frogmore passed through a succession of Royal owners, becoming a favoured retreat of Queen Victoria and later of King George V and Queen Mary.
The peace of Frogmore drew Prince Albert and Queen Victoria to break with Royal tradition and to choose a corner of the garden to build a mausoleum (elaborate grave) for themselves. Today, with its handsome house and tranquil gardens, it is easy to imagine the love Frogmore inspired in its former residents.