Windsor Castle Guide

Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of the Queen and has been a residence to the Royal Family for over 900 years. The Castle is located in Windsor in Berkshire and is one of the largest and oldest occupied castles in the world. The Castle covers an area of 26 acres and includes a royal palace and a chapel, the surrounding Great Windsor Park provides a scenic setting for the castle. For visitors there are a range of attractions to see here that include the State Rooms inside the castle, the Chapel and a number of exhibitions giving an insight in to the history and heritage of the castle. There are a number of tours available where visitors can explore the castle, its attractions and grounds in more detail.

Overview & History


Windsor Castle is one of official residences of the Queen, the Castle is located in the county of Berkshire close to London. The castle has an imposing presence and dominates the Windsor skyline with the towers and battlements. The Royal Palace here has witnessed a number of important and significant events in British history over the course of its long history.

Currently the castle is still used as a working palace and is where the Queen spends weekends including the Easter period. There are a range of attractions for visitors to see including the State Rooms, George's Chapel, Queen Mary's Dolls' House and the Drawings Gallery.

The Castle was constructed under William the Conqueror, originally for the purpose of guarding the western approaches to London, its strategic positioning above the River Thames made the site useful. Over the years there have been a number of monarchs that have stayed at the castle and Royal Palace and has been continuously inhabited.

In 1992 a fire at the castle caused a great deal of damage, however the castle and the rooms have been restored due to painstaking work by a number of craftsmen in Europe. The restoration and conservation work has been critically acclaimed.

Attractions


The Drawings Gallery at the Castle shows changing exhibitions from the Royal Library at the Castle, the exhibitions take material and artefacts from the Library to create the public exhibitions that include photos, books, drawings, art works, memorabilia and more to help build up a picture of the person/subject of the exhibition.

Visitors can see the Changing of the Guard at the castle representing one of the highlights of any visit to the castle. The changing of the Guard is very popular with tourists and visitors can usually see the band that normally accompanies the Guards. The Guards can be seen first as they march up the High Street in Windsor and then in to the Castle.

To see the changing ceremony visitors need to pay to go inside the Castle itself. The changing ceremony takes approx 30 minutes and takes place throughout the weather (depending on the weather). The ceremony takes place on alternative days at 11.00am outside the Guardroom in the Lower Ward. Visitors should note changing of the guard does not take place on a Sunday. It is recommended visitors wishing to see the ceremony check first the days and times before they go to avoid disappointment.

The Castle offers visitors with a chance to enjoy a walk around the splendid grounds. There are opportunities to enjoy some wonderful views and scenery, not only of the range of fortifications and the Round Tower but also you can see the River Thames, Eton and the surrounding English countryside.

St George's Chapel represents one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the UK. The chapel was originally started back in 1475 by Edward IV and took some 50 years to complete under the reign of Henry VIII. The chapel is regarded as one of finest examples of medieval architecture and there are a number of monarchs who are buried here, including Henry VIII along with Jane Seymour and Charles I.

The Chapel is spiritual home of the Order of the Garter, the senior order of chivalry that was established by Edward III in 1348. The Garter Knights are selected by the Queen and the annual Ceremony of the Garter takes place in June each year attended by the Garter Knights, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.

The State Apartments are a series of ornately decorated formal rooms with lavish interiors that are still used on occasions such for official and state functions. There are a range of highly prized art works by renowned artists such as Canaletto, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Van Dyck. In addition there are decorations on the ceilings and woodwork in the rooms themselves.

The State Apartments give visitors a real sense of formal royal rooms that are large, imposing, richly decorated and filled with heritage and history. The rooms contain a collection of armour that includes the gold suit of armour that was made for Prince Hal and fine tapestries, porcelain and sculpture

Queen Mary's Dolls' House is a fascinating dolls' house that has been built with a scale of 1 to 12. It has been built with great care and attention for detail and took craftsmen three years to complete. The original idea for making a dolls' house for the Queen came from Princess Marie Louise, a cousin of the Queen.

The miniature house is known for its attention to detail including working lifts and the miniature furniture inside the house. Queen Mary had a fondness for collecting miniature objects and this gave Princess Marie Louise the idea of creating a great dolls' house as a present for the Queen.


How to Get There


The Palace is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

Windsor is located approx 22 miles from London and is fairly easy to access. From London the M4 Motorway takes you to Windsor, exit at junction 6 that is signposted Slough and Windsor, from the exit follow the signs for Windsor.

There are a number of car parking facilities in the town of Windsor that are within a 5 to 10 minute walk of the castle. Motorists should understand, be aware of the parking rules and strictly adhere to the parking rules to help avoid any parking sanctions.

For those using Satellite Navigation systems the postcode to use is SL4 1NJ.


By Train:

The train station at Windsor Riverside is close by to the castle and there are services operating from London Waterloo station, the journey time is approx 55 minutes. There are also trains to Windsor available from London Paddington station.


By Bus/Coach:

There are number of local Windsor bus routes that serve the area, there are services from Heathrow Terminal 5 where route number 77 takes visitors close to the Castle in central Windsor. Journey time is approx 35 minutes from Terminal 5.

Coach services include Green Line, which operates a daily coach service from Victoria Coach Station in central London to Windsor.

National Express offer coach services from a choice of towns and cities to Windsor, these include Victoria Station in London, Reading and Heathrow Airport. Travelling by coach to Windsor can offer a great value way to enjoy a day out at reasonable cost.

There are a number of tour companies that offer day trips and excursions to Windsor Castle from a number of London hotels.

Bookings & Tickets


Enjoy a visit to the Castle at Windsor and combine it with a hotel stay to make a great short break. By booking a visit to the Castle along with a comfortable hotel stay you can benefit from a range of great value deals. See Windsor Castle Tickets & Booking for further details.

Contact Details


Windsor Castle
Windsor
Berkshire
SL4 1NJ

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7766 7304

Fax: +44 (0)20 7930 9625

email: bookinginfo@royalcollection.org.uk

Website: The Royal Collection

Facilities & Information


Opening Times:

For the Castle:

From March to October:

Mon to Sun: 09:45 to 17:15 (last admission at 16:00)

From November to February:

Mon to Sun: 09:45 to 16:15 (last admission at 15:00)


The castle is a working royal palace and as such there are occasions when the castle may be closed or closed early or operate alternative opening hours at short notice. It is recommended visitors check all opening and closing times and specific days visits are open when booking to get the latest information & avoid disappointment, as changes can occur.


Further Information:

Admission Prices:

Windsor Castle:

Adult: £15.50 approx, Children: £9.00 approx, Concessions: £14.00 approx, Family Ticket: £41 approx

Windsor Castle (Prices when the State Apartments are closed):

Adult: £8.50 approx, Children: £5.50 approx, Concessions: £7.50 approx, Family Ticket: £22.50 approx

Facilities:

Facilities include Toilets and Baby care provisions.

Bottled Drinks and Ice Cream is available on site. There are a number of restaurants, bars and Cafes outside the Castle in the town of Windsor.

Map



View Larger Map

For Local Search and Directions see: Windsor Castle Map

Tips & Other Considerations


There may be some variations on the opening hours depending on the time of year and the attraction you wish to see i.e. the palace & chapel. It is wise to double check before going to ensure the attraction you wish to see is open and avoid disappointment.

Follow common sense travel information & advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to Windsor Castle ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the online journey planner for door to door directions. Check the traffic information before you start your trip.

If you are looking for car parking close to the Castle, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, do not park there. Parking rules & regulations are strictly enforced.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.





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