Monday, 2 September 2013

Windsor Castle

Last night's sunset
Today we went through Windsor Castle the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Its rich history spans almost 1000 years. The Castle covers an area of about 5 hectares (13 acres) and contains magnificent State Apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection, St George's Chapel (one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs). Unfortunately being Sunday we were not able to see inside the chapel. Queen Mary's Dolls House, a true masterpiece in miniature, it is really hard to believe that small children actually were allowed to play with it. The Drawings Gallery featuring an exhibition of Queen Victoria and Prince Charles works of art.

Much of the southern part of the State Apartments was destroyed by fire in 1992 and has been restored. Some of the rooms that were beginning to look faded and antique now are brought alive to what the original rooms would have looked like on completion.

St George's Gate

The Queen uses the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties. Every year The Queen takes up official residence in Windsor Castle for a month over Easter (March-April), known as Easter Court. During that time The Queen hosts occasional 'dine and sleeps' events for guests, including politicians and public figures. Windsor Castle is often used by The Queen to host State Visits from overseas monarchs and presidents. Foreign Heads of State enter the Castle in horse-drawn carriages through the George IV Gateway into the quadrangle in the Upper Ward, where a military guard of honour is drawn up.  

Those who live and work within the Castle include the titular head of the Castle community, the Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle; the Dean of Windsor, Canons and other staff who run the College of St George; the Military Knights of Windsor; the Superintendent of Windsor Castle and his staff, who are responsible for day-to-day administration; the Housekeeper and her staff; and soldiers who mount a permanent military guard in the Castle.

At the west end of the Lower Ward is the Horseshoe Cloister, originally built in 1480, near to the chapel to house its clergy. It houses the vicars-choral, or lay clerks of the chapel. This curved brick and timber building is said to have been designed to resemble the shape of a fetlock, one of the badges used by Edward IV. George Gilbert Scott heavily restored the building in 1871 and little of the original structure remains. Other ranges originally built by Edward III sit alongside the Horseshoe, featuring stone perpendicular tracery. As of 2011, they are used as offices, a library and as the houses for the Dean and Canons.

Behind the Horseshoe Cloister is the Curfew Tower, one of the oldest surviving parts of the Lower Ward and dating from the 13th century. The interior of the tower contains a former dungeon, and the remnants of a sally port, a secret exit for the occupants in a time of siege. The upper storey contains the castle bells placed there in 1478, and the castle clock of 1689. The French-style conical roof is a 19th-century attempt by Anthony Salvin to remodel the tower in the fashion of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc's recreation of Carcassonne.

On the opposite side of the chapel is a range of buildings including the lodgings of the Military Knights, and the residence of the Governor of the Military Knights. These buildings originate from the 16th century and are still used by the Knights, who represent the Order of the Garter each Sunday. On the south side of the Ward is King Henry VIII's gateway, which bears the coat of arms of Catherine of Aragon and forms the secondary entrance to the castle.

We went for a walk through Windsor and had some lunch after being in the castle and we came across The Queen 1894 the royal train and next door in the now coffee shop which was the Queens Waiting Room.

View of the caste from High Street

The Diamond Jubilee Fountain in Alexander Gardens

The Windsor Bridge 1824 crossing the Thames

High Street Eton we walked along on the way to Eton College
Eton College, often informally referred to as Eton, is a British independent boarding school located in Eton, next to Windsor. It educates over 1,300 pupils, aged between 13 to 18 years and was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor".

Eton is one of nine English independent schools, commonly referred to as "public schools", included in the original Public Schools Act 1868. Following the public school tradition, Eton is a full boarding school, which means all pupils live at the school, and is one of four such remaining single-sex boys' public schools in the United Kingdom to continue this practice. It has educated nineteen British Prime Ministers and generations of aristocracy, and has been referred to as the chief nurse of England's statesmen.

Eton College Chapel


Plague on the side wall of Radcliffe House Eton

Jackets for sale in High Street Eton

Thames Bridge 1824

Windsor Castle from The Long Walk

Looking down the Long Walk 2.5 miles

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