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18 Things You Should Know About Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is not just one of the most sought-after destinations in England, it’s also home to centuries of royalties and a wealth of heritage that goes down through generations of Englishmen.  Aside from being the biggest inhabited castle in the world and home of the British Royal Family, what else do you know about Windsor Castle? Here’s 18 facts you might find interesting to add up to the excitement you’ll feel the next time you visit Windsor Castle.

St. George's Chapel

Windsor Castle, in the English county of Berkshire, was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror.

Since the time of Henry I, Windsor Castle has been used by succeeding monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.

 The castle played a role during the revolt of the English barons: the castle was besieged in 1214, and John used the castle as his base during the negotiations before the signing of the Magna Carta at nearby Runnymede in 1215.

Between 1350 and 1377, King Edward III spent £51,000 on renovating Windsor Castle; this was the largest amount spent by any English medieval monarch on just one building operation, and over one and a half times Edward's typical annual income of £30,000.

Elizabeth I spent much of her time at Windsor Castle and used it a safe haven in crises, "knowing it could stand a siege if need be".

Read: Windsor Castle: The Official Illustrated History by John Martin Robinson

Henry VIII Gateway

During the English Civil War, the Castle was heavily looted. Edward IV's bejewelled coat of mail was stolen; the chapel's organs, windows and books were destroyed; and the Lady Chapel was looted, including the component parts of Henry VIII's unfinished tomb. It is estimated that around 3580 oz (101 kg) of gold and silver plate was stolen from the castle.

King George III was confined at the Castle after he was diagnosed with madness.

At the request of King George IV, Parliament  allotted £300,000 for Windsor Castle’s restoration.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert chose Windsor Castle to be their main residence although the Queen reportedly disliked the place early in her reign because it seems "dull and tiresome" and "prison-like."

Prince Albert died in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle in 1861. He was buried in the Royal Mausoleum built at nearby Frogmore, within the Home Park.

Queen Victoria wished that Prince Albert’s rooms remain exactly the way it was at the time of his death. In fact, Queen Victoria remained in a state of mourning for many years, earning her the moniker "Widow of Windsor", a phrase popularized by Rudyard Kipling. Windsor Castle also served as the Queen’s preferred residence when conducting official businesses.

Read: The Queen's Houses by Alan Titschmarsh

Photograph of Queen Victoria and Princess  Beatrice inside Windsor Castle
taken by Danish  photographer Mary Steen, 1895.

The Castle saw minor improvements during the Victorian era. The Queen disliked gaslight and preferred candles. At the end of her reign, only a limited portion of the castle was installed with electric lighting.

It was during the reign of King Edward VII that Windsor Castle was modernized; rooms were de-cluttered and redecorated, electric lighting was added to more rooms, along with central heating; telephone lines were installed together with garages for the newly invented automobiles.

Queen Mary was also a lover of all things miniature, and a famous dolls' house was created for her at Windsor Castle, designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens and furnished by leading craftsmen and designers of the 1930s.

 George decided to take the new name from the castle, and the Royal Family became the House of Windsor in 1917.

Windsor Castle was used as a refuge for the royal family during the Luftwaffe bombing campaigns of the Second World War.

Watch: The Queen's Palaces (BBC)

The Crimson Drawing Room today

In February 1952, Elizabeth II came to the throne and decided to make Windsor her principal weekend retreat

On 20 November 1992, a major fire occurred at Windsor Castle, lasting for 15 hours and causing widespread damage to the Upper Ward.

The restoration program was not completed until 1997, at a total cost of £37 million (£50.2 million in 2009 terms).

Read: Royal Romances: Titillating Tales of Passion and Power in the Palaces of Europe by Leslie Carroll

Thousands of guests visit Windsor Castle every day.


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