Windsor Castle


    Part of ring around London to both protect and control the city, Windsor Castle sets on a hill 100 feet above Thames, the only easily defensible area on the upper portion of the river.  Originally an earth and wood castle built starting in 1080, stone began replacing wood in the 1170s.  The castle became a popular royal residence because of a nearby hunting park, and it is now the Queen's favorite palace, of which she opens up much of to the public.  The Round Tower roughly divides the Lower and Upper Wards, and we will follow a fairly typical tourist route from the train station in the town of Windsor that sprung up to serve the castle.


Lower Ward Walls

    This is the view from the Pizza Express, an upscale establishment which is nevertheless not as good as, and not as good of a value as, Pizza Hut.  Still, the view from the second floor is good, isn't it?  The Thames is off picture to left, and you can see that the walls ascend a hill toward the right.  The Curfew Tower appropriately enough has a clock, and the windows were added after the walls were made obsolete by gunpowder artillery.

Lower Ward Walls

    Continuing to the tourist entrance, you can see the Salisbury Tower on the left end of the photo, which can also be seen in the previous photo.  So you  can see that this stretch of walls also climbs uphill to the center of the castle, marked by the Round Tower on the far right.  The prominent exit on the left is the King Henry VIII Gate.

Continuing further toward the entrance, you can see the Mary Tudor, Henry III, and Saxon Towers followed by a relatively short wall around the Round Tower, which links up the Lower and Upper Ward walls.  We'll next go through a gate followed by the St. George's Gate.

This is the view looking from inside the low outer wall toward the St. George's Gate.  After a short exhibit on the castle, you can enter the Lower Ward.

Lower Ward Looking Downhill

    Approaching the castle from the train station, we walked along the outside of the the walls on the left of the picture.  The Albert Memorial Chapel on the right dates to 1240s and was built by Henry III.  Beyond it is St. George's Chapel built starting in 1475s by Edward IV and finished by Henry VIII.  Ten kings and queens are buried in the chapel, and it is the "spiritual home" of the Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III in the 1300s.

    The area of the distant wall is scene to the changing of the guard when the queen is in residence.  When I visited, the band played the theme song to "Dallas".  Despite the best efforts of PETA, the men still wear bear skin hats.


Lower Ward Looking Uphill

    From this angle, you can see the Round Tower, which we will now walk toward, then around and through the Norman Gate into the Upper Ward.

    The opening in the walls on the left leads to the tourist entrance to the state apartments where visitors can marvel at the Queen's art and furnishings - but not take pictures of them.  Just beyond it is the Magazine Tower followed by the Norman Gate.  For now let's forego the opening and instead continue past the Round Tower toward the double towered Norman Gate, which was built in 1357 when the Upper Ward was rebuilt.

    The Round Tower holds the Royal Archives and the Royal Photograph Collection.  The garden of the Governor of Windsor Castle is a source of wonderment to adults and children alike.

Upper Ward

    In this panorama you can see people on the right showing the way from the Norman Gate into the Engine Court.  The area on the left is the Quadrangle, closed to the public by a fence over which this photo was taken.

The Quadrangle

    This is a more detailed view of the Quadrangle, including a statue to Charles II, who built new state apartments here.  George III and IV also extensively renovated the castle, making it much like it is today, despite a fire in 1992.

    Remember that opening in the walls that heads to the state apartments.  This is the view from just through that opening.  Behind the walls, the Norman Gate and Round Tower are visible, while on the walls themselves, which front the 100 foot hill, the Magazine Tower and the Winchester Tower are visible.  Further to the right, the walls extend downhill to protect the Lower Ward.

King George IV Tower

    If you continue in the direction of the line for the state apartments, you can see an example of how the towers have been altered in order to make the castle more of a residence.

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