Windsor Castle. What a splendid Royal dwelling. This year, with the marriage of Harry and Meghan, the spotlight came to be on this fantastic location. But how much do you know about it? Consider what we will briefly explain.
Windsor Castle – History
Although more associated with Berkshire than London, Windsor Castle is a must see for any visitors to the capital. However, lying about 20 miles from the city, makes it a close day trip, or, even half day trip for those staying in the Capital. The distance from the city is actually quite an important fact…why? Consider this: William the Conqueror originally built the castle in the decade following 1066, after the Norman conquest of the land, and, it’s distance was no mere accident. This distance formed part of a defensive ring of Motte and Bailey castles around the city. Each of these was approximately the same distance from the city and this close proximity allowed reinforcements to be dispatched easily and with a minimum of time.
With the circumference of London being so vast, it was no fluke that this location in particular was singled out for the castle. Windsor Castle had a strategic position, lying near the River Thames and Windsor Forest.
The castle once built, was quite different to what we see today when we visit it. Initially, it was a wooden construct, but what exactly is a Motte and Bailey castle? This type of castle was a fortification made of a wooden or stone keep, which was built upon a Motte, which was raised earthwork. The Bailey aspect of the Motte and Bailey castles were enclosed courtyards protected by a ditch and palisade. So, this Motte and Bailey castle was clearly for military reasons primarily.
Windsor Castle – Becoming A Residence
So, if Windsor Castle was intitially a military outpost, was it a residence for the Royals? No, for the early part of it’s history, the Norman kings who reigned preferred a separate location to call home: the palace of Edward the Confessor, which was located in Old Windsor.
As we can imagine, a building which contained large amounts of wood was not indestructible. So, in the years that followed, several areas of this Motte and Bailey construct did collapse. However, during the reign of Henry 2nd, primarily in the years between 1165 and 1179, large amounts of renovation and restoration work was done. The previous wood sections slowly began to be replaced by stone, Bagshot Heath stone in particular. It was also Henry who started to do more work on the residential side of the castle.
Later, King John also did work to the castle, and, the work was primarily directed at the residential side of the castle instead of the military aspects. At long last the castle began a long journey to the residence that we see today.
After damage sustained during military operations, Henry 3rd saw the need to fortify the castle’s defences. However, even Henry saw the importance of the castle as a residence and it is listed as one of his three favorite residences. Even more importantly to it’s current use, he invested more in this castle than in any of his other residences, building a luxury style palace between the years of 1240 and 1263.
Edward 3rd, who was actually born at the castle, continued the theme of it’s being a residence. Edward undertook to rebuild Henry’s palace. Why? As a residence fit for a king, Edward wanted the castle to symbolize royal power and chivalry. The transformation from military outpost to royal residence was now well established.
Whilst many, many events occurred during the following centuries, if we forward wind to the reign of Edward 7th beginning in 1901, the residential character of the castle was again greatly enhanced. Edward began work with a clear motive, to modernize the castle. This motivation was so strong that historians note that he took to the task with “enthusiasm and zest”. Some of the modern features that Edward is credited with, are: electric lighting to more rooms, telephone lines installed, central heating(a must in the English climate!), and garages which now became a necessity considering that automobiles had started their rise to prominence.
With the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth in 1952, the castle became her preferred choice as a weekend retreat and further modernization followed. However, an event occurred which would strongly affect the castle.
On November 20 1992, a major fire broke out at the castle, This fire lasted for around 15 hours and primarily affected the Upper Ward. The cause? The renovations, designed to improve the castle, actually contributed to it’s damage. In the castle’s private chapel, a spot light is believed to have initiated the fire which followed.
The damage to the castle was extensive. Nine of the principal state rooms were destroyed, and around 100 others also suffered major damage.
The fire did, however allow further modernization. Whilst a lot of the pre-fire architecture was restored, modern touches were also applied. The total cost of the work was 37 million pounds.
Now, the castle was what we see today when we visit, and many, many do visit. In 2007 approximately 993,000 visitors visit this historic and characterful royal residence.
But, how much will it cost to visit the castle?
A family of 5(2 adults, 3 children under 17) costs 54 pounds and 70p.
The rate for disabled people or under 17’s is 12 pounds 30p
Over 60’s or Students with id, the rate is 19 pounds 30p
Now, before you visit, take in the history of this castle, let it soak in, then, as you visit you will fully appreciate how this beautiful and modernized castle came to be here today. It will be a trip you, and we, at window cleaning Perth, will never forget!