Situated in the county of Berkshire, just 44 miles from the centre of London, Windsor Castle is one of the most well-known and favourite royal residences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
If you want to find out more about the oldest inhabited castle in the world, then here are 10 interesting facts about Windsor Castle you may not know.
- In 1066 after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror built a series of fortresses to secure the city of London and keep the unruly Saxons in their place. One of these was the Tower of London; another was Windsor Castle. The castle was strategically placed to overlook the River Thames and the surrounding Windsor Forest.
- Built as a fortress, the original castle was constructed from wood in the motte-and-bailey style. In the 1200s, it was reinforced with stone and withstood a two-month siege during the Barons War. Today, you can still see the murder holes in the Norman Gate from where invaders were bombarded with boiling oil.
- Henry I was the first monarch to use the castle as a residence, while Edward III used money from his battle victories in France to make lavish expansions, making it the most expensive building project of the Middle Ages.
- Henry VII spent even more, around £300 million in today’s money, to update it. He used the castle as a playground for hunting, shooting and entertaining.
- Windsor Castle was a favourite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. On 14th December 1861, Prince Albert died in the Blue Room here. In deep mourning, Victoria spent most of her time at Windsor or at Balmoral in Scotland and insisted his rooms were maintained exactly as they were when he was alive. She became known as ‘The Widow of Windsor’.
- During the First World War, George V wanted to distance the Royal family from their German heritage so, inspired by the Royal residence, he changed the family’s surname from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor.
- The devastating fire of 1992 which highlighted the Queen’s ‘Annus Horribilus’, began in the Queen’s Private Chapel at 11.15 am on 20th November. The heat from a spotlight ignited a curtain it was leaning against. The extensive damage cost £36.5 million to repair.
- The Great Kitchen has cooked up meals for 32 monarchs including the Queen. Today there are 33 kitchen staff, 20 chefs and sous chefs, 3 pastry chefs and 10 porters. The clocks in the Great Kitchen are always set to be five minutes fast so that the Queen will never be served late.
- St George’s Chapel in the grounds of the castle is the burial site of 10 monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I. On her death, the Queen will also be buried here.
- The chapel at Windsor Castle is the chosen location for the upcoming wedding ceremony between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The young royals will tie the knot here on 19th May this year.
Our expert tour guides have plenty more facts and fascinating stories about Windsor Castle. You can see our tours featuring Windsor Castle here, or have a look at our London Tours Page for more general information.