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Visiting Windsor Castle

Just a meander upriver from The Runnymede on Thames is Windsor Castle – the oldest occupied castle in the world, home of the Queen of England and location of 2018’s Royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Here’s what to expect on a visit there.

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The magnificent Windsor Castle was originally built in the 11th century, following the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. It’s been used by the reigning monarch more or less ever since, hence why it’s the oldest occupied castle in the world. It was designed to protect Norman dominance in the outskirts of London and guard a strategically important stretch of the River Thames. It’s been updated and modified in parts over the centuries, but it remains an awe-inspiring sight. We’re proud to call the castle one of our neighbours.

Visiting the castle today proves to be a treat for adults and children, historians and architecture buffs, and keen horticulturalists and knowledge-thirsty visitors from all walks of life. Visitors can go into the State Apartments – complete with works of art by Rembrandt and Rubens – and the Semi-State Rooms, used by the Queen for official entertaining. One of the favourite intricacies to be found in Windsor Castle is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, built for Queen Mary by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in the 1920s. A tiny but perfect replica of an aristocratic home, the house is filled with thousands of designs by top artists and craftsmen.

It’s also possible to watch the amazing Changing the Guard ceremony four mornings per week at Windsor Castle – a time-honoured tradition loved as much by locals as by visitors. Tours by the castle’s spectacularly knowledgeable wardens – included within the ticket price – are also perfect for a whistle-stop history, before going off to explore alone. Don’t miss St George’s Chapel, the 15th Century gothic building which will be the location of the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 19 May 2018. It’s a spot of many Royal celebrations from times past too, which includes a prayer service after Prince Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.

We love Windsor Castle because it’s also much more than a living museum that you can explore by yourself. There’s a thriving calendar of events throughout the year to give visitors a deeper connection with the castle too. There are performances of plays such as Sleeping Beauty, special tours for groups and one-off exhibitions. Families are kept especially entertained with sessions to try on armour and other costumes, storytelling events and craft workshops.

For those who love a breath of fresh air, there are small patches of pristine greenery to explore on the castle grounds. Leading up to the castle is the famous Long Walk, a gorgeous tree-lined avenue with the impressive vision of Windsor Castle perfectly framed at the end. Part of the huge Windsor Great Park, there’s plenty to explore for outdoorsy types. The Savill Garden is especially enjoyed by keen gardeners, with its range of rare and unusual plants first commissioned by Queen Charlotte.

Windsor Castle is just 15 minutes by car from The Runnymede on Thames, or a minimum of 2 hours by boat  (April to October).

Find out more about hiring one of our river boats. 

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