Windsor Castle

July 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Posted in General, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 3 Comments
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My university offers a number of tourist activities throughout the year, including reduced price tickets to see Windsor Castle. That was the excuse I needed to see one of the Queen’s residences in the town of Windsor (about an hour from Waterloo, London).

However, it did have the downside of putting me into a tour group situation which meant I didn’t really get the experience to explore Windsor (and Eton) or savour the castle as deeply as I may have wanted. On the plus side I met some great people. On the other downside, forgot my camera. So…. sorry about that.

After ascending the spiral road from the station we arrived at the visitor centre and being a group we were fast tracked past those waiting in line. Once through we picked up our audio guides (free with the ticket and absolutely essential for appreciating the castle). The normal caveat about audio guides and the unfortunate consequence of pacing around waiting for the dialogue to finish comes into play here.

You do get a few options as to which route to take, this is particularly advantageous as it acts to split the tourists up and hopefully making your progress through more pleasant than trudging in a sea of people.

After a view over the fields and town near the castle we entered the building proper. Our first sight was of an enormous and intricate dolls house, this then lead through a few other rooms housing special exhibits and some of table sets the Queen has received. Afterwards you make your way up a set of stairs into an imposing entry chamber with suits of armor and weapons on the walls. From here you proceed into a number of the state apartments, each with their own histories and artwork from the royal collection. Lastly you’ll go through sections dealing with the fire and reconstruction of the castle, some of the UKs military traditions and the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Also within the castle grounds is a chapel which is very ornate. Although by this point I/we were flagging so opted to do a quick view before heading out to lunch.

Would I recommend Windsor Castle? It’s difficult. I certainly think it’s interesting and has a dramatic history and setting but conversely the adult entry price (even with audio guide) makes me shudder a little at £16. I was certainly happy to pay the discounted rate £13.05. Yes it’s only £3 but exceeding £15 for a ticket is a strong psychological barrier.

However if that price isn’t too bad for you should go!

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  1. I had a slightly more favorable reaction to Windsor, but perhaps that’s because I’m a historian. Seeing the armor worn by Prince Hal, the bullet the felled Nelson, the furniture of succeeding royals, relics of victories and empire, and myriad other historic memorabilia was completely fascinating to me. I loved the grand dining room, with its vaulted ceiling so clearly built by a ship’s builder. And that little chapel was remarkable because all the many colors of the art covering its walls are natural stone.

    I’d be hard pressed to choose between Windsor and Hampton Court, if I could only do one palace, though I think Hampton Court wins by a nose. But I do quite like Windsor. The price is a bit steep, but one can actually make a whole day of it, which makes it seem less awful. But I would say it’s not for everyone.

    • Oh wow! Waltzingaustralia you’ve definitely painted a wonderful picture of Windsor. You’re right the artefacts and individual rooms are very interesting. I’ll put my antipathy down to the tour group dynamic and battling a cold at the time. Think I’ll have to find a reason to go back again sometime.

      As for Windsor v Hampton, I think I’d go for Hampton becuase of the lush gardens, the various activities they have within the palace (like the actor guides) and of course the incredible maze. OK that last one might be a bit of an overstatement.

      • Touring Hampton Court Palace seems a bit more relaxed, but that probably because it’s not really anyone’s home anymore. Also, being a culinary historian, I love the kitchens at Hampton Court.


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