Monday, February 07, 2005

Visit to Windsor Castle and Eton

Back to sightseeing again yesterday, but this time we took Daniel and Renee with us to see the villages of Windsor and Eton, which are south-west of London and home to the one of the Queen's residences, Windsor Castle, which at over 900 years old is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world..

Dan, Renee, and Carly infront of the quadrangle and in the background is the wing of the Castle in the Upper Ward where the Queen lives when in residence

Dan being a goose inside the Castle

The Windsor township is fairly non-descript, with the usual High Street and many pubs and quaint tea houses.. but it is its location on the upper reaches of the Thames River and in the shadow of the castle on the hill that make it and the adjacent Eton village very unique.

Carly and Dan in the Windsor villiage outside the Castle

Our timing for our visit to the castle was perfect, as they only open several of the semi-state rooms (previously George IV's private apartments) during winter time, so we were able to see things that the summer tourist crowds miss out on.. These were very impressive, more so because of the extensive restoration works that had been undertaken following the fire that destroyed just over 100 rooms in 1992 - you wouldn't have known that many of the imaculate rooms that we walked through had been completely destroyed, to the point of ceilings and floors collapsing, and priceless art works that had been thrown out from the top of the castle walls to safety are now back hanging on the walls.. Carly and Renee loved these rooms, especially the Crimson Drawing Room, as its furnishings and fittings are nothing short of regal and give you a good insight into what it would be like living like the Queen does..

Carly and Shane in front of the Round Tower at the centre of the Castle

Dan, Carly, and Renee

You are also able to walk down St George's Hall, which is the castle's State Dining room, which you see on TV when Heads of State visit or the Queen holds a banquet for a special occaision - considering the length of the 160 seat table they put in here, Dan of course contemplated how you would deal with passing the gravy..

They also had several rooms containing ancient armours, swords, and weaponry - most of which had been given to the Royals as gifts from conquered nations, tribes, and other Royals from around the world - it was a very impressive collection.. The Waterloo Chamber was also amazing, as it contained huge portraits undertaken to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, and is exactly the type of room with portraits adorning the walls that you see in television footage and documentary's taken inside the castle..

Carly, Shane, and Dan with one of the very serious looking guards standing around the Castle

We also visited the fourteenth century St George's Chapel adjacent to the Castle, where we saw the tombs of 10 sovereigns, as well as the Queen Mother..

While we were there we took the opportunity to walk around to the front of the Castle, where the Queen's residence looks directly south down the 3 mile long Long Walk which stretches all the way into Windsor Great Park.. We have already visited the Park at the other end of the Long Walk during the first few hours of being in England - see that entry and photos from the 16th September here:

Carly at the Castle end of the Long Walk, looking towards Windsor Great Park

We finished the day getting warm by the fire in a pub across the river in Eton, before the 40 minute train trip back on the train to Putney overland station - a day trip definitely recommended for any visitors coming over here later this year!



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