Visiting Windsor and Windsor Castle for a Day
The day started off bright and clear so we thought, let’s do a road trip to visit Windsor Castle. We had no desire to see inside the castle itself as the £20 charge was a little steep for those of us on a budget so we figured we can just take photos from the outside of the Castle. Arriving at Windsor, we found a parking spot and tucked the car in just behind the Castle. If we knew then what we know now we would have taken a better look at the area and not parked there because the resultant ticket cost us £35. Lesson learned.
Visiting Windsor Castle is an expensive proposition for 2 people, it is only a self-guided tour but it does take around 3 to 4 hours to see the whole site. We walked down from our parking spot which was at the back of the castle to the front area noticing the absolutely huge line up of folks wanting to get into see the place. There were literally hundreds of people in line and we decided it was a good thing we were not planning on going in. We passed around the back of the Windsor parish church and High Street. The beautiful old parish church of St John the Baptist dates back to 1822 and backs onto the Castle. Apparently a self-guided tour takes around 3 hours.
Visiting Windsor the village
Then we meandered around the side of the castle down to the High Street. Windsor is obviously a well-kept little town, very clean with thousands of tourists milling around. The Castle itself which has been around for a 1000 years sits on 5 hectares/13 acres it is breath taking, in fact it is the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world and it’s where Her Majesty The Queen chooses to spend most of her private weekends.
If you are very lucky you might even be visiting when she is “at home”! Check the flag flying from the Castle’s Round Tower; if it’s the Royal Standard the Queen will be in. On 20 November 1992, a major fire took place at Windsor Castle, the fire lasted for 15 hours and caused millions of pounds worth of damage. It is believed now that a spotlight that was used in maintenance work set fire to a curtain which quickly spread and destroyed 9 of the principal staterooms, and badly damaged over a 100 others.
As we watched the folks queuing to get in, we decided to troll further down the High street and grab a few shots of the iconic Queen Victoria statue at the front of the castle. This fine bronze statue of Queen Victoria was designed and executed by Sir Edgar Boehm. It was erected in 1887 in celebration of the queen’s Golden Jubilee. The cost of £2,500 was covered by subscriptions from the people of Windsor and the surrounding districts.
We took a walk around the front of the castle, meandering down to the Thames were we had decided to take a boat tour of the river to be able to take in the views and just watch the birdlife.
We embarked on a French Brothers 40 minute cruise, which was just great value for money at £7 each. The boat goes from the Windsor Bridge pier just a short walk away from the centre of town. The Windsor Bridge was built in 1824, or rather completed in 1824, as there were apparently many problems with the building of the bridge. The structure is quite weak and has been closed to traffic since 1970.
To the right of the river is Eton the famed Eton founded by Henry VIII in 1440. Rowing and swimming took place just down the river from Windsor for many years.
There is lots to see along the water from the racecourse at Ascot to the interesting water birds spotted on the river. The swans that flock to the waterside and beg tourists for food are a treat. To own swans has always been a privilege granted by the crown. Today there are three owners of the swans, the Monarch, and the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers. On the pier, you will find boxes of swan food to feed these hungry birds.
After a lovely 40 minutes cruise we disembarked and strolled up to the High Street. Walking along, we chanced upon the Fudge Kitchen shop. Being very big fudge fans, we decided to check it out but convinced ourselves we were not going to buy any. So we entered to be greeted by Jimmy handing out huge fudge samples, we which obligingly tasted. The fudge was absolutely superb and so naturally we had to buy some. Jimmy told us not to refrigerate the fudge, it could be frozen or eaten but refrigeration apparently kills the texture – who knew?
Windsor Royal Shopping is located opposite Windsor castle in the grade II listed Victorian Railway Station. Many of the original features remain including Jubilee arch, the cobbled stones and Queen Victoria’s Royal Waiting Room. This shopping area is just beautiful with over 40 top of the line shops and dozens of cafes, restaurants and bars it is a unique use of an old Victorian Railway station and you can still grab a train here.
Walking back up the High street we passed the newly opened Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Restaurant opposite Sir Christopher Wren’s Guildhall and decided as foodies this would be well worth a visit and blowing the budget. Unfortunately, we were incredibly disappointed, there was absolutely no service and we waited over 15 minutes to get noticed and served and nothing. So we left and wandered over the road to a lovely pub called the Three Tuns and had a great Panini sandwich and a cider.
We had a great lunch after a severe disappointment and then walked the cobblestone streets back to the car. Even with a parking ticket, the day trip to Windsor was a great success.
We were incredibly lucky to be housesitting in Berkshire for 3 months and got to see a great deal of both the Berkshire area and of London itself. Here are a variety of articles you can take a look at on our adventures.
The Avebury Henge – where you can wander the stone paths and touch the huge neolithic stones
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