Part 11: Windsor Castle


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The Trip

Windsor Castle is the Royal residence and has been in continuous use for 900 years.  Construction was started by William the Conqueror after the Normans invaded and it has is the longest occupied palace in Europe.  Unlike Kensington, this is "the real deal" and is everything that a royal castle should be: big, imposing, durable and totally over-the-top.  From London, the trip to Windsor required one tube ride and two train rides.  But, despite the flogging obtained during rush hour both ways, it was worth it.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The stonework was impressive.  The whole castle has been upgraded over the years adding additional fortifications, facilities and amenities such as running water, sewer and electric power.

Windsor is actually in use as a residence by the Queen and she was in the house when we were there.  This gate was not open to tourists.

The main tower has been enlarged over the years with the last enhancement being an additional 10 meters to the top to make it "look more like a castle".

Construction started 1070AD and back then burning wood and coal was the only way to keep warm.  Note the abundance of chimneys.

Tourists enter through the St. James Gate.

At a medieval site, I did not expect to hear constant jet noise.  Turns out that Windsor, like many attractions in the area, is on the flight path to Heathrow.

We entered the castle through the St. George gate.  St. George is the patron saint of the Order of the Garter, the oldest British Order of Chivalry, founded in 1348.  The carving shows St. George slaying a dragon.

Windsor is a royal residence and therefore there were vast areas of the castle that were off limits to common tourists.

From the entrance, we could see the original mote that has been drained and turned into a garden.

Looking the opposite direction we could see other high towers in the castle.

There are a number of folks that reside at Windsor beside the royal family (which is not always in the castle).  These quarters were in a restricted area.

Tourists were not supposed to take photos in St. George's chapel, but sometimes you have to live dangerously.  I carried the camera at my waist and did a "point and pray".  Note the columns that are constructed of carved rock with webbing.

Directly overhead, the details of the carving were incredible and represent the highest level of the stone mason's art.  Heraldic crests were embedded in the centers of the designs.

I managed to get a fleeting shot of the organ.  Not to brag, but this photo was taken from my lap with an exposure time of 0.8 seconds and the camera did a great job of stabilizing the image.  This is the longest hand-held exposure I have done.  The Sony A7M2 does a really, really good job.

There were nice stained glass windows in chapel.

Having huge jets in the same area as a medieval castle was somewhat disquieting, if you can excuse the pun.

The buildings along the moat path were imposing.

On our way to the State Apartment, we had to go through a large portico.

Along the wall was a set of cannons that were captured in the 1800s.  This one was captured in Borneo in 1844.

Every proper medieval castle has to have gargoyles.  But usually gargoyles are used as the exit spout for the rain gutters; these were purely decorative.

The inner walls were set with sharp pieces of flint into the mortar.  I think of it as medieval razor wire.  These stones were razor sharp.

This cannon was in a ship wreck and then later salvaged, thus accounting for the massive corrosion.

In every area that you would want to take photos they were prohibited.  But, I did manage to sneak a shot of this statue of Queen Victoria.

The military guard band played while the guard changed.  It was a nice gesture, but the band was clearly the second string group.  To be frank, they sucked.

The changing of the guard is a big deal for the tourists.

The guard changed several times during our visit.

Solitary guards were stationed at various points around the castle.

This open plaza was the buffer zone between the tourist area and the royal living quarters.

This is St. George's Chapel from the outside.

The chapel was constructed using classic Gothic style including flying buttresses.

We saw all we could see and then left the Windsor grounds to find some food in the community outside the main gate.  The statue is of Queen Victoria.

Windsor Castle was all that you would expect a castle to be.  Sadly, we could not take photos inside where the "good stuff" was located.  Art, arms collections, armor, jewels, paintings and solid silver furniture.  All I can say is that if you visit London, this must be on your "A list".

Next, we take the train back into London and make a stop at the Science Museum.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2015, all rights reserved.
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