Monday, 24 May 2010

Windsor Castle and its surroundings Part 1of 2

The Castle
One of the true pleasures of living in England for me (as a foreigner) is experiencing the richness of English heritage, history and culture.there is so much to see across the country and indeed in its neighboring, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Being a lover of architecture (the older the better) one of the things that I am naturally drawn to and that the British excel in is their state homes, manor houses and castles. One such landmark caught my attention when I visited the town named after it... Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is an impressive and indeed grand building, beautifully sculpted and presented as a strong fortress that is impregnable. 

Windsor Castle History
Windsor Castle, in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world.The original construction, a motte and bailey (an artificial hill with with a fenced area at the top), was built for William the Conqueror around the year 1080. The castle's floor area is approximately 484,000square feet (44,965 square metresOriginally part of a ring of defenses around London, Windsor Castle gradually became a popular Royal residence because of the good hunting in the nearby forest. The Round Tower, along with the original outer wall, was erected for King Henry II.  Further improvements and enlargements took place over the centuries until the magnificent castle we see today finally emerged in 1830. A favourite of Queen Victoria, the castle survived for most of the last century with few changes. [].

20 November 1992 was a black day for Windsor Castle. A fire, started it is thought by a workman's spotlight, caught hold in the Private Chapel. Quickly spreading above the wooden ceiling panelling, the fire raged out of control for hours and gutted many rooms. The smoke and flames were visible for miles around. Flames could be seen shooting out from the roof of one of the towers, almost making it look like a huge firework. Windsor castle is now fully reopened to the visitor after the painstaking restoration at a cost of almost £40 million. The damaged rooms were restored to their original state. The gutted areas were rebuilt to new designs in keeping with the old [].

Together with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, it is one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining. Her other two residences, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle, are the Royal Family's private homes. Most of the Kings and Queens of England, later Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom, have had a direct influence on the construction and evolution of the castle, which has been their garrison fortress, home, official palace, and sometimes their prison. Chronologically the history of the castle can be traced through the reigns of the monarchs who have occupied it. When the country has been at peace, the castle has been expanded by the additions of large and grand apartments; when the country has been at war, the castle has been more heavily fortified. This pattern has continued to the present day. [].
The castle is very impressive and the town that surrounds it is very charming, full of lovely things to see and do set against the backdrop of the River Thames, a place well worth visiting for the English and foreigners alike. 

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