Changing the Guard | Royal Palaces / Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, which has been the family home of British Kings and Queen's for over 900 years, is an historic castle, Royal Palace and a family home that is open to visitors.

Looming over the town and surrounding countryside Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest continuously inhabited castle in the world and one of the Queen's three official residences.

The site was chosen by William the Conqueror as it was only one day's march from the Tower of London and because it provided a good defence against attack from the west.

Since the 11th century, the castle has been home to 39 monarchs who have shaped the building into what is reputed to be 'The Queen's' favourite official residence.

As well as the home where 'The Queen' spends most weekends Windsor Castle is very much a working royal palace which is regularly used for ceremonial and State occasion.

Windsor Castle opens to the public daily, including Sunday, at 09:45. The times of the last admission differs, depending on the time of year.

As during State Visits or ceremonial occasions Windsor Castle or areas of the castle are sometimes closed to the public check the provisional closure dates when you are planning a visit.

Visit Windsor Castle - Official Video


? Crown Copyright | Courtesy Royal Collection

Inside Windsor Castle

A typical visit to Windsor Castle last two to three hours.

Should you want to leave during your visit for refreshments, in the town, you can get a re-entry permit from the castle shops or audio return point.

A complimentary audio tour lets you visit the State Apartments, the Drawings Gallery, Queen Mary?s Dolls? House and St George?s Chapel at your leisure

The State Apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection.
Such are the treasures that you can perhaps look at an obscure painting only to realise that your are inches from an original Rubens when looking at the information on it.

St George's Chapel, one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England, which is the burial place of 10 monarchs and the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in the world.

Worshippers are able to attend the Sunday services at St George's Chapel but the chapel is closed to general visitors on Sundays.

Queen Mary's Dolls House, an exquisite palace in miniature filled with the work of the finest artists and artisans, craftsmen and manufacturers of early 20th-century Britain.

Five feet tall, this priceless miniature palace, has cars including a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost in the garage, original works by Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling, and exquisite miniature furniture all in a perfectly preserved piece of history whose tiny rooms give visitors a glimpse into a bygone age.

The Drawings Gallery exhibition, which until the 9 June 2013 is:
'The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch'
Shows how Her Majesty The Queen has been portrayed by some of our most accomplished artists and photographers during her reign.

During the winter months an additional five rooms, known collectively as the Semi-State Rooms, are included in the visitor route.

Windsor Castle Fire

A fire, in 1992, damaged more than 100 rooms, covering an area of 7,000 square metres.

Despite soaking the crumbling structure in 4,500 tons of water, nine rooms were completely gutted and nearly 100 suffered significant damage, by what remains the worst blaze in the castle’s 900-year history.

Members of the Royal Family, including the Queen and Prince Andrew, were reported to have joined a ‘human chain’ tasked with saving great works of art from the wreckage.

A Restoration Committee, headed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, was set up to oversee the work.

The committee decided that certain principle rooms destroyed by the fire - the Grand Reception Room, the State Dining Room, and two Drawing Rooms - should be restored to their former state.

The restoration of the State Apartments brings alive how the original rooms would have looked and have arguably improved the visitor experience.

It was this this disastrous fire that led to the opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace as the Queen had agreed to fund 70% of the restoration costs.

Part of The Queen's 'Annus Horribilis': was the night Windsor Castle went up in smoke.

Windsor Castle Opening Times

Windsor Castle is a working palace and as such closes from time to time for ceremonial and State Occasions. Before planning a visit check the provisional closure dates.

Admission Times 1st March - 31st October

Daily: 09:45 - 17:15

Last admission: 16:00

Admission Times 1st November - 28th February

Daily: 09:45 - 16:15

Last Admission: 15:00

Getting to Windsor Castle

Windsor is 30 miles (50km) West of London.

By Train

The nearest train station to Windsor Castle is:
Windsor & Eton Riverside - About 10 minutes easy walk.

Trains from London depart from Paddington Station ( 30 minute journey)

By Car

Windsor is accessible via the major motorway networks of the M3, M4, M25 and M40

The journey time from London is approximately 40 minutes and Heathrow airport is about 15 minutes away.

Tours

Tours to Windsor Castle can be purchased online through Visit Britain, the official shop of the British Tourism Authority.

Order of The Garter

The Order of the Garter was founded at Windsor by Edward III in 1348, its Knights still attend a Service of Thanksgiving in the chapel of their patron, St George.

Her Majesty The Queen is Sovereign of the Order Of The Garter

Every June, the Knights of the Garter gather at Windsor Castle, where new knights take the oath and are invested with the insignia.

Today, the Order consists of The Queen, The Prince of Wales and 24 Knight Companions.