Castles and Cobblestones – My Journey to Europe, Part Eight

Europe092014 090Windsor Castle is the largest continuously occupied castle in the world, having been occupied over the last 1000 years. Currently, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip spend most weekends here. The castle compound sits at the edge of the town of Windsor, which houses most of the castle’s employees. The grounds and buildings are huge with a central round tower high above the Thames.

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The grounds are gorgeous with rich, full plantings around the tower and moat gardens like the one below. (Picture from tripadvisor.uk.)

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September was a good time to visit. The gardens were still lovely, the grass green, and the temperature warm. There is a lot to see and do at Windsor. Besides the round tower, which is also called The Keep, tourists are able to see the State Apartments. The Royal Family uses the State Apartments to entertain.

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St. George’s Hall is full of history. In 1992, a fire, believed to have started in nearby St. George’s Chapel, destroyed the Hall and over 100 other rooms. Within five years, the damaged areas were rebuilt and reopened to the public. I cannot describe the magnificence of this place. I spent the day completely overwhelmed by the art, the furnishings, the fabrics, etc. I was a long way from Illinois.

 

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St. George’s chapel was a holy experience for me. Inside, it was cool and quiet. The chapel is still used for worship today. Along the outer walls lie the sarcophagi of various Royals. This is a picture of the Dean of Wellesley’s from the St. George Archives.One can’t help but have a sense of reverence while walking around this chapel next to these ancestors.

 

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Another special exhibit and much less depressing was the Queen’s Dollhouse. I love dollhouses and have one myself – unfinished at the moment, of course. The Queen’s Dollhouse was a gift to Queen Mary in the early 1920s and is three stories tall, furnished in minute detail as an exact replica of an aristocratic Edwardian home down to real miniature toilet paper. I attempted pictures, but they all had a glare.I need a photography course in the worst way.

A day at Windsor wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the gift shop. I found just the right thing, a silver crown charm for my bracelet. I may not be royalty, but I’ve often been called “the queen.” I’ll take what I can get. 😉

Windsor is only 30 miles from London. Promise me you will take a day to visit the castle when you get to England.

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