Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen. This Royal Residence is located in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. This Royal home and fortress was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. The castle has been used by monarchs since the time of Henry I with a rich history spanning 1000 years. The Castle is large with an area covering 1 hectares (13 acres) and contains magnificent state apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection, St George’s Chapel (one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs), Queen Mary’s Dolls House, a masterpiece in miniature and the Drawings Gallery featuring an exhibition.
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The original castle was designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London and to oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, Windsor Castle was built as a “motte and bailey” with three wards surrounding a central mound. A fire in 1992 prompted the reconstruction work involving a sequence of phased building projects which resulted in the present day castle. It is in essence a combination of Georgian and Victorian design based on a medieval structure with Gothic features reinvented in a modern style. Sir William Whitfield has pointed to Windsor Castle’s architecture as having “a certain fictive quality” with the Picturesque and Gothic design generating a sense of theatrical performance.
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All throughout history the castle has been favored by monarchs using it for various uses. To date The Queen the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties. Every year The Queen takes up official residence in Windsor Castle for a month (March to April) and this is known as the Easter Court. During these period The Queen hosts occasional dine and sleeps events for guests including politicians and public figures. Her Majesty is also in residence for a week in June when she attends the service of the Order of the Garter and the Royal Ascot race meeting.
New Knights of the Garter are invested by Her Majesty in the Garter Throne Room and on the walls are portraits of monarchs in their Garter Robes starting from George I to the present Queen whose portrait was done by Sir James Gunn in 1954.
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Windsor Castle is often used by Her Majesty to host State Visits from overseas monarchs and presidents. The traditional State Banquet is held in St. George’s Hall with a table seating of up to 160 guests. The St. George’s Chapel is a Royal Peculiar where it is not subject to a bishop or archbishop but owes allegiance directly to the Sovereign. It remains an active center for worship with daily services open to all.
Various Royal weddings and funerals have been celebrated in St. George’s Chapel and various departments of the Royal Household are based at Windsor Castle. The Royal Archives and the Royal Photograph Collection are housed in the ancient Round Tower. The Print Room and Royal Library house precious prints, manuscripts, books and drawings.
Windsor Castle East Terrace Gardens-
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Windsor Castle is also a very busy visitor attraction with many parts of the Castle open to the public including the precincts, the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s famous dolls’ house, St. George’s Chapel and the Albert Memorial Chapel. It would be a good time to visit when the Queen is in official residence for the change of the Guard provides quite a colorful spectacle.
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