Explore the history of Windsor, the longest occupied castle in the world

Explore the history of Windsor, the longest occupied castle in the world



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Photo: Blushrougette

Behind these public areas are spacious private grounds and suitable royal apartments for the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II spends most of her weekends here and even quarantines herself there from her husband Prince Phillip.

Like any tourist spot, the castle has souvenir shops and lots of guidebooks for you to read. Wandering around Windsor, you can’t take your eyes off the luxurious and majestic gilded portraits. The magnificent castle, once home to 39 British kings, has a history spanning 900 years since the time of William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. Centuries later, the British royal family changed their surname to “Windsor”. So in 1917 it was called the House of Windsor in 1917.

Why is Windsor Castle such an important part of British history? Let designs.vn explore the history of one of the most famous castles in the world.

Medieval foundations


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1658 drawings of the Windsor palace, by Wenceslas Hollar. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Duke of Normandy William the Conqueror swept into England in 1066, beginning the process of dominating and unifying the smaller kingdoms he passed through. William I was, as is well known, a military king. Like most medieval castles, Windsor Castle was originally built for the purpose of defense. The reason the castle was located in its current location was because it was close to the River Thames and to protect the west access to London. The military fort is made of wood and built in a y motte-and-baile style with a solid building (central building) on ​​a high mound in the middle, surrounded by a fenced courtyard. and barriers. The castle is also adjacent to a busy forest with hunting – the king sport at that time.

As a defensive building, the Normandy kings did not live at Windsor Castle until King Henry I celebrated there in 1110. By the middle of the century, the wooden structure was damaged. so, King Henry II began to change the construction material to stone. He started in the 1170s with the Round Tower, a structure that remains (then modified) to this day. The king also built other stone buildings around the courtyard, including towers and gates. The castle was still used in military use but was ruined during the British barons’ revolt against King John of the famous Magna Carta (and Robin Hood).


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1663 drawing of the Chapel of George, by Wenceslaus Hollar, published in “The Order of the Garter,” by Elias Ashmole, 1672.

(Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

By the 13th century, the castle became the residence of the royal family. Successive kings have included their own traits; King Henry III added a large tower called the Curfew Tower, while King Edward III directed the construction of the giant Normandy Gate and St. Hall. Famous George. The following work is still in use today with its original purpose: Knights of the Order of the Garter, a knights association founded by Edward III. The highlight of the hall is St. George’s Chapel, which you can visit today and is a regular venue for worship services. Many royal couples like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – have married in the chapel. You will also find the tombs of ten English kings, including Henry VIII.

The royal palace has no king


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Painting Windsor Castle from afar by author David Cox Junior, 1834. (Photo: © UK Trustees Museum [CC BY-NC-SA 4.0])

In the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, British kings used Windsor Castle for sport and security purposes. The castle was further repaired, rebuilt and expanded. King Henry VIII built a tennis court; His daughter Mary, I used a monastic remnant to add to the Lower Ward area of ​​the castle. (This is a rather ironic document that the queen briefly restored to Catholicism to bring England back to church after her father left Rome and then dissolve, destroy and sell the monastery.) During Elizabeth I’s reign, the castle became an important site for diplomatic activities.

In the mid-17th century, the authoritarian ambitions of King Stuart King Charles I led to intense tensions – politically and religiously – between the opposition factions. The Imperialists (who supported the king) and MPs (or the Roundhead, who supported the Parliament) confronted, leading to civil war in 1642. The Parliamentary forces that held London also took power. Windsor Castle control, valuable for its defensive position over the capital. Soldiers plunder valuables, while the army holds prisoners inside. The king identifies himself as a prisoner there. Charles I was the first and only British monarch to be put on trial by his subjects. He was found guilty and executed, then buried in St. George’s Chapel. For the first time, England had no king.


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Windsor castle watercolor painting by author Alfred William Hunt, 1830–1896. (Photo: TATE)

The period known as the Interregnum (between kings) lasted from the death of the king in 1649 to 1660. A republic was founded under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, the Marquis of England, Scotland and Ireland. Although not king, Cromwell still lives Windsor Castle. With the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, exiled heir Charles II returns to a ruined and ruined mansion. The new king began working to restore the luxurious Baroque mansion. With British architect Hugh May, the king created lavish living rooms and a 5km-long Road leading to a stunning view of the castle. Nowadays many tourists enter the castle this way.

Castle today


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Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice at Windsor Castle, photo by photographer Mary Steen, 1895. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

After many renovations, Windsor Castle takes on a 19th century feel. Although built in medieval times, the cremation towers and turrets along the castle walls are a Gothic inspiration added to these 1820 under King George IV. These very costly improvements also enhance the height and shape of the central Round Tower. In addition, the king also built Waterloo Hall, one of the attractions that visitors cannot miss during the trip to Windsor. Inside the ornate wooden hall hung portraits commemorating the leaders who had contributed to defeating Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo (present-day Belgium).

Queen Victoria – the second longest reigning British monarch after the current Queen – has spent most of her time at Windsor Castle, especially after the death of her dear husband, Prince Albert . She built his mausoleum on the premises to show tribute. Queen Victoria also paid special attention to the estate – planting trees and renovating exterior buildings. Many of these buildings serve the living purposes of the employees, while others are (and continue to be) royal residences that include relatives of the monarch.

In the early 20th century, King Edward VII and King George V brought modern conveniences to Windsor. Under the latter’s rule, the Royal decided to take their names from the castle, removing German nicknames in order to remind the people of their relationship with the enemy during World War I.


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View of Windsor town and Round Tower. (Photo: Aurelien Guichard – Wikimedia Commons)

Notably, Windsor Castle still existed after World War II. Valuable objects have been removed or hidden and windows are blackened in the event of an air strike. Like many British children in London, Princess Elizabeth and Margaret were sent to a rural shelter – in their case at Windsor. Their parents were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the beloved Empress Dowager for refusing to leave London during the Battle of Blitz’s British air strikes carried out by Nazi Germany during World War II, although it is believed that they spent many nights at Windsor with their children just to be safe. The castle existed after the war, and later became the favored residence of the current Queen. The Queen maintains private apartments, holds knighthoods and horse shows on site. Despite avoiding German bombs, the catastrophic 1992 fire that raged in 15 hours destroyed nearly a fifth of the castle. The repairs cost millions of pounds but are fortunately financed at no additional tax.

Today, Windsor Castle is open to visitors from home and abroad. The Round Tower is even open to allow visitors to reach the top for a view. Currently, the building still holds the Royal Archives, visitors will find treasures throughout the castle; It feels like it’s just traveling back in time.

Can’t wait to visit Windsor Castle? Let’s go back in time with designs.vn, check out the following digital collection:

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