I haven’t been to Windsor castle since I was little, and it was the suggestion of a day outwith friends that finally got me back there for a visit.
I went with 3 girlfriends, and the morning got off to a great start with a cappuccino out in the sunshine whilst the guards and their band marched right past us and off to the Castle to swap places with the guards on duty there. One friend was celebrating her birthday so we were in having a great time anyway, and then this great rousing tradition really got us in the mood.
I am an admirer of the Queen ( we all were) and I think she and Prince Philip do a tremendous job, so we were looking forward to a right Royal day.
Its best to book your tickets beforehand on the website, as it only takes the arrival of a coach load of tourists to make the queue really long. And even better, the ticket for any exhibition that is on will include entry to the whole castle, with the added bonus that if you get your ticket stamped on the way out it will be valid for a year.
Where to start? Well, once inside I would first head for the Dolls House as it is the smallest exhibit and get crowded later in the day. The Dolls house is incredible- a complete down scaled royal palace with sweeping marble staircase and silver plates on the banqueting table. It was designed to showcase the talent of British craftsmen, so whether you made vacuums, cutlery, cars or furniture, you would have been desperate to produce a beautifully scaled down version of one of your masterpieces.
The State Rooms are breathtakingly ornate, but for me the magnificence stemmed from the feeling of history that exudes from every pore of the palace. The state rooms are truly magnificent – vast, gilded, stuffed full of treasures and of course paintings.
The State Banqueting Hall was being prepared for a Heads of State dinner to celebrate the Jubilee. Close your eyes and you can imagine all the Kings and Queens that have walked up the grand stairway into these rooms surrounded by the splendor of the magnificent carpets, paintings , chandeliers and furniture all on a vast scale. Yet for all this there is a great sense of charm in being able to share in all these treasures and wander through these great rooms. Maybe this is my pride in our heritage and the Jubilee speaking, and perhaps I am just getting carried away with the occasion, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything to equal these rooms.
The fire had been a terrible disaster, but the 5 year program of rebuilding and repair was very impressive.
The best bit? Well for me it has to be St Georges Chapel, where you can walk everywhere inside, past the tombs of Kings, through the choir stalls and seats for the Members of the Order of the Garter, with magnificent stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings creating a stunning backdrop.
So yes, basically this is a must visit – when you are old enough to appreciate it, without little children in tow who will drag you round at break neck speed desperate to get to the shop for an ice-cream. So, Windsor is ticked. Buckingham Palace is next on my list!