Housed in Berkshire, England, Windsor Castle covers 5.2 hectares of land and is the largest inhabited fortress in the world. The castle, which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, is also home to the Royal Library and some famous fine art. These include An Old Woman by Rembrandt (c. 1609 CE), Holy Family with Saint Francis by Rubens (c. 1630 CE), Charles I in Three Positions by Van Dyck (c. 1635 CE), as well as numerous works done by Canaletto.
In November 1992, tragedy struck when a fire ignited in the private Chapel which raged for 15 hours straight spreading to destroy the north-east corner of the Upper Ward ruining the Grand Reception Room and Saint George’s Hall. After extensive repairs and renovation, the castle was restored to its original stature. Windsor Castle came into the spotlight once again in May 2018 when St. Georges’ Chapel hosted the live telecast wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Today, Windsor Castle is one of the top things to do in Windsor. Read on for some interesting Windsor Castle facts.
Believe it or not, about ten kings have been buried in Windsor Castle! The court convicted Charles I of treason in 1649, and he was beheaded at Whitehall Palace. The Parliament ordered for him to be buried without “pomp or noise”. His body rests in Henry VIII’s burial vault situated in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Other buried Royal family members include Edward IV, Henry VI, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, and George V and Queen Mary.
Before 1919, the Royal family’s last name was “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.” Considering that the association with a German surname would give a bad name to the British during World War I, the Royal family's last name was changed to Windsor. The word originated from the Old English Windlesoren, which means 'winch by the riverbank'.
Windsor Castle is a fortress before anything else and has shown to be a strong one over time. Back in the day, guards on standby were alert at all times and would get rid of any intruders by using boiling oil and heavy stone. Records show during the 1200s Barons War the castle successfully fought a two-month siege.
Windsor Castle was never attacked during World War II because Adolf Hitler wanted to occupy this space as his British home. Knowing this, the Royals took advantage of the situation by secretly hiding within the castle. The girls, including the future Queen Elizabeth II used to occasionally sleep in the dungeon with reinforced bedrooms, where all windows were blacked out and chandeliers removed.
James Holman was considered to be the greatest traveller in the 19th century beating the distance covered by Marco Polo, James Cook, and Ibn Battuta. Holman stood out from these veteran travellers by exploring countries blind and alone. When he was taking a break from globetrotting, Holman lived at the castle serving as an official Knight of Windsor.
Windsor Castle has the oldest working kitchen in the country, serving dishes since the days of Edward III around 1360. The Great Kitchen has been feeding the Royals along with hundreds of their guests for over 750 years now. It is believed that Prince Albert brought in the first gas range in 1890.