Windsor Castle

History of the Windsor Castle

Castles often have wonder, intriguing stories, and a little bit of magic attached to them, and Windsor Castle is no less. The oldest and longest-inhabited royal castle in the world has plenty of historic attractions, such as a quirky dollhouse with the most intricate details, and awe-inspiring exhibitions. It is also home to Queen Elizabeth II on weekends.

The Windsor Castle was built over 1000 years ago and has since been continually enhanced to create a breath-taking experience for all visitors. Lavish state apartments, the Waterloo Chamber, St. George’s Chapel and the Round Tower all make Windsor Castle a top attraction in Windsor. Read on to learn more about the history of Windsor Castle.

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windsor castle history
  • Constructed in: 11th century by William the Conqueror. 
  • Owned by: The Crown (Currently, Queen Elizabeth II).
  • Timings: 10 AM - 5:15 PM, Thursday to Monday. Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
    Learn more about Windsor Castle timings.
  • Location: Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ.
    Get directions.
  • Getting there: Windsor is connected to the rest of the country via roads and railways.
    Learn more about how to get to Windsor Castle.
  • Distance from London: 40 kilometers.
  • Number of visitors per year: 1.65 million as of 2018/19.
Windsor Castle Facts

Windsor Castle History

William the Conqueror started the construction of Windsor Castle in 1070 as part of his plan to have a ring of defensive castles around London. The castle took 12 years to complete and soon became a favorite among royals due to its proximity to London and as a former Saxon hunting ground. 

Henry I had royal apartments built at the castle in 1110, and his successor, Henry II, added two more royal apartments and also rebuilt the keep into the Round Tower we know today.

Edward III was the first to make Windsor Castle the center of his court in 1357 and spent large amounts of money renovating the castle in Gothic style. The oldest working kitchen in England is at Windsor. It started by Edward III during his reign in the 14th century and has since served 32 monarchs. 

The famous St. George’s Chapel was commissioned by Edward IV in 1475 and took half a century to complete. Following the end of the war in 1651, Charles II began restoration work to return the castle to its former glory in 1660. Around 200 years later, George IV remodeled the exterior to what it is today.

The castle became the center of the British Court under Queen Victoria’s reign and flourished until the deadly Windsor Castle fire in 1992. It required a £37 million restoration, which was completed in 1997.

Today, Windsor Castle stands tall as a significant symbol of the British monarchy and is the preferred weekend home of Her Majesty The Queen.

Windsor Castle Facts

  • The Castle is spread out over a whopping 13 acres and features over 1000 rooms.
  • The Castle housed the entire royal family during World War II because it was never bombed. Reportedly, this is because Adolf Hitler wanted to make it his British home after the war.
  • Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is amongst the most elaborate in the world and even features a wine cellar with over 1200 miniature bottles, running electricity, and a library featuring original stories from Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • The royal family adopted their last name from the castle. Their original last name was “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha” before they changed it to Windsor during World War I.
  • St. George's Chapel is a popular venue for royal weddings. The latest wedding at the chapel was of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
  • Queen Elizabeth had a Corgi breeder program for nearly 70 years. Windsor Castle was home to this program. Hundreds of puppies were born at the castle’s kennel before the program was closed in 2015.
  • It is the longest and largest-inhabited castle in the world with over 500 people currently living and working at the castle.

All Your Questions About Windsor Castle History Answered

Is Windsor Castle the oldest castle in the UK?

No. While the Windsor Castle isn't the oldest castle in the country, it is the oldest occupied castle in the country — and the world.

Who was the first monarch to live in the castle?

While it was William the Conqueror who made the castle, it was actually Henry I who was the first monarch to live in it.

How many monarchs are buried at the castle?

Ten monarchs have been laid to rest at the Windsor Castle: Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII, Charles I, George III, George IV, William IV, Edward VII, George V, and George VI.

How do I know if the Queen is at Windsor Castle?

If the Queen is in the castle, you will see the Royal Standard flag on the Round Tower. The rest of the time, the Union Jack is placed there.

Can I take a day trip from Windsor to London?

Yes. Windsor is just an hour or so away from London, making it a great day trip destination.