10 Interesting Facts About the Windsor Castle in England

In a cozy corner of England in Berkshire sits Windsor Castle, sprawled over a whopping 13 acres! That makes it the world's biggest and oldest inhabited fortress, still standing strong after all these years. It was also the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II from 2011 to 2022. Who could forget the incredible royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018? It was a truly spectacular event at the stunning St George's Chapel within the castle walls - a momentous occasion that captured the world's attention!

Today, Windsor Castle is one of the top things to do in Windsor. Keep reading to dig up some fascinating facts about this royal residence!

Windsor Castle facts

Windsor castle burials

1. The castle has witnessed royal burials

Believe it or not, more than 10 monarchs 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 him to be buried without “pomp or noise”. His body rests in Henry VIII’s burial vault in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Other royals buried there include Edward IV, Henry VIII (with his wife Jane Seymour), and even the late Queen Elizabeth II herself.

Windsor Castle Queen Mary’s dollhouse

2. Queen Mary’s Doll's House - a mini-mansion

Imagine a dollhouse fit for royalty! That's exactly what Queen Mary’s Doll’s House is — the world's biggest and most incredible miniature mansion. Built in the 1920s by architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, this dollhouse has running water, electricity, working toilets, elevators, and even a 1,200-piece wine cellar stocked with wine and beer. This mini-mansion has its own library with real books by authors like Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

windsor castle london

3. The royal family got their name from the castle

Believe it or not, the royal family’s former name used to be a bit of a mouthful — Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. During World War I, having a German last name was problematic. That's why, in 1919, the royal family adopted the name Windsor, inspired by the castle itself. Windsor actually comes from an old English word ‘Windlesoren’ which means ‘winch by the riverbank’.

windsor castle history

4. The castle has successfully overcome a few attacks

Built as a fortress first and foremost, this castle has withstood its fair share of attacks. Back in the 11th century, the guards were on high alert at all times, ready to rain down boiling oil and heavy stones on any intruders! History buffs will love this fact: During the Barons' War in the 1200s, the castle held strong for a whole two months under siege!

Windsor castle inside

5. Queen Elizabeth II slept in the dungeon during World War II

Unlike many other buildings in Britain that got bombed during the war, Windsor Castle remained strangely untouched because Adolf Hitler wanted to occupy this space as his British home. Knowing this, the royals hid at Windsor instead of Buckingham Palace. The young princesses, including the future Queen Elizabeth II, had to sleep in the dungeon reinforced for safety.

windsor castle fact

6. Home to James Holman, 19th-century blind traveler

Windsor Castle has had interesting residents over the years. One such resident was James Holman, a 19th-century explorer who could put Marco Polo, James Cook, and Ibn Battuta to shame, armed only with his iron-tipped walking stick and his experience in the army. This blind traveler explored the world solo, without ever seeing it. When he wasn't busy conquering continents, Holman lived at Windsor Castle as a Knight of Windsor. 

changing of the guard windsor castle

7. Windsor Castle hosts Changing the Guards ceremonies

Just like Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle puts on a show with its very own Changing the Guards ceremony. This signifies a new group of soldiers taking over the responsibilities of guarding the palace. The ceremony takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 11am, so be sure to snag a spot if you're visiting Windsor Castle. It's an iconic British tradition, and you won't want to miss it!

windsor castle kitchen

8. It has the oldest kitchen in the United Kingdom

Windsor Castle has the oldest working kitchen in the entire UK, whipping up meals since the 1360s, under King Edward III's reign. That's over 750 years of feeding hungry royals and their guests! Rumour has it Prince Albert himself brought in the first-ever gas range here in 1890. The clocks were always set five minutes ahead so that Queen Elizabeth II was always served on time.

windsor castle facts

9. Home to Canaletto works

Windsor Castle is like a giant art museum on top of being a royal residence! In addition to the Royal Library, there are a whole bunch of famous paintings hanging on their walls, including An Old Woman by Rembrandt (c. 1609 CE), Holy Family with Saint Francis by Rubens (c. 1630 CE), and Charles I in Three Positions by Van Dyck (c. 1635 CE). The castle also has a bunch of paintings by Canaletto, a famous artist known for his incredibly detailed views of cities. 

windsor castle facts

10. Victim of a 15-hour-long fire

Back in November 1992, a massive fire ripped through the castle for 15 hours! It started in a private chapel and spread, damaging the northeast corner of the Upper Ward. The fire destroyed the Grand Reception Room and even Saint George's Hall. Thanks to a ton of repairs, they were able to restore it to its former glory. 

Windsor Castle tickets

Windsor Castle Entry Tickets
2 hr. 30 min.
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Half-Day Tour to Windsor Castle from London
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5 hr. 30 min.
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From London: Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath & Roman Baths Day Trip
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11 hr. - 11 hr. 30 min.
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Guided Tour
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Windsor Castle Guided Tour with Afternoon Tea from London
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Mobile Ticket
6 hr.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Windsor Castle facts

How big is Windsor Castle?

The castle occupies 484,000 square feet on 13 acres (5 hectares) of ground above the south bank of the River Thames. It has over 1,000 rooms, including 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.

How long did it take to build Windsor Castle?

The original wooden castle was built around 1070 and took over 16 years to complete. However, there were several rounds of expansions and renovations by succeeding rulers over the years, with the last round of renovations after the fire in 1992.

Is Windsor Castle older than Buckingham Palace?

Buckingham Palace is just over 300 years old after it was built in 1703. Windsor Castle, on the other hand, is over 900 years old! The original wooden castle was built by William the Conqueror, sometime in 1070, following the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Who was the first king to live in Windsor Castle?

Although Windsor Castle was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1070, the first king to use Windsor Castle as a residence was Henry I, who celebrated Whitsuntide in 1110 during a period of heightened insecurity. His marriage to Adela, the daughter of Godfrey of Louvain, took place in the castle in 1121.

How many monarchs have lived at Windsor Castle?

Windsor Castle has been home to 39 monarchs since it was built in the 11th century. Today, it is the oldest and the largest occupied castle in the world. Windsor Castle was Elizabeth II's favorite weekend retreat for most of her reign and was her primary residence from 2011 until her death.

Who currently lives at Windsor Castle?

Currently, no royal lives at Windsor Castle, and it is only occupied by staff. After Queen Elizabeth II's passing, King Charles inherited the castle. However, the King and Queen Camilla reside at Clarence House in London.

How much are Windsor Castle tickets?

The tickets range from £30 to £159, depending on the type of experience you purchase. Standard entry tickets cost £30. A day trip from London to Windsor Castle, although more expensive, saves you the trouble of arranging transport to and from the castle. You can also choose tickets which include nearby attractions like Stonehenge or a guided tour of Bath or Oxford.