One of the largest symbols of the monarchy, Windsor Castle has been a feature of the London area since long before the city was anywhere close to the castle. Like many castles dotting the English landscape, the Normans constructed it after their conquest of the country in 1066. It has been expanded many times since and today remains a home of the Sovereign, currently King Charles III (though he prefers Clarence House as his personal residence). It’s also a major tourist attraction when the monarch is not in residence. Certainly, so much history and importance to Britain means that Windsor Castle has plenty of interesting facts that we will relate to you.
Juuuuust a Bit Outside
While Windsor Castle is often associated with London, it’s actually not located in the city. In fact, it’s not even part of Greater London. The castle is found in the historic market town of Windsor, just a couple miles outside of the M25, which forms much of the border for the London metro area. Of course, the castle’s close proximity makes it easy for London tourists to go visit, so there’s no reason not to get a ticket.
The Long Road Home
The driveway for Windsor Castle is 2.65 miles long. That’s a very good reason why it’s named “The Long Walk”.
Windsor Castle has over 150 resident staff members (and 400 total staff) to help with its upkeep. This includes expected positions such as maids, chefs, and butlers, but also some pretty unique jobs you won’t find in most places. For example, Windsor Castle employs a resident “fendersmith” whose job is to keep up the castle’s 300 fireplaces. The castle’s horologist, meanwhile, is responsible for making sure its 379 clocks are all running perfectly.
A Pandemic Refuge
Windsor Castle has long been a place for monarchs to retire during pandemics of all kinds. Queen Elizabeth I used it to wait out a Bubonic Plague pandemic and threatened uninvited visitors with hanging. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip also used the castle to self-isolate.
It’s Been a Long, Long Time
Windsor Castle is actually the longest-occupied palace in Europe, having been the home of the Sovereign since the end of the 11th Century. King William I built it as a fortress, but his son, King Henry I, turned it into a royal residence. Over 40 monarchs have called it home ever since, with King Charles being the most recent occupant. It should also be noted that its kitchen is the oldest working one in the country and certainly sees a lot of work during state dinners.
The Resting Place of Kings
St. George’s Chapel is the final burial place for eleven different monarchs. King Edward IV, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Charles I, George III, George IV, William IV, Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II are all buried here.
Best Dollhouse Ever
Queen Mary’s Dollhouse can still be seen at the castle and is 1:12 scale (meaning that 1 inch = 1 foot). It has over 170 miniature books, electric lighting, working plumbing, and a fully stocked wine cellar with *real* wine. It also has plenty of artwork that real artists crafted to go inside it, making it truly one of the most unique dollhouses ever constructed.
A Vineyard’s Worth
And speaking of wine, the castle’s wine cellar houses over 18,000 bottles.
Which Came First?
Some people might think the family surname, Windsor, comes from the castle, but it’s actually the other way around. King George V changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor back during World War I to symbolically set him apart from his German cousin, Keiser Wilhelm I. Additionally, during World War II, Adolf Hitler suppossedly told his air force, the Luftwaffe, to avoid damaging the castle as he wanted to use it for his personal residence if Germany won the war.
A Large Guest Log
Windsor Castle being open to visitors makes it a very popular tourist attraction. Over 1 million people visit it every year.