When I researched the proposed WI trip to Windsor Castle, Google reckoned that the eighty miles should take an hour and thirty-three minutes. In fact our coach took one hour and fifty minutes – because of the stop to pick up passengers. Anyway, we arrived just in time for the parade at the end of The Trooping of the Colour. The soldiers were attired in their grey winter greatcoats which perfectly matched the grey December day.
The castle dominates the town with its impregnable stone walls and elevated position. To quote the official website, “Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. It is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen, whose standard flies from the Round Tower when she is in residence.” (See here). So it was William the Conqueror who chose the site for Windsor Castle, overlooking the River Thames and on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground. He needed the castle to protect the western approach to London, but easy access from the city and proximity to a royal hunting forest reinforced its suitability as a royal residence. Building began around 1070, and the Castle was completed sixteen years later.
With the Royal Wedding planned for next year we simply had to inspect St Georges Chapel. This must be the most ornate church building that I have ever been in. Every inch of woodwork is elaborately carved and the vaulted fan ceilings are amazing. The sculptures on the wall behind the altar are picked out in gold leaf. I shall watch with interest on television next year to see what flowers are chosen to decorate the Chapel and complement the building’s interior.
Next we headed for Queen Mary’s Doll house. I have always been fascinated by miniatures, so I gazed in awe at the teeny items, marvelling in their detail. The house is enclosed in some sort of protective atmosphere inside a glass cube – which is probably the reason that it does not get dusty.
After viewing the house we passed a display containing two three foot Jumeau china dolls plus a trunk full of their clothes presented to King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth in 1938 from the “Children of France.” Judging by the excellent condition of the clothes I suspect that the two dolls were “Sunday dolls” which the two little princesses were only allowed to hold and admire – but not play with.
The State Rooms were sumptuous, furnished with pieces from history. In spite of the Christmas decorations the rooms felt cold and unlived in. My friend and I wondered what the Royal Family’s own rooms looked like – very different, I’m sure.
By now we were in need of a sit-down and some sustenance so we wandered down into the town. The town centre is much like any town BUT the Railway Station has been renovated and houses an indoor market of boutique-style stalls. We spent ages at the stall-holder who imports wooden ornaments and figures directly from Bali. The tree decorations were selling well at £1 each and I watched the customer in front of me buy a trio of different sized Santas for £10.
We had to be back at the coach for five o’clock, by which time most of us were all shopped out and ready for home.