9 Fascinating Facts about Windsor
With the spotlight shining on Windsor this weekend due to the King’s coronation, what do you know about this small English town with a dazzling history and international prestige? As the home of the royal family; the Royal Ascot; Eton Dorney Lake (official venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Game); and, of course, the annual Royal Windsor Triathlon, Windsor is a fascinating place with a rich history and stunning scenery. So get ready to learn some incredible facts about this enchanting town; the official ‘after-party’ destination following the King’s coronation!
Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world
Windsor Castle was first used as a place of residence by Henry I and has remained a firm favourite with monarchs ever since. Indeed, the castle is spread over the equivalent of 269 tennis courts and it operates more like a small town than a palace; the castle is home to 150 resident staff (there are 400 staff in total) with some incredibly unique job descriptions. You’ll find flag sergeants, fendersmiths, and horologists on some Windsor staff’s CVs!
2. It has a rich history
The castle is also nearly 1,000 years old, having been founded by William the Conquer in 1066. It was originally intended to establish William’s power, as one of nine defensive castles in a ring around London. Since then, it has been the official residence 40 of British monarchs and has witnessed changing power dynamics; bloody wars; plague; pageantry and processions; and periods of mourning.
3. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place daily at Windsor Castle
The Changing of the Guard doesn’t just happen at Buckingham Palace… The quintessentially British ceremony also takes place outside Windsor Castle daily from April to July, and every other day from August to March. The event is a colourful display of pageantry, featuring the Queen’s Guard, the Household Cavalry, and a military band.
4. There are A LOT of clocks
Windsor Castle has over 450 clocks (helping the estate run like… clockwork, we presume!) When British Summer Time (BST) begins, it takes The King’s horologist (clock maker) 16 hours to move every clock forward by one hour. At the end of BST it takes him 18 hours to adjust them back one hour (as he actually has to move them forward 11 hours!). Another fun fact is that the clocks in the Great Kitchen are set five minutes fast, so that food is never served late; one would not be amused by a lukewarm supper!
5. It contains a breath-taking dolls house…
Windsor Castle is home to the world’s largest and most beauty ‘toy’ in the world: Queen Mary’s dolls house. Built between 1921 and 1924 by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, it includes tiny models from over 1,500 of world-class artists, craftsmen and manufacturers. The dolls house is a perfect replica of an aristocratic Edwardian household, with a dazzlingly intricate library and even a wine cellar with dinky bottles containing real wine!
6. It was rumoured that Hitler planned to live there
Once he had invaded and conquered Britain, people believed that Hitler planned to keep Windsor Castle as one of his homes. This meant that Windsor Castle and Windsor were never targeted during the war and many of the staff at Buckingham Palace were relocated there. However, during air raids, the royal family took no chances, and a young Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret would sleep in the castle’s dungeons.
7. Windsor town is a popular filming location
This one’s for the movie buffs. Windsor has been a popular filming location for many years, thanks to its beautiful architecture and picturesque scenery. Some of the most famous films shot in the town include the Harry Potter series, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and the James Bond film Skyfall.
8. Cyclists go there for… buns?
Apart from generally flat cycling routes in and around Windsor, cyclists are drawn to Windsor for one very important thing: buns. Known as the ‘bun run’ to two-wheeled enthusiasts, cyclists flock to Windsor for a pit stop at a famous cafe called the Cinnamon Cafe where, you guessed it, they serve the most amazing cinnamon buns! The cafe even have their own cycling kit for their fans, in addition to a huge bike rack to accommodate all of their hungry customers.
9. The long and short of it…
Did you know that the iconic Long Walk – leading up to the castle and a section of the Royal Windsor Triathlon course – is nearly 3 miles long? That’s an incredibly long driveway! Conversely, just a couple of miles away in the town centre, there is Britain’s shortest street: Queen Charlotte Street in Windsor. It’s recorded as being 51 feet and 10 inches long – just 15.8 metres.