weekend away - Royal Windsor
Written by Anne Nicholls
The town of Windsor simply oozes royal history. But while Windsor Castle – the Queen’s weekend residence – is the big attraction, there’s lots more to see and do.
The genteel town of Windsor, just 35km from London, has more royal connections than anywhere else in the UK. Windsor Castle, which dominates the town, claims to be the largest inhabited castle in the world and has been home to Britain’s monarchs for more than 900 years. Forty kings and queens have lived there, and ten (including Henry VIII and Charles I) are buried in St George’s Chapel within the grounds.
But there is much more to Windsor than the castle, splendid as it is. The town has fine architecture, good restaurants and quaint cobbled streets. The Royalty and Empire audio-visual show at the old railway station is certainly worth a visit.
Beyond the town, there are some pleasant walks. The Thames Path crosses the river on Windsor Bridge, continuing on the opposite side where there are great views of the castle. Take a short detour to Eton College, where Princes William and Harry were educated, along with 19 prime ministers including David Cameron. The walk continues alongside tranquil meadows to the village of Bray and beyond. An alternative – and a relaxing way to spend a few hours – is to take a boat trip down the Thames.
To experience an authentic Gothic-style English country house hotel, visit the Oakley Court Hotel, 5km outside Windsor on the banks of the Thames opposite Eton Dorney lake, where the rowing events in the 2012 Olympics took place. Take typical English afternoon tea in the Edwardian drawing room, follow the nature trail, or hire a boat during the spring and summer months.
Windsor Castle’s state apartments are open to the public most days of the year. Allow two to three hours for the visit. Watch the changing of the guard around 11am daily from April to July (except Sundays). Admission US$19 for adults. Check prices and times at windsor.gov.uk.