Saturday, 10 December 2016

Palaces in the Snow: Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle in the snow 
(photo Craig via Flickr)

Castle, palace, palace, castle. Let's not split hairs. The royal residences of modern times might have the more romantic title of palace but they follow in the direct footsteps of the castles that kept rulers of yore safe and warm and told everyone for miles around who was in charge. Windsor Castle has a long history and many of its winters have seen it cloaked in snow.

Windsor Castle is the longest occupied royal residence in Europe. Its centuries of dominance began under  William the Conqueror who needed a fortification in this part of what is now Berkshire to secure the western approach to London. His son, Henry I, was the first to make it a regal home while his grandson, Henry II, added the first set of royal apartments.  It has been added to and restored throughout Britain's long royal history and its epic spread contains the marks of many of the country's monarchs.

(photo Craig via Flickr)

Set in over 13 acres of land in Berkshire, at its heart is the Round Tower, originally built in wood and then reconstructed in stone in 1170. Edward III later spent a fortune on turning it into a gothic masterpiece while Edward IV carried out modernisation works as the Wars of the Roses subsided into peace in the second part of his reign.

Elizabeth I and Charles II both commissioned restoration projects at the Castle but it was the House of Hanover which would transform Windsor. George III began a programme of rebuilding which was continued by his son, George IV, who was responsible for adding more gothic elements to the outward appearance of Windsor and for expanding and improving the State Apartments inside.  The fire of 1992 led to extensive restoration work which took five years to complete. The ancient and modern marvel that is Windsor remains as imposing as William the Conqueror meant it to be and draped in snow, it is a work of wonder.

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