6 stopovers for Royal Wedding Visitors


The Royal Wedding date is set and, appropriately enough given that Harry and Meghan announced just before Christmas, there is very little room left in the inn. Hotel rooms in Windsor are at a premium as the world gets ready to converge on St. George's Chapel on May 19th 2018. That doesn't mean a trip to Windsor is out of the question. The town is well connected by train so if you're hoping to hop across for a royal wedding holiday, then here are six places around an hour or less away from Windsor by rail. They may well be easier to find accommodation in right now and they also have royal links of their own. Make it a truly regal holiday and get busy with these stopovers for Royal Wedding Visitors.....


Reading, Berkshire

To Windsor, by train...Reading is served by the Great Western Railway and trains take about 30 minutes to Windsor with services twice an hour at weekends. The trains stop at Windsor and Eton Central, an easy enough walk from the castle. Day returns, bought in advance, are around 11 pounds for an adult. 

Royal links....it doesn't have quite the romantic ring of palaces or castles of times past, but Reading is the birthplace of a future queen. Catherine Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, was born at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on January 9th 1982. The area also has longer royal associations. Henry I founded an Abbey there in 1121. He was buried within its precincts in 1136, having died in France the year before. One of the most important royal weddings ever also took place at Reading Abbey. John of Gaunt married Blanche of Lancaster there in 1359 - their union would bring the huge Lancastrian fortune into the Royal Family while their son went on to claim the crown as Henry IV. Their wedding date was  May 19th. Reading Abbey was destroyed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII but in the 18th century, Reading Town Hall was built very close to the site. It's now the area's museum and contains an exhibition on the abbey as well as the UK's only copy of the Bayeux Tapestry. That's one in the eye for those who say Reading isn't really royal.

Where to stay...Reading is a major city with plenty of chains (including ibis, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Best Western) as well as lots of smaller hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and apartments.



Richmond, London


To Windsor, by train This route will take your from suburban London to leafy Berkshire in 35 minutes. You'll be arriving at Windsor and Eton Riverside and there are two services an hour. Right now, a ticket will cost you 8.90 return and you'll be travelling with South West Railways.

Royal links....Richmond was a country retreat for many a monarch when a well worn royal path took them to a manor house at Sheen. Medieval monarchs including Edward II and Edward III loved to hang out there but Richard II had it destroyed. A new house was built but it was the first Tudor, Henry VII, who really ramped up the royal stakes. He built a Palace at the spot and change its moniker, namiong it after his earldom of Richmond. The whole area absorbed that new name while the Tudors made it a regal go to - Elizabeth I spent much of her later life here and died at the Palace in 1603.  The palace fell out of favour and into disrepair as the area around it grew into a little town. The huge swathes of green park remained popular with royals and George II had Richmond Lodge built there. That became a very popular royal residence and was the birthplace of the future Edward VIII and Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia. It was also, briefly, home to the future George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later Queen Mother. Take that and rock it royally.

Where to stay....lots of options here with plenty of smaller hotels, B&Bs and guest houses in and around Richmond itself. Bear in mind it's also on the Underground so other parts of south west London are a quick tube ride away from the main line station. 


Twickenham, London

To Windsor, by train....it's 29 minutes from Twickenham to Windsor and Eton Riverside station with South Western Railway. Tickets are 7.70 return as of today. Whitton, a suburb of Twickenham, is another stop on the line with the train from here taking 26 minutes to Windsor and costing 7 return.

Royal links....it's famous now as a home to rugby and we all know how much Prince Harry loves that sport. In recent months he's been spotted at Twickenham Stadium several times watching England play and popped in on a training session earlier this year, too. But Twickenham's royal links go back far further. It's home to several grand mansions (which means plenty of other sight seeing opportunities, too). Marble Hill was built by a former mistress of King George II, Henrietta Howard, who commissioned the home after parting with her royal paramour. George II's great grandson, the future George IV, used Marble Hill while Prince of Wales for assignations with his mistress, Maria Fitzherbert. York House was once the home of the Earl of Clarendon, the grandfather of Queen Mary II and Queen Anne. Kneller Hall can be found in nearby Whitton although you're only looking at this one from the outside as it's presently the home of the Royal Military School of Music. The hall was originally built by court painter, Sir Godfrey Kneller, whose wife's granddad was one of those who signed Charles I's death warrant. 

Staying there...there's a Premier Inn and a Travelodge as well as several smaller, private hotels. Booking.com still has availability for May 2018.



Oxford 



To Windsor, by train Oxford is around an hour away from Windsor by train with two services an hour. You'll be hopping on board a Great Western Railways service and a day return is 17.50 for an adult. Services stop at Windsor and Eton Central .

Royal links....It's the birth place of King Richard I and his bad little brother, King John, who were both welcomed into the world at Beaumont Palace, long since lost to the ravages of time. Not that you will want for history in Oxford. The Empress Matilda fled here when her fight for the throne, which so nearly made her England's first queen regnant. came undone in 1141. The world famous University was granted a royal charter in the reign of Henry III while several of its colleges had regal founders.  Plenty of royals have spent time studying in Oxford, too, among them King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, King Olav and King Harald of Norway.

Where to stay....a major city with all kinds of big chain hotels in and around the city centre. Even staying just outside the dreaming spires won't leave you too stranded as there is plenty of park and ride going on in Oxford. Smaller hotels abound, too.



Slough

To Windsor, by train Slough is just six minutes away from Windsor by train and is served by Great Western Railways. This is a really cheap option with an adult day return just 2.80 and at least three services an hour.

Royal links...come friendly bombs, and fall on Slough....the Poet Laureate, John Betjamin, was in mournful mood when he wrote those famous lines but they betray the area's lack of real vintage. Slough is a modern town, brought to life in the 20th century. But its road to expansion was helped by the establishment of the railways and earlier in 2017, the Queen recreated the first ever royal train journey by hopping on board the service from Slough to Paddington.  Cippenham is a suburb of Slough now but in the 13th century it was a spot so idyllic that King Henry III built a palace here. That's long gone but you can see the remains of its moat. Queen Victoria also donated money to the building of St. Mary's Parish Church in the Slough suburb of Upton-cum-Chaveley.

Staying here...OK, its royal connections are slim but Slough is big with plenty of places to lay your head. It's got a Travelodge, a Holiday Inn and a Copthorne as well as smaller hotels. It's also close to Heathrow which has all kinds of big chain hotels on site as well as fast connections to central London for some other royal sight seeing after the wedding. Booking.com is still showing availability for May 2018.


Staines-upon-Thames

To Windsor, by train...just 14 minutes to Windsor and Eton Riverside, there are two services an hour with South Western Railway from Staines. Day returns are 4.60 for an adult.

Royal links.....Staines was where the barons met ahead of confronting King John in Runnymede before the signing of the Magna Carta. The church of St. Mary also contains a stained glass window given by Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Victoria, when she was Crown Princess of Prussia. She and her husband donated it in memory of their children's governess, Augusta Maria Byng, who was born in the area. It's not exactly a regal roll call but it's cheap and quick for a royal wedding connection.

Staying there...Staines has a Mercure and a Travelodge as well as several smaller hotels. Tripadvisor is still showing availability for May 2018.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons and Clarence House Instagram

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