Windsor Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Windsor Castle

Windsor, Eton, England, United Kingdom

Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world and was the official home of Queen Elizabeth II.

Amy Irvine

09 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Mistevlad/

About Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – home to over 900 years of royal history. Covering an area of approximately 13 acres, it contains a wide range of interesting features. These include the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s dolls house and the beautiful St George’s Chapel. It is also the burial place of 11 monarchs, including Henry VIII and his beloved wife (the one who gave him a son), Jane Seymour, as well as Queen Elizabeth II.

History of Windsor Castle

The building of Windsor Castle began in the 1070s at the behest of William the Conqueror, with the intent that it was to guard the western approach to London. Since that time, the structure of Windsor Castle has been embellished by many of the monarchs of England and the UK, and has been the home of 39 monarchs.

Notably, in the 1170s, Henry II (the first Plantagenet) rebuilt most of the castle in stone instead of wood, including the round tower and the upper ward, where most monarchs have had their private apartments since the 14th century.

In the mid-14th century, Edward III, who had recently founded the Order of the Garter, built St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle for the use of the knights of this Order. A further addition, St George’s Chapel, was started by Edward IV, but was not finished until the time of Henry VIII. It is here that the ten British monarchs lie buried.

During the English Civil War, Windsor Castle served as a prison and it was to St George’s Chapel that the body of Charles I was brought for burial after his execution. Charles II and George IV (formerly the Prince Regent) made further contributions to the architecture of Windsor Castle in the 1650s and 1820s respectively.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert loved Windsor castle, and Prince Albert died there of typhoid in 1861. Queen Victoria built a mausoleum in the grounds of the castle, Frogmore, where Albert and later Victoria herself were buried.

In the Second World War, Windsor Castle became home to Queen, Elizabeth II, and her family, George VI, the (future) Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

Windsor Castle today

Windsor Castle remained a favourite home of Queen Elizabeth, and she spent most of her weekends there. There was a huge fire at the castle in November 1992 which took 15 hours and 1.5 million gallons of water to extinguish. It began in the Private Chapel and soon spread to affect approximately one fifth of the castle. It took 5 years to restore the castle, and was finished in late 1997.

In May 2018, St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle hosted the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September 2022. Following her state funeral in Westminster Abbey, her coffin was then transported to Windsor and carried up the Long Walk at Windsor Castle in a ceremonial procession. A committal service was then held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, followed by a private internment service attended by senior members of the royal family. She was then buried along with Prince Philip, alongside her father King George VI, mother and sister in The King George VI Memorial chapel.

There are numerous exhibitions and tours at Windsor Castle. In fact, a typical visit can take up to 3 hours. This site features as one of our Top Ten UK Tourist Attractions.

Getting to Windsor Castle

Trains run regularly from London Paddington and Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Central or Windsor & Eton Riverside, which are just a 10-minute walk from the castle. Coach Green Line 702 operates daily services from Greenline Coach Station near Victoria station, London. There is no visitor car parking.

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