Saturday, May 5, 2012

Windsor Castle

The Castle
I thought visiting Windsor Castle would just be a tour of massive rooms furnished with expensive things. For this reason, I went to Windsor with moderate expectations. To a certain extent, a good deal of Windsor is rooms with nice furniture, but it is also one of the more brilliant things I have done in London. To begin with, it is a castle--I never really processed the "castle" bit of Windsor Castle. I expected a building like Buckingham Palace. No, it is a legit castle. It has a moat, arrow loops, 30 meter thick walls, murder holes, etc. While the moat never held any water, they put it to better use as a gorgeous garden. A castle with a garden-moat? I understand why the Queen prefers to spend her time here.   

Fancy Interior
I could care less about the lavish furnishing, but the history of the rooms and the paintings were fantastic. Okay, there was one room that I did not enjoy. The Queen has a "doll" room that is filled with dolls and their elaborate palace. On the audio guide it said that the Queen likes collecting miniature things. 1. The collection of small things is a slightly disturbing hobby. 2. Who knows they like small things enough to consciously collect them? Most girls will "ahhh" at a small coke bottle, but no one ever makes a shrine of small things because of it. I think I can safely assume the Queen of England will not read my blog, so I do not feel remorse labeling her hobby as disturbing. 

One of my favorite rooms, conceptually, was the "Napoleon Haters Room." They built the room after they defeated Napoleon and memorialized all the people that helped defeat him (non-English included). I also enjoyed the china room that displayed all of the Queen's china. During my entire visit to the china room, I wondered how they can replace the china from the 1700s because I'm sure some servant or young prince--my money is on Prince Harry--has dropped a plate or two. The best part was the art. You would walk into a room and see a Rembrandt, Van Dyke, etc. At one point I turned the corner and I was standing a foot away from the famous Henry VIII portrait.  

St. George's Chapel
But this--the fine building bellow--made this excursion incredible. We almost skipped it because we didn't realize what it housed. As far as aesthetics, it is one of my favorite cathedrals because it has the most gorgeous fan-vaulting I have ever seen and original stained glass windows.

Then we walked into the Chapel of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. 

These seats are for those who receive the Order of the Garter; they have their family flag flying above and a sword half drawn--ready to defend their country. As we began to walk out of the room, I abruptly stopped everyone--I made quite a scene--and  loudly asked "do you know who you just walked on?" Abbey replied, Jane Seymour. Hang Jane Seymour! You are walking on Henry! Yes. It was Henry VIII. Why hello Henry. Fancy meeting you here. What is guy like you doing in a chapel like this? Well he actually was buried there as a temporary place of burial. He had elaborate plans for his shrine, but he has yet to make the move. Not knowing what was inside this chapel, and discovering the Garter room and Henry VIII's grave created one of my most unique experiences in London. 


  1. IN MY DEFENSE, I really only saw the sign for Jane Seymour because there was a glare on the floor! I really do care about Henry. And by "care about," I mean "loath entirely, but am still aware of the historical significance of said person."

  2. Hillary,
    I am so pleased you are touring London and environs. Tudor history is a passion of mine. I just returned from Mexico where my reading material was The Children of Henry VIII. Author Alison Weir is very good. I did not make in inside Windsor Castle while in England in 2005 but will make it next time. I did make it to the outside of it along with my traveling companion Burke.

    Henry VIII, while a tyrant indeed, was arguably one of the greatest Monarchs to govern (Some say Elizabeth I was greatest). So much of what we use and think in life finds their origins in Tudor history. And poor Lady Jane! Queen for 9 days against her will and paid with her life. Have you been to the Tower yet? My favorite tour.

    You know I’m sure you have English blood. Your Great Grandfather Gamblin supplied that!

    Enjoy England and learn lots!

    Uncle Mike