The Weekend Home of Her Majesty the Queen
Over 1.6 million people visit Windsor Castle each year. It is not surprising; it is an incredible place. On a visit, you see the stunning interiors of St Georges Chapel, the home of the Order of the Garter (highest order of chivalry in the country) you stroll the castle precincts and see beautifully maintained historical State Apartments.
The castle footprint is thirteen acres and sits on a huge hill overlooking the river Thames, the superhighway to and from London in the past. Today Windsor is reached via the modern M4 motorway taking you straight into the pretty old town. We are experts at making your day run smoothly and suggest either early morning or late afternoon arrival at Windsor to avoiding groups. Your driver guided day tour to Windsor will be much more pleasurable sticking to this plan.
The castle is a weekend retreat for King Charles and is a must-do on a first-time visit to the UK. Touring an operational Royal residence and on occasions seeing the King arrive is quite an experience. Heathrow airport is a 20-minute drive away making the Castle tour on an arrival or departure day convenient. Our excellent Town and Country Tour itinerary features Windsor Castle.
A weekend home
A brief history of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was part of a ring of nine fortresses surrounding London, constructed by William I as part of his conquest of England. Only two survive, Rochester Castle (a ruin) and Windsor. These strongholds are all carefully located one day march from the centre of London. By 1070 ad the first structure built was a wooden motte (a hill with a keep) and Bailey (walled area) design, strategically situated on the banks of the River Thames on a natural hill. Windsor's purpose was a defensive Castle, and eventually a comfortable home.
Castle to Palace
The rebuild in stone began in the 12th Century, and substantial Royal apartments became part of the plan. The river site is convenient; Royal barges could transport Kings and Queens in comfort and safety from the Royal Courts in London. There was good hunting to be had in the region, and these diversions made Windsor Castle a much-loved palace. Close enough to London for political reasons and far enough for fresh air and security.
During the 14th Century King Edward III, remodelled, reconstructed sections into a gothic Palace and made St Georges Chapel the seat of the Order-of-the-Garter. Later the Baroque style was in, and King Charles II determined to make this a principal residence again re-designed the interiors. The last big make-over happens during the extravagant reign of King George IV, amplifying the gothic style and refreshing the state apartments into a glamourous suite of vividly coloured rooms, such as the Green and Crimson Drawing Rooms.
St Georges Chapel
What you see now was built in the late 15th Century, the much-admired English perpendicular gothic style. The chapel is one of the highest-rated buildings of the period and inspires awe upon entry. The chapel is the resting place of eleven monarchs: including the late Queen Elizabeth II, King Henry VIII (famous for the six wives) King George V, King Edward IIII and the Queen Elizabeth's beloved father King George VI. Our Driver Guide will show you the graves and tell the stories of Britain's Royalty. Queen Elizabeth (21st April 1926 - 8th September 2022) is now beside her beloved husband HRH Prince Philip who died on 9th April 2021 and was laid to rest in the chapel.
The Knights helmets, emblems and banners in the choir represent the knights of the Order of the Garter. The legendary stories and myths of King Arthur seem to be the inspiration of the Knighthood. Who becomes a Knight of the Garter? For those displaying loyalty, courage, talent with a long list of achievements. Recipients of the past include Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Sir Winston Churchill.
On the 20th of November 1992, a fire broke out in the private chapel. It may have been a spotlight leaning against a curtain. The fire destroyed St George's Hall, grand reception rooms, state dining room and various others. The fire happened during rewiring work, and therefore staff had removed the majority of paintings and other precious objects.
Restoration began immediately preceding the fire and completed in November 1997. The result is magnificent, old skills revived and new skills invented to make it all happen. See the restored St George's Hall, the grand reception room and crimson drawing rooms on a tour of Windsor.
Windsor Great Park
On a warm sunny day, if required, we will arrange a picnic lunch in the park. Enjoy Champagne strawberries and delicacies from Fortnum's and Masons, what a lovely Royal Day out. Explore the 4,800 acres by grand horse-drawn carriage, the perfect way to surprise a parent friend or family member.
Let us tailor a Tour of Windsor and include an afternoon in the park - The park today is a place of pleasure and relaxation. Once it was a hunting ground, used by Royal hunting parties for centuries, things are more sedate today. Within the park see The Savill Garden, 35 acres of connected glades, spring woods, summer gardens and hidden gems. See The Long Walk, an impressive three-mile avenue of horse chestnut trees leading to the colossal equestrian statue of King George III and not forgetting Virginia Water, a picturesque lake with cascade.
Touring and accommodation
Windsor is 24 miles from central London, making a half-day tour a feasible option. Get the full royal insight and combine Hampton Court Palace and Windsor in one day. Our Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral Tour is a superb day tour from London for those with limited time. The trip has great variety, A Royal castle, a famous ancient monument and a beautiful cathedral city.
Staying outside of London makes the logistics much more convenient when touring multiple southern England places in one day. Staying overnight at Cliveden House Hotel for a couple of nights makes travelling west of London very pleasant and relaxing. Add on a night at the Lygon Arms Hotel in the Cotswolds Hills, and you have the makings of a superb multi-day tour of England. Our Town and Country Tour is a well-designed trip perfect for the first visit to England. Please ask us to customise your Private Tour of England and make it your own.
Windsor Castle, a Royal Weekend Home
The Largest Inhabited Castle in the World
- See inside St George's Chapel
- VIP Tours Available
- Horse Drawn Carriage Rides Available
- Driver Guided tour from London
- Picnic in the Grounds
Windsor Castle, the Queens entrance
Windsor Castle Long Walk Picnic Location
Windsor Castle Precincts with St George's Chapel
Windsor Town with parish church
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK, EU and US office-based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email