Trip To Reading Via Oxford: Pt 4 – Windsor, Berkshire

Having taken the link train from Slough into Windsor & Eton Central, we set out to explore one of the Royal towns of England…

Windsor:

Status: Windors & Maidenhead Unitary District, Berkshire, Town, England

Date: 03/11/2013

Travel: Merseyrail (Southport – Liverpool Lime Street via Liverpool Central), London Midland (Liverpool Lime Street – Birmingham New Street), Cross Country (Birmingham New Street – Reading via Oxford), First Great Western (Reading – Windsor via Slough), Virgin Trains (Birmingham New Street – Wigan North Western), Northern Rail (Wigan Wallgate – Southport)

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Windsor Castle, Windsor Guildhall, Legoland Windsor etc

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The train station, Windsor & Eton Central (one of two in the town along with Windsor & Eton Riverside which has direct train connections to London) is part of a larger complex that includes a shopping arcade, called the Royal Windsor Shopping arcade. We also found the above train on show. It is called the Queen, and is a replica of the engine that once pulled the Queen’s Train into Windsor.

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This was the entrance to the aforementioned shopping arcade, and it was absolutely bustling with people. The whole area was very stylish and ornately decorated, and already it felt like a proper Royal location.

Of course once you leave the station you can’t miss the most well known building in the whole town, and indeed one of the most visited locations in the United Kingdom.

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The outer walls of the Castle tower above everything else. It was an incredible feeling to be in the presence of Windsor Castle, and to be near a complete Castle that the monarchs actually still use. The Castle itself takes up a huge area, and it took a while to walk around the walls.

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Around the main office where you can buy tickets to enter the Castle (we didn’t have time as it’s a good 4 or 5 hours back to Lancashire from here) you get a great view of the Round Tower, the most prominent feature of the Castle.Image

Windsor Castle originally dates from the 11th century, after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror, and has been used ever since Henry I by the incumbent monarchs of Britain. It holds the distinction of being the longest occupied palace in Europe, and the first version of the Castle was timber. It was gradually replaced by Stone Walls, and in the 13th century it withstood an attack during the First Baron’s War. Later on that century, Henry III added a royal palace to the complex, and then Edward III rebuilt the palace to even grander designs. The Castle was very popular with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I who made great use of it during their reigns. It survived the Civil War unscathed, and was used by Parliamentary forces, and became the prison of Charles I. His successor Charles II rebuilt much of the Castle, making it even more impressive. George III and IV rebuilt the palace Charles II put in, and during World War II the Royal Family used the Castle as a refuge.

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Between the Round Tower and the train station we arrived at, we passed a statue of Queen Victoria, and who else would you have a statue of at the sight of a Royal Residence. At the end of the road, past the statue you can see the Guildhall, which fulfils the function of Town Hall.

Construction began in 1687, and finished by Sir Christopher Wren (1632 – 1723, famous English Architect) after the previous Architect, Thomas Fitz, sadly died in 1689 before it was finished. At the front of the building is a columned area that originally housed the Corn Market.

In 1829 the Guildhall was extended, and a two storey building was added at the back. In 1851, the again between 1950 and 1951, major restorations were undertaken, and it was reopened in 1951 after having been used as a food office during World War II. Historically the building has been used for both administrative and commercial purposes.

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Looking down one of the side streets quite close to the Victoria, we got a great view down one of the old cobbled streets. Windsor is quite and old town, but the original settlement is a village close by now called Old Windsor to differentiate the two.

At the back of the picture you can see the tower of Windsor Parish Church, of St John the Baptist, from 1822.

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From the main area of the town we walked down hill from the Castle to the banks of the River Thames. Whole flocks of swans greeted us, and it is well known in England that swans, or at least mute swans, are property of the crown in the UK and associated with the Queen.

The Thames itself was shining under the sunlight and you can get river cruises up and down it at various stages of its length.

Windsor is an amazing town and very very British. Not far out of the town is Legoland Windsor, an amusement park aimed at kids based around the popular toy lego. The park opened in 1996, on the sight of the former Windsor Safari Park. It is the 2nd most visited amusement park in Britain in Alton Towers and 10th in Europe.

Windsors two train stations, Central and Riverside give direction connections to both Slough and London, and the M4 runs close by from South Wales (Swansea, Cardiff, Newport) and Bristol through Reading to Windsor and then on to London. London Heathrow is very close to Windsor and we frequently saw planes flying overhead as Windsor is in the airports flight path.

Windsor is the perfect place to visit to truly feel British, and I was proud to visit one of the Royal Towns, so close to London. From here we crossed Windsor Bridge, into the town of Eton, which begins directly over the river, for quick look…

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