Castles, we’ve learned in many, many horror movies, can be very scary. The creepy decor, the menacing noises (yes, the ones that don’t turn out to be a stray cat at the end), the ghosts that seem to haunt the place. Of course, we can connect some castles to horror mythology, such as Bran Castle, which is associated with Dracula. When it happens in the British Isles, you can expect gothic horror with style. Does the famous Windsor Castle fulfill this condition and can, therefore, suit horror fans?
Let’s start from the beginning: Windsor Castle is one of the most important historical sites in the British Isles, and you don’t have to be the Queen of England to know that. It is a vast (the largest staffed castle in the world) with a history of over a thousand years, which remains well preserved even today. It is used for various events of a royal nature and, in between, attracts countless tourists.
With all due respect to the majestic sides of the castle, we’re here to talk about its more menacing sides. Happily, there are. The castle is known partly for its fascinating history, with some points that the British might be happy to erase from the resume: torture, executions, etc. Like other historical sites that have become spooky over time, some believe it is haunted by several ghosts, including kings, queens, and other figures in the history of the British people. Here are some Windsor Castle facts and tips.
When Was Windsor Castle Built? And Why?
As you may have guessed from its name, Windsor Castle is located near the city of Windsor in the Thames River Valley in Berkshire, England. Windsor Castle construction started many years ago – in 1070, to be precise. William the Conqueror is the one who built Windsor Castle, He decided to build a wooden castle, partly for defensive purposes in the Saskatchewan region of England. He placed it near the Thames River so they could use it to observe the river. In the same year, they laid the foundations for the castle, the construction of which was only completed in 1086.
Still, quite a bit of work was needed until the castle was as grand and grand as it is today. Henry II made it one of his most significant projects and “repurposed” it into a real palace. He decided over the years to expand the castle, add living rooms, surround it with a fence, and replace the wood with stone. The circular tower identified with the castle was built in 1170 when a royal chapel was also built during the time of Henry III.
The British kings and queens made quite a few changes to it. Edward III, for example, wanted to turn the chapel into the home of the Order of the Garter, the crucial British order of knights, in 1348. During the reign of George IV, they raised the skyline of the castle. The comprehensive renovations of Edward III in the years 1350-1370, for about 50,000 pounds, which is considered a considerable sum in this period, gave it, among other things, the Gothic style that is still associated with the House of Windsor.
The castle has been renovated and upgraded several times since then, but in historical castles, as we know, a lot can go wrong. The main event is the fire at Windor Castle. On November 20, 1992, Windsor Castle fire took place, which destroyed most of the upper part of the castle and damaged the rooms and a large part of the works of art scattered in them. The flames started in the Queen’s private chapel, when the cause of Windsor Castle fire is probably due to the heating and explosion of a light bulb, which resulted in a curtain burning. An amount of almost 40 million pounds is required to restore the castle to its former glory. The high costs resulted in the castle’s opening to the general public, as well as Buckingham Palace, to finance part of the amount.
Windsor Castle History: The Place That Saw It All
Unlike some of the historical castles (including those within the boundaries of the British Kingdom), Windsor Castle has been alive and operating since those years. It is still one of the residences of the British royal family, along with London’s Buckingham Palace, Holyrood Palace, and Balmoral Castle in Scotland. It is considered the largest staffed castle in the world.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth II especially loved The Windsor Castle, even more than Buckingham Palace, which was her official residence. She came here occasionally, mainly during the Easter holiday and on the weekends, until her death on September 8, 2022. The British royal families also come here mainly during the week of the Royal Exot, which includes various events at the most famous horse racing track in the British Kingdom. Over the years, the castle has become what you can buy as a “culture and entertainment center,” especially for the kingdom.
Countless vital events on a British and even global scale were held in the castle throughout history. Several marriage ceremonies were born here, including those of King Henry I and Adeliza (1121), Edward VII and Alexandra (1863), Prince Edward to Sophie Rhys Jones (1999), and, of course, the marriage of King Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles (2005) and Prince Harry to Meghan Merkel (2018), a publicized event that significantly increased the demand for tours of the castle. On the other hand, the place also knew burials and funerals, for example, of Edward IV (1483), Prince Philip (2021) and Elizabeth II (2022). To this day, the castle hosts essential events related to the British kingdom, such as balls, dinners, and ceremonies, often in the presence of the most important names in the world. There are about 150 people who lives in Windsor Castle today, mainly management and maintenance personnel, live in the castle permanently.
The Dark Sides Of Windsor Castle
In castles, as we know, not all that glitter is gold. Through the walls of the well-preserved castle, which creates one of the most impressive skylines in the British Isles, hide some aspects that might have been better erased. The castle has a history of torture, imprisonment, and executions. You can see it in the curfew tower from the 13th century, part of the castle’s defense system, which was used, among other things, as a prison and a torture chamber for the enemies of the kingdom. The prisoners who were held here and served some of their time include William Wallace, the Scottish rebel leader you may remember from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Executions took place in the dean’s house, mainly during the reign of King Henry VIII.
During the English Civil War, Windsor Castle served as a prison for King Charles I before his execution by beheading in 1649. According to various testimonies, the king (who is also buried here) haunts certain parts of the castle. Queen Victoria, apparently displeased with various changes grandson Edward VIII made to the building – including the removal of the family fir tree – is said to wander here occasionally, waving her arms and moaning angrily.
In general, some believe that this is one of the most haunted places in the British Isles. Those who believe in stories of this kind may be able to meet some of the important historical figures who lived here. Some believe King Henry VIII haunts certain parts of the castle, so at night, you can hear his steps on top of his sore leg, groaning from the pains of foot necrosis, boils, and obesity he suffered in the later years. Some claim it is an enormous, angry ghost whose screams break the silence.
There are stories that Anne Boleyn, who was his wife and was executed in 1537 by beheading on charges of witchcraft, treason, and adultery, also haunts the castle in whose chapel she is buried.
Queen Elizabeth I (the “Virgin Queen,” who had a suspicious and cruel nature) haunts the library area, so it might be a good idea not to steal books from there. If you are quiet, as we naturally expect you to be in the library, you may be able to hear her, too, walking in high heels or standing by one of the windows. Of course, not every ghost that appears here (supposedly, yes?) is that of an important historical figure. There are also more ordinary ghosts here, maybe even middle-class ones.
If you thought that outside the castle, you could take a stroll in the pastoral park, think again. Some believe that the park surrounding the castle is haunted by the spirit of Hearne the Huntsman, who, according to British mythology, was one of King Richard II’s huntsmen. When King Richard’s life was in danger from an attacking stag, the loyal hunter sacrificed himself to save him. A wizard decided to save his life by attaching the antlers to his head, but the other hunters stayed away from him – because who wants to be around a hunter with antlers on his head – so he hanged himself from a tree in the park. His ghost is said to appear when England is in danger, with horns on his head and in chains.
How Can You Visit Windsor Castle?
Windsor Castle is open to the general public most of the year, except when it is closed for royal events. The accepted framework is an organized tour, which includes everything essential to see, including:
- The luxurious living and hospitality rooms stand out, among other things, for the impressive works of art, fancy dinnerware, and decorative items.
- St. George’s Chapel is considered one of the exemplary symbols of Gothic design. Historically, some of the kings of the British Isles are buried here. There may be congestion that will limit the number of visitors, especially on Saturdays and holidays, starting at noon (2:30 p.m. onwards)
- Queen Mary’s Doll’s House – a very impressive doll’s house designed for Queen Mary and presented at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924-1925. In the doll’s house, in a ratio of 12 to 1, you will find thousands of furniture and items that people used in those periods, and what is interesting here is that the electrical appliances are active, there is water in the pipes, elevators, cars and also a library with tiny titles, in which complete works appear and even some specially written stories ( among others, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
- The Moat Room – a small museum displaying archaeological finds from the Roman period
- The guard ceremony changing takes place at 11:00 a.m. every day between the months of April and July and at alternating times throughout the year. Although it is an impressive ceremony, it is less exciting and famous than Buckingham Palace’s.
Please note that taking pictures inside Windsor Castle or in the chapel is forbidden.
Tickets For Windsor Castle
General Admission Tickets
There are several ways to visit Windsor Castle. The first option is to buy an entrance ticket, which includes the parts open to the public and an audio guide in various languages.
We recommend buying Windsor Castle tickets in advance for a couple of reasons. The first is that the pre-order price is cheaper than at the box office. The other reason is that booking in advance will surely reserve a place in the castle, which is impossible to say about tickets purchased at the box office. Think, for example, of a perfectly possible scenario where you arrive at the castle from London on a journey that can also take about two hours by public transport and discover that you cannot enter the palace. Pre-ordered tickets will also allow you to avoid the queues at the entrance, which can be busy. You can show the tickets on your phone without worrying about printing and other bureaucratic complications.
Windsor Castle Prices:
The prices of Windsor Castle tickets to the castle are as of today (2023):
- Adult – £28 pre-booked, £30 purchased at the box office
- Young Adults (18-24) – £18 pre-order, £19.50 at the box office
- Children (5-17) – £15.5 pre-order, £16.5 at the box office
- People with physical disabilities – £15.5 pre-order, £16.5 at the box office
- Children over the age of five enter free of charge
Windsor Castle Opening Hours
The opening times of Windsor Castle vary throughout the year, where as of today (2023), the castle is open Thursday through Monday from 10:00 to 17:15 (last entry at 16:00) in March to October, and from 10:15 to 16:15: 00 (last access at 15:00) on those days in November to February. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in any case, the castle is closed. Consider this when planning your trip to the British Kingdom.
Directions And Location
You probably ask yourself (or Dr. Google) where is Windsor Castle, and how Far Is Windsor Castle From London. Well, the palace is about 43 km away from London1.
You can visit Windsor Castle by train, bus, taxi, or car. Here are some details about each option:
- Train: The fastest way to get to Windsor Castle is to take a train from London Paddington to Slough, then change to another train to Windsor & Eton Central. London To Windsor Castle train costs from £6 to £34, but can be lengthy as you change lines. Alternatively, you can take a direct train from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside, which takes about 1 hour and costs from £11 to £273. Both Windsor stations are within walking distance from the castle.
- Bus: The cheapest way to get to The Windsor Castle by bus is to take the Green Line 702 bus from Victoria Station in London to Windsor Town Centre, Theatre Royal. The bus takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes and costs only £2. You can save money by booking roundtrip tickets or using a contactless payment method. The bus stop is right in front of the castle.
- Taxi: The most convenient way to get to Windsor Castle by taxi is to take one from London Paddington. The ride takes about 30 minutes, costing from £170 to £210. However, this is also the most expensive option and may vary depending on traffic conditions.
- Car: The most flexible way to get to Windsor Castle is to drive from London Paddington. The ride takes about 30 minutes and covers a distance of 35 km. However, this is not recommended as you may encounter traffic congestion, parking difficulties (here is information about Windsor Castle car park options), and high fuel costs. You will also need a valid driving license.
Windsor Castle Tours And Day Trips
Another possibility is to come here as part of a guided day trip, departing from London or other nearby cities, sometimes in combination with other essential sites. That way you can get also a Windsor Castle tour, by official guide, that will let you know everything you need to know.
More Scary London Attractions: