Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Royal Windsor Castle

Windsor symbolises royalty, power and pageantry in Britain, and in this royal town it is often possible to witness two scenes of majesty, separated by 1,000 years of history, each a jewel in a nation's crown.

One a strong and noble castle over which a supersonic bird, Concorde, brings some of the millions who, for a while, step back in time to capture so much which has shaped this nation's colourful history.

It is of course inevitable that our long line of monarchs should figure greatly in the history of Windsor and its castle, for like Queen Elizabeth II today, the kings and queens before her have made Windsor their home and sometimes their fortress.

To-day Windsor Castle is foremost a palace as its official title suggests, for it is, when correctly named: "Her majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of Windsor Castle", thus it is not only the home of Her Majesty but also the official welcoming place for visiting heads of state. It is also the scene of the splendour of the Garter Ceremony and Banquets, which would do justice to traditions of long ago.

Like other official royal residences members of Her Majesty's armed forces mount sentry duty, whilst for ceremonial occasions they are joined by the Household Cavalry.

William the Conqueror(1066-1087) saw the military advantages of the chalk cliff rising 100 feet above the Thames and started building at Windsor in 1070.

Native labour was out to work by Norman Soldiers on the "motte and bailey" castle.

They began by digging a deep ditch and the earth removed was piled up to form the central artificial mound (known as the motte). This formed the strongpoint or keep, now the Round Tower.

To-day's visitors enter the Castle through King Henry VIII Gateway on Castle Hill.

The Gateway features six slits through which boiling oil or molten lead could be tipped onto attackers. Once over the Gateway threshold a panoramic view of the Castle's Lower Ward meets the eye.