Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
We only live around 70 minutes from Windsor Castle but had never been despite our six year olds interest in seeing where the Queen lives, so it was fantastic to get the opportunity to visit yesterday. Windsor Castle is one of three official residences of The Queen and we read that she stays there most weekends, so like hundreds of other tourists we were hoping to catch a glimpse as we walked around. I had looked through the website in detail before leaving and had noted that there was not any official parking nor was there a café or restaurant on site, and with no picnics allowed we did start to wonder how child friendly it would be.
Although very busy in Windsor, we quickly found a parking space ten minutes’ walk from the castle, as we took the recommendations from the website to get there later in the day some people where already leaving, grabbed a bottle of water and set off. The castle is well signposted but it’s also incredibly busy so just follow everyone else and you can’t get lost. We were very relieved when we got there that tickets were pre-booked as even though it was 3pm the queue at the ticket office was snaking down the road. We picked up our tickets quickly and easily and went straight through into airport type security, where we had all our bags, and bodies scanned and joined the queue for the audio guide. We each got a phone type implement and a pair of headphones, set the guide to family and set off following the instructions. I needn’t have worried about the Castle not being family friendly as our son was engrossed in the tour from start to finish. It was simple and easy to use with a number for each room/area and several things to do at each number. Although there was plenty of information to take in it was pitched at the right level for children and we found it invaluable. There were things to do in each room, such as finding paintings which kept our son interested throughout the 2 hour tour.
The Castle and grounds were just beautiful as you would expect, extremely well kept with plenty of benches and places to sit it was a joy to walk around. It is very busy though so don’t always expect to go at your own pace, you will have to follow a line of visitors. The highlight for us was St George’s Chapel an amazing example of Gothic architecture with a fabulous stone ceiling and beautifully coloured windows it really shone on the tour. It’s hard to contemplate as you walk round just how old and well preserved the Castle and grounds are. Royalty has been living here for 900 years and the chapel in some shape or form from 1457. The other thing that surprised me was the amazing refurbishment of the areas that had been devastated by the fire in 1992 you wouldn’t know that St George’s Hall had been rebuilt within the last 30 years it looks every bit as old as the rest of the Castle.
We never got to see the Queen, but we did have a really enjoyable time at Windsor Castle seeing some fabulous history. My worries about it not being child friendly were unfounded as the audio guide was great, there were plenty of toilets and even an ice cream parlour.
I really recommend it as a place to visit, just remember to wear comfortable shoes, pre-book your tickets and bring plenty of money for parking, a 4 hour ticket is £6.50.
Tickets cost £22.50 (Adult) / £13 (Under 17) / £58 (2 adults 2 under 17)
For more information or to book tickets visit www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ