Windsor Castle

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An early 18th century view of Windsor Castle by Kip and Knyff.
St George's Hall Windsor from W.H. Pyne's Royal Residences (1819). This shows the  style of the work carried our at Windsor for  by architect , painted , carver  and others. St George's Hall was redecorated in the early 19th century, but several smaller interiors from this period survive.
St George's Hall Windsor from W.H. Pyne's Royal Residences (1819). This shows the baroque style of the work carried our at Windsor for Charles II by architect Hugh May, painted Antonio Verrio, carver Grinling Gibbons and others. St George's Hall was redecorated in the early 19th century, but several smaller interiors from this period survive.
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This plan of Windsor Castle was made by Batty Langley in 1743. George IV made substantial alterations to Windsor in the early 19th century, but all the principal elements of the present castle can be seen here. There are two baileys either side of a circular motte, which is topped by the Round Tower. St George's Chapel is in the bailey on the left. The state apartments are top right and the private apartments are bottom right
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St George's Hall in 1848 by Joseph Nash, showing the alterations made for George IV by Sir Jeffry Wyatville.

Windsor Castle is, along with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth stays there on many weekends of the year, as well as during the prestigious Royal Meeting at the nearby Ascot Racecourse. It claims the distinction of being the largest occupied castle in the world, and among the oldest.

The castle is located in the Berkshire town of Windsor, in the Thames Valley to the west of London. Eton College is located about a mile to its north. It was originally built by William the Conqueror to act as a line of defence for London and has since had many additions and improvements. King Edward III made its St George's Chapel the home of the Order of the Garter in 1348. Today the inhabited wing of the castle mostly dates to within the last two centuries, much of it built under George IV.

The castle's layout dates back to the mediaeval fortifications. The lower ward (at the bottom of the accompanying illustration) is home to St. George's Chapel, while the upper ward (at the top) contains the royal apartments and grand state rooms (such as St. George's Hall, whose ceiling is decorated with the coats of arms of all the knights of the garter). The two wards are separated by the round tower, a descendant of the original motte of William the Conqueror's castle. The immediate environs of the castle called "The Home Park" also contains the school (St.Georges, Windsor Castle) that provides choristers to the Chapel.

One of the most popular tourist attractions at Windsor Castle is Queen Mary's Dolls' House, a 1:12 model (designed by Edwin Lutyens) of a house suitable for a monarch in the early 20th century.

Some of the important events which have occurred at Windsor Castle:

During the first world war, the royal family felt the need to change its dynasty name from the German "House of Saxe Coburg-Gotha"; they took their new name from the castle, becoming the "House of Windsor."

On November 20 1992, a significant part of the upper ward of Windsor Castle (including St. George's hall) was damaged by fire. The fire started in the Private Chapel, raged for 15 hours, and seriously damaged the northwest side of the building. An investigation found that the fire was ignited after a spotlight came into contact with a curtain over an extended period. Buckingham Palace was opened to the public for two months each summer to help to pay for the restoration of Windsor Castle, and this innovation has become permanent.

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