How old is Windsor Castle, does the Queen live there and who built the fortress?
21 April 2019, 09:59 | Updated: 21 April 2019, 10:05
The largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, Windsor Castle has been the setting for royal weddings and state events, as well as a place to call home for 39 monarchs.
Today, it’s open to visitors throughout the year while also a very busy venue for royal and state events. It regularly hosts dignitaries such as foreign heads of state in its banquet hall and St George’s Chapel holds daily services open to all.
How old is Windsor Castle?
More than 900 years old, the castle’s origins date back to William the Conqueror. He chose its location and started construction around 1070, which is said to have taken 16 years.
However the castle wasn’t built as a residence but rather a defense. With the site perched above the river Thames, and approximately 20 miles to the west of London, it was an advantageous location to guard the capital.
Many of the kings and queens who would call it home over the next few centuries added comfortable accommodations, made necessary repairs or even rebuilt the castle, remaking it into the palace we see today.
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Does the Queen live there?
The Queen is often in residence at Windsor Castle - depending on the time of year and her schedule.
Her Majesty takes up official residence for a month over Easter (called Easter Court) and for one week in June during the Royal Ascot and the Order of the Garter at St. George’s Chapel.
For private weekends it’s often where she chooses to spend her time, and visitors will know if she’s home by looking at the flag flying from the Castle’s Round Tower. If it’s the Royal Standard it means she’s there.
Who built the fortress?
Though the initial construction had only been completed in the late 11th century, by the early 12th century Henry I had already added domestic quarters. The original timber walls would be replaced with stone by Henry II before the century was out, as well as seeing the construction of the Round Tower.
As each generation made their mark on the castle, modernising the facilities to the standard of the era, the former military fortress transformed into a palace.
A fire broke out in what was once Queen Victoria’s private chapel on 20 November 1992, destroying several rooms in the castle.
Restoration work started immediately, which included redesigning some spaces in a modern gothic style, while other parts were restored to their historic condition. The repair work lasted five years.