Windsor Castle's Round Tower Reopens

1 August 2011, 05:00

The Round Tower at Windsor Castle has been closed for almost 40 years. The first public tours are starting today(1st August 2011).

It was closed off to the public in 1975 when security fears, including the threat of action from the IRA, meant letting people in to part of a royal residence was too risky. Built in 1170, it's one of the oldest parts of the Queen's favoured weekend home in Berkshire.

Janet Cole, one of the castle wardens, devised the tour. She told Heart what's unique about the tower:

"Certainly when people come here on a normal day they look up to the tower and ask if they can go up to the top. Once you get to the top of the tower you don't just see a tower you see a panorama of English history and it's an absolutely unique view."

From the top, 40 metres above the town of Windsor you can see right into London, with Canary Wharf and the Wembley arch visible on one side and the rolling Surrey hills to the other.

Janet added what the tower's been used for over the years.

"It was originally accommodation for people who lived in the castle. Some people think the monarch actually lives in the round tower but this has never been the case. In the later periods of time the governor of Windsor Castle actually occupied the tower. In the late 20th Century the governor's apartments moved and since that time it's become the Royal Archives and the Royal Photograph Collection."

Almost 4 decades since the public were allowed to roam the tower without guides, each new tour is now guided.