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Windsor Town - What's Around The Castle

Olde Worlde Cobbled Area Next to Windsor Castle & Much of Interest in Rest of Town

Windsor Town Signposts Outside Windsor Castle

Windsor Old Town

The town of Windsor grew up around Windsor Castle. Immediately opposite the main gate of Windsor Castle is the old medieval part of Windsor Town, a few streets of cobbles.

Today this area is purely for the visitors, a mix of shops, restaurants and pubs where you won't find any locals. There is often a costumed Nell Gwynne (favourite mistress of Charles II) or similar for which you can pose for photos besides. In Church Street you can find Nell Gwynne's house (A.D. 1640), to be found next to the Nell Gwynne Chinese Restaurant.


Also in Church Street, you can visit Ye Olde King's Head - reputedly the oldest inn in Windsor and the place where Shakespeare wrote "The Merry Wives of Windsor". There is also a plaque recording the execution warrant for Charles I in 1648.


On the High Street stands the Crooked House of Windsor (or Market Cross House), first built in 1592 (rebuilt 1687), and so-called 'crooked' due to its delightful crooked angle. Next to it is Queen Charlotte Street, the shortest street in England.

 

Guildhall Windsor

Adjacent to the Old Town, sticking out prominently into the main road and next to Market Cross House, is the Guildhall. The Guildhall was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1690 - architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London - whose family came from Windsor.

 

Guildhall Windsor Old Town

Guildhall Windsor Old Town

The story of the Guildhall is that the councillors did not believe that Wren's design could stay up, and insisted that the central columns be added in the interests of safety - Wren built the columns, but made them an inch short of the ceiling, to prove his architectural ability.


In 2005 the Guildhall was the location of the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles being the nearest place to the castle that is licensed to hold weddings.

In the same year it also hosted the first ever same sex marriage in England between Elton John and David Furnish.

 

Windsor Shops & Central Station

Windsor Central Station

Windsor Central Station

Directly opposite the Old Town are two large old coaching inns now hotels and a bank with ATM's. Down in front of the Castle down to Windsor Central Station and beyond is a whole string off restaurants for all budgets. The further you go down the hill the more upmarket they become.

Windsor Central Station pictured right is full of coffee shops and places that do light lunches spilling out onto the pedestrianised interior. If you walk into the Central Station there are exits into the local shopping centre. There is a large Waitrose supermarket here too.

At the end of the station complex is the one platform for trains themselves. The actual station part of the complex is very small, most of the room being taken up by retail opportunities. There is an old steam train here and you can continue walking over an elevated walkway to Alexandra Gardens by the River Thames. This is where the coach park, Windsor Wheel and river trips start from.

 

Windsor Theatre - Theatre Royal

Windsor Theatre Royal

Windsor Theatre Royal

In the shadow of Windsor Castle at the bottom of the hill from the Castle is the local theatre, the Theatre Royal Windsor.


The Theatre Royal is a commercial theatre. The repertoire is wide, ranging from the classics and traditional pantomime to first productions of new work some of which subsequently transfer to the West End.

Most people going to the theatre are locals, but there is nothing stopping visitors attending. Tickets are often available on the door.

Performances are every evening except Sundays with matinees normally on Thursday and Saturdays in the afternoon.


The present building was completed in 1910 but theatre in Windsor can be traced back as far as 1706.

 

Windsor Great Park

From back at the top of town behind Windsor Castle is Windsor Great Park. This is the remnants of the private hunting grounds that used to stretch for miles and miles back in medieval times. It is still a substantial piece of real estate owned by the Crown Estate, containing several farms, forestry land, polo fields and much else besides. Much of it is open to the public.


To get to Windsor Great Park go down the High Street past the Guildhall until the main road bends right. At this point turn left into Park Street and follow it to the very end where you enter Windsor Great Park. There is a good pub at the very end of Park Street by the park gates.


As you enter Windsor Great Park you get a different view of Windsor Castle on your left. Turning right there is a spectacular sight. The Long Walk is a tree-lined avenue, stretching as far as the eye can see going dead straight. If you wish you can follow this as far as you like, although it officially finishes at the impressive Copper Horse statue, of George III on horseback. It is here that you will be able to see the famous Red Deer, around 500 of them, that roam freely in this Deer Park enclosure.

 

Windsor Great Park is an immense place. It is about 90 minutes' walk to Virginia Water, including a great lake, cascade, and a beautiful landscape. The lake has been used for lakeside scenes in the Harry Potter and Robin Hood films. It is free to enter (parking charges apply). Virginia Water has its own railway station (15 minutes' walk further on) with trains back to London.


Near here is Smith's Lawn where polo matches take place during the summer most Sundays which attract a crowd - especially if a royal is playing.

 

North of Virginia Water Lake, but still in the Great Park is Savill Gardens, one of Britain's greatest ornamental gardens. Built in the 1930s it is an everchanging seasonal display of interlocking spaces. There is an admission fee to enter for most of the year, from December - February it is free.


You could spend all day in Windsor Great Park, it is that huge, including several of the Queen's farms. It takes well over an hour at a brisk walk to walk directly across it but there are so many places of interest you will want to allow yourself plenty of time to see it properly.

 

 


Windsor Castle Viewed From The Long Walk In Windsor Great Park

Windsor Castle Viewed From The Long Walk In Windsor Great Park
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