London Guide - Windsor and Eton
Although not officially part of London, these two Berkshire towns situated 18 miles from central London which are home to the British Royal family and seat of learning for most of Britain's statesmen, have become two of Britain's top tourist attractions for visitors to the capital.
Unlike London, Royal Windsor ( to give it it's official title ) and Eton are small scale, allowing the visitor to view most of what the area has to offer in one day.
Top of the must see list has to be Windsor Castle / Palace, home of the British monarch and the oldest permanently inhabited castle / palace in the British Isles.
The motte and bailey castle was originally built by William the Conquerer during the 1170's, but did not become a royal residence until the reign of King Henry III in the late 1250's.
The castle has seen significant remodelling since then by various royals who preferred Windsor as their royal home, including King Edward III, King Henry VIII, King Charles II, King Edward VII, King George V and Queen Elisabeth II.
The castle's Royal Chapel of St George's is the buriel place of several royals and their spouses, as well as a preferred royal wedding location.
The castle is open daily to visitors, even when the Queen is in residence.For more information on tours and prices, visit the castle's website link at the end of this article.
The Queen's Standard, flown when the queen is in residence.
To tell if the Queen is at home, look for the Queen's Royal Standard. If she is in attendance, the standard will be flying from one of the castle's turrets, if she is not at home, the standard will be absent.
However, even if she is at home, the chances of seeing her Majesty is rare, although there is more of a chance of seeing Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh as he is very prolific within the grounds of the 4,800 acre Windsor Great Park and the grounds of Home Park, the site of his royal home farm and royal farm shop,which is open to the public.
Also situated in Home Park is Frogmore House,the Frogmore Estate and the Royal Mausoleum, which unfortunately are not open to the public.
The Long Walk, with Windsor Castle in the background.
Another interesting feature of the castle grounds is the Long Walk, a 2.65 mile long pathway that links the castle with Windsor Great Park, at the site of the copper horse statue of King George III.
Also situated in the park are the Royal Lodge, home of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York - not open to the public - and Cumberland Lodge, a 17th century house which is used for academic workshops.
The small town of Windsor also has much more to offer the visitor, including many period buildings, the royal barracks,a swan sanctuary, river boat trips, an interesting Victorian train station with an olde worlde shopping complex, a cobbled high street with many stylish shops, bars and eateries, 3 churches, a guildhall, The Windsor Wheel, a Summertime ferris wheel attraction in Alexandra Gardens, the Theatre Royal on Castle Hill, and the only figure of eight, flat, horse racing course in the country.
The private gardens of the Frogmore Estate are only open on a few days of the year and the Royal Mausolea is never opened to the public, but can be seen from the periphery of the garden on open days.
Shaw Farm, situated within the 655 acre Home Park, is the Prince Consort's home farm and the farm's shop is open daily to the public.
For more information about Windsor Great Park and the Home Farm Shop, visit their website links at the end of this article.
Windsor / Eton Bridge, with the Windsor Wheel in the background.
The town of Eton is accessed by way of a 30 metre long, pedestrian bridge over the River Thames that links Windsor with Eton.
The main street into Eton is lined with bars, eateries and antique shops, that lead up to the college area known as the School Yard, home of Britian's most prestigious seat of learning.
The college area is lined with an eclectic mix of educational, residential and ecclesiastical buildings from various architectural periods.
if you visit Eton during term time, even at the weekends, you will see the pupils dressed in their distinctive black tailcoat and black and grey pinstriped trousers, as they make their way to and from their classes or dorms.
These young men are the sons of both British and foreign royalty, the British titled elite,the upper classes and the super rich.
The original school at Eton was founded by King Henry VI in 1440 as a charity school for 70 poor boys, who had the ability to go on to further education, but whose parents could not afford school fees.This original foundation is still in use today by way of the King's Scholars scolarship, which enables 70 boys a year to enter the hallowed corridors of Eton under the same criteria.
Former pupils of Eton are known as Old Etonians, and the line up of Old Etonians includes several royal princes, well known actors and musicians and 19 British prime ministers, including the present one David Cameron and the present Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
For more information about Eton, visit the town's website link at the end of this article.
Ariel view of Windsor Castle with St George's Chapel on the left and the start of the Long Walk in the foreground.
Visitor Access Information.
The post code for Windsor is - SL4 situated off junction 6 of the M4.
The nearest access station is - Windsor - a national rail station.
Windsor and Eton can also be accessed by river boat and local bus.
Windsor Castle Long Walk entrance is situated at post code SL4 2HH off the A308 road.
Windsor Great Park entrance is accessed at post code SL4 2HT off the A332 road.
Windsor Farm Shop is located on Datchet Road, Windsor at post code SL4 2RQ.
Windsor Race course is situated at Maidenhead Road, Windsor at post code SL4 5JJ.
Both Windsor and Eton are easilly accessible by foot, although there are some steep inclines to negotiate on the road that runs alongside the castle - Castle Hill - and Windsor's main shopping area along Peascod Street.
The Thames riverside walkways in Windsor are all on level ground but some access ways do have steps.
The bridge between Windsor and Eton is about 30 metres long and it's access on both sides has a slight incline.
The Long Walk is 2.65 miles long and on level ground.
Windsor Great Park covers nearly 5,000 acres of grass and common land and is on level ground.
The park can be explored either by car, by foot, on horseback or by cycle.
WINDSOR AND ETON ATTRACTIONS WEBSITES -
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Images courtesy of Cham, Martin Morgenstern, Anthony McCallum, & Mark.S.Jobling, wikimedia commons.