Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, Berkshire




CAstle Hill B3022



The history of Windsor Castle, like the Tower of London, mirrors that of the history of England and needs very little introduction. The castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and Queen Elizabeth's favourite weekend home.

A magnificent castle and palace.

~ History ~

700's ~ The Saxon kings establish a Royal Manor and court at Old Windsor, called Windles-ora, from the winding course of the Thames and the Old English word 'ora' meaning bank.   


1066 ~ The Saxon King Harold, son of Godwin, holds court at Old Windsor Hillfort. 


Duke William 'the bastard' leads his Normans forces to victory over King Harold who is killed at the Battle of Hastings.

William the Conqueror is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in London the following year. 

1070 ~ William The Conqueror begins the building of a motte and bailey castle neat the River Thames as part of a chain of fortifications around London in order to subdue the defeated Saxons.

William's cheif architects are Robert, Lord Belleme and Gundalf, Bishop of Rochester.

1086 ~ Work is finally completed on the castle.

1087 ~ William theConqueror dies at Saint-Gervais near Rouen, France. William's son, William Rufus, is crowned King William II.

1095 ~ Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, having joined in the conspiracy against William Rufus, s taken prisoner, and languishes for thirty years in a dungeon at Windsor Castle.   


1097 ~ Work on the White Tower is completed and the inner ward of the Tower enclosed.


1100 ~ William Rufus is killed by an arrow in the New Forest whilst on a hunt. His brother Henry, who is part of the hunt, leaves his brother for dead and races of to be crowned King Henry I.


1102 ~ Robert de Bellême is involved in a rebellion against King Henry following the appararent murder of William Rufus. Further work on the castle is delayed.

1110 ~ King Henry I has domestic quarters andchapel built into the castle.

1127 ~ The  ceremony of King Henry's new Queen is repeated when Henry receives at Windsor the homage of the nobles of the land who, at the same time, swear allegiance to his daughter, the Empress Matilda.   

1170 ~ King Henry II begins the replacement of the timber outer fortications in stone along with rebuilding the keep.

1175 ~ King Henry II holds a Great Council (Parliament) at Windsor Castle.   


1190 ~ King Richard I places Windsor Castle under the care of Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, during his absence on Crusade.


1193 ~ King Richard's scheming younger brother John rebels during his absence. Windsor Castle comes led by William Marshal. The castle is surrendered into the hands of Eleanor, the Queen Mother.   


1215 ~ Following civil war with his barons, King John is forced to sign Magna Carta at Runnymede, in view of Windsor Castle. Later in the year King John breaks his oaths and war once again breaks out with his barons. 

1216 ~ King John is at Windsor when he hears of the invasion of the French Dauphin, Louis and the siege of Dover Castle. Windsor Castle comes under siege for three months by the rebel Barons and their French allies. The Castle successfully resists the siege which lasts more than two months, but is badly damaged by siege engines.


1220's ~ King John's son, King Henry III buids a complete set of fortifications round the Lower Ward.

The impressive rounded Towers on the South town ward side were added. The walls around the Castle are repaired as well as three more towers added in the Lower Ward.

1265 ~ The people of the City of London demonstrat against King Henry III for not complying to the Magna Carta. The Queen tries to escape the London mob by the River Thames and is attacked with stones. She returns to the Tower of London and eventually manages to reach Windsor. In retaliation the King deprives The City of London of all charters and privileges.


The Lord Mayor, FitzThomas, is summoned to Windsor with forty wealthy merchants with Royal assurance of safe conduct. They are imprisoned as soon as they arrive at Windsor. They are only released after a ransom of  20,000 marks is paid to the King. Mayor Fitzthomas is never seen again. 


A massive £21,000 is spent on the Windsor fortifications.


1275 ~ King Edward I makes Windsor Castle his family home. Four of his children are born in teh castle. He holds his Coronation Feast at the Castle.


1312 ~ Prince Edward, the future King Edward III is born at Windsor Castle. 


1327 ~ King Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son, Edward III. England is ruled by King Edward's Queen Isabella and her lover Mortimer. They have the King murdered at Berkeley Castle   


1330's ~  King Edward III pawns the Crown Jewels in order to pay his troops at the start of the Hundred Years War. The practice is forbidden after his reign.


1346 ~ King John II of France and King David II of Scotland are imprisoned in luxury in the Upper Ward of teh castle until they were ransomed.

1350's ~  Extensive building work is undertaken at the castle.


1381 ~ King Edward III's grandson King Richard II see's the Monarchy attacked by English peasants, led by Wat Tyler and John Bull. Most of the royals seeks refuge in the Tower of London but some escaped to Windsor Castle.


1413 ~ The Earl of March and Prince James (later King James I) of Scotland are imprisoned at Windsor Castle.

King Henry IV dies after suffering from leprosy and epilepsy.   


1536 ~ King Henry VIII has his Queen Anne Boleyn executed on Tower Hill. Within 24 hours of her execution, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII are formally betrothed. Later the same year they are married but Jane dies a premature death after giving birth to Henry's son. Queen Jane Seymour is buried at Windsor Castle


1547 ~ KingHenry VIII dies at Whitehall Palace and is buried at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.


1563 ~ The Black Death brakes out in London so Queen Elizabeth I moves her court to Windsor Castle where she erects gallows and orders that anyone coming from London is to be hanged.


1643 ~ Windsor Castle is seized from King Charles I by parliamentarians and remains in their hands throughout the Civil War. The castle buildings and rooms are damaged and the castle is used as a prison for Royalists.


1647 ~ King Charles I is imprisoned at Windsor Castle.


1649 ~ King Charles is beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London and is buried at St George's Chapel, at Windsor CAstle without ceremony or religious service.

A bill in parliament to demolish Windsor Castle is defeated by just one vote.


1778 ~ The Castle is in such a state of dilapidation  it is declared uninhabitable. The following year repairs begin on the castle.


1820 ~ King George III dies at Windsor Castle and is buried in St George's Chapel.

King George IV is responsible for the major changes to the Castle, in particular the raising of the famous Round Tower. He transforms the Castle into a palace at the enormous cost of £500,000.

1830 ~ King George IV dies at Windsor Castle and is buried in St George's Chapel.


1837 ~ King William IV dies at Windsor Castle and is buried in St George's Chapel.


1861 ~ Prince Albert dies of typhoid at Windsor and is buried in a spectacular mausoleum that Queen Victoria constructed at Frogmore in the Windsor Home Park


1901 ~ Queen Victoria is buried at Windsor in Frogmore Mausoleum beside her beloved Albert.


1910 ~ King Edward VII dies at Buckingham Palace and is buried at St George's Chapel.


1936 ~ King George V dies at Sandringham House, Norfolk and is buried St George's Chapel.

1972 ~ The abdicated King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor dies and is buried in the grounds of Frogmore House at Windsor Castle.