Over 900 years ago William the Conqueror chose a site, high above the river Thames on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground to build the great Windsor Castle. It became the home of generations of Royals and is still the weekend retreat of Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, Windsor is the largest occupied castle in the world—and it’s a good thing because word has it that this huge castle houses ghosts of past kings and queens. Yes, Windsor Castle is a bit scary.
The first famous Windsor ghost was King Henry VIII. Buried at Windsor Castle, King Henry has been heard moaning over his ulcerated leg as he limps through the Cloisters. One of his wives, Anne Boleyn, has actually been seen peering through the Cloister window.
King Richard II had a favorite huntsman who actually saved him from being trampled by a stag. Herne the Hunter is often seen following his pack of hounds in the Castle’s Great Park. They say he has giant stag antlers protruding from his head.
Herne’s antlers is a good segue to another scary Windsor resident—the demonic horned being whose appearance brings misfortune to anyone who has the bad luck of coming upon him. He seems to prefer the garden to the castle.
Scary or not, Windsor Castle is an official residence of Queen Elizabeth. As a child, Elizabeth with her sister Margaret Rose lived safely at Windsor during World War II. These days Elizabeth stays at her Berkshire castle often.
Windsor may be scary, but it is still worth a visit. You can tour the State Apartments (each reflects the tastes of the 39 monarchs who occupied them), the Great Kitchen, the lavishly decorated Semi-State Rooms and the beautiful gardens. A special highlight of your visit is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest and most famous dolls’ house in the world. Don’t miss St. George’s Gothic Chapel. It is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of British Chivalry.
Be brave, Windsor may or may not be scary. Go and find out.
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