The Largest House in the World: Windsor Castle

With a floor area of about 45,000 square metres (480,000 sq ft), Windsor Castle is the largest house in the world. This historic castle is situated in the English county of Berkshire. Windsor Castle is the largest castle in the world and it is the oldest

With a floor area of about 45,000 square metres (480,000 sq ft), Windsor Castle is the largest house in the world. This historic castle is situated in the English county of Berkshire. Windsor Castle is the largest castle in the world and it is the oldest castle in continuous occupation. It has been in continuous occupation since the time of William the Conqueror. Windsor Castle with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, are the three main official residences of the British monarch. The British kings and queens during their respective tenures have in turn contributed to the construction and evolution of the historic royal house, Windsor Castle.

During times of peace, Windsor Castle was expanded with apartment blocks and during war, heavy fortifications were done as a security measure. During the 900 years of its existence, Windsor Castle has evolved a lot in tune with the requirements and tastes of the reigning monarchs. In spite of the changes that came to Windsor Castle with successive regimes, the fundamental features and structure of the castle have not changed.

image source       Windsor Castle's Upper Ward from the north west—The Quadrangle—not open to tourists

The Round Tower (A) is a visible landmark of the castle Windsor Castle. Though it is called Round Tower, it is not really round. It has a seemingly round shape. But it is irregular in shape in tune with the shape of the artificial hill on which it sits. The castle's layout dates back to the medieval fortifications. Windsor Castle has two distinct sections known as wards. This division is effected by the design of the Round Tower. The Lower Ward (F) contains St George's Chapel (G). The upper ward (B) is house to the private Royal Apartments (D). Also it contains the more formal state rooms (C). St George's Hall is situated here. It is a vast room. The ceiling of this room is decorated with the coats of arms of past and present members of the Order of the Garter.

image source          The Upper Ward from the south west

The Home Park is an important section of the Windsor Castle. The Home Park includes parkland and two working farms. There are also estate cottages which are mainly occupied by employees. The Frogmore House and Gardens which are inside the Home Park are open to the public on certain days of the year. The Home Park other than the Frogmore is not open to the public. The extensive Windsor Great Park lies close to the Home Park. The private school St George’s is situated to the north of the castle inside the Home Park.

image source     The Carved Unicorn - Queens Beast by Ben Harms

It was William the Conqueror who originally built Windsor Castle. He ruled from 1066 until his death in 1087. The original castle built by William was wooden and it stood on the site of the present Round Tower. The site was chosen because it was in an easily defensible position.

King Edward was born in the Windsor Castle and is often called "Edward of Windsor". In 1350,

image source         Badge of the House of Windsor

Edward initiated a 24-year rebuilding program of Windsor Castle. In consequence, the existing castle except the Curfew Tower was demolished. The Round Tower was replaced by the present keep and fortifications were made more elaborate. Edward III spent £51,000 on renovating Windsor Castle. This was the largest amount spent by an English medieval monarch on a single building renovation.

image source           Windsor Castle and the Thames

It was King Edward who began the construction of the present St. George's Chapel in 1475. The chapel is in fact a miniature cathedral. When Henry VII came to power, some part of the chapel of St. George was demolished. With the construction of the chapel, a new ambience came over the castle. The Wars of the Roses ended and there prevailed peace and stability. There was greater need for comfort and style than fortifications. Hence, there came over change in the look of the castle as a royal palace rather than a royal bastion.

It was Edward III who initiated the transformation of Windsor Castle from a fortress to a comfortable royal residence. It was Henry VIII who rebuilt the gateway of Windsor Castle in 1510. King Edward VI, the son and successor of Henry VIII, wrote while staying in the castle: "Methink I am in a prison, here are no galleries, nor no gardens to walk in."

image source        Ariel view of Windsor Castle

Significant changes came to the Windsor Castle with the Restoration in 1660. During the Civil War, Windsor Castle suffered severe damage and Charles II did much to restore the castle. However, after the death of Charles II, Windsor Castle was left neglected. Later, King George III, the father of 15 children, needed a larger residence and the castle was once again fully inhabited. The greatest single transformation of Windsor Castle in its history took place during the reign of King George IV (1820–1830). The cost of the restoration work was around £300,000.

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