Facts About Windsor Castle for Kids
Originally built by King William I in the decade following the Battle of Hastings, today Windsor Castle is the largest castle still in use by a reigning monarch. Several monarchs have added onto William’s original castle over history, with more towers, walls, and buildings added. While Queen Elizabeth II tends to prefer Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, it is still a functioning royal home. So what interesting facts can we find within its walls?
Windsor Castle’s grounds cover 52, 609 square metres or 13 acres and has 1, 000 rooms. Despite the Queen not living there continually, as an active royal home it still requires 150 staff members for its upkeep, making it the largest residential castle in the world. Between 2010 and 2011, at least one million visitors toured Windsor Castle.
We Don’t Need No Water
The castle caught fire on 20 November 1992. Approximately 20% of the castle was destroyed and it took 1.5 million gallons of water and 15 hours to put out. The fire started in Queen Victoria’s private chapel and destroyed the State Dining Room and the Crimson Drawing Room as well as the ceilings of St. George’s Hall and the Grand Reception Room. The restoration cost nearly £40 million.
During the Blitz, the windows of the castle were blacked out and many of the treasured artefacts and other works of art were removed to prevent them from being lost. Additionally, the royal family slept in Windsor Castle during the war, while the public was led to believe they remained in residence at Buckingham Palace.
Rumours and Myths
It has been long believed that the sculptor who created the copper horse at the end of the Long Walk killed himself in shame because he forgot to put stirrups on the horse, but he actually lived until his 70s. It was also believed that when Sir Christopher Wren built the Guildhall building, he made sure the centre columns didn’t touch the ceiling.
Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, were big fans of the castle and would stay there regularly. Henry was buried in Lady Chapel and Elizabeth felt the castle could withstand a siege if necessary.
A Kitchen Fit for a King (or Queen)
The Great Kitchen has served 32 monarchs and is the oldest working kitchen in the country. It is served by 33 kitchen staff, 20 chefs and sous chefs, 3 pastry chefs, and 10 porters. The clocks in the kitchen are always five minutes fast to ensure that food never arrives late. Additionally, the whisk in the kitchen can hold 250 eggs and there are at least 18, 000 bottles of wine in the cellar.
While it was built by William I, Henry I was the first to use it as a residence and replaced the wooden keep and walls with stone. His grandson, Henry II, upgraded the walls further and added another stone keep.
The castle’s artefacts weren’t the only things moved during World War II. The deer that inhabited Windsor Great Park were moved to Balmoral so that the park could be used for agricultural purposes in aid of the war effort.
One of King Henry II’s additions to the castle was the Round Tower, which sits on an artificial hill (or motte) in the center of the middle ward. Under the order of King George IV, architect Jeffry Wyattville extended the tower’s height by 30 feet as the king thought it would improve the skyline of the castle. Although it appears cylindrical, it isn’t quite due to the motte beneath it.
St. George’s Chapel was one of the improvements made by King Edward III and it is the Mother Church of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry and the third highest honour in the United Kingdom. Membership is limited to the Sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and no more than 24 persons (referred to as Companions).