Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Windsor Castle

Last weekend the weather was terrible, so we decided to head down to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is a convenient 45 minute train ride from Putney, and when we got there the weather was very atmospheric -- it was pouring down.

While we waited for the rain to stop, we had roast dinner for lunch at a pub looking up at the castle's Round Tower. It looked ominously at us through the gloom. By the time we had finished and made our way up, the rain had mostly stopped. We had the castle mostly to ourselves on account of the weather, and got to waltz past all the markers indicating that the line would take 45 minutes from this point.

The first stop was the Dolls' House. This was a gift for Queen Mary, and is essentially a miniature mansion. There are dozens of small rooms, each individually furnished, and apparently both the electricity and the plumbing work. The house was meant to be as state-of-the-art as possible in the 1920s, and one of the proud features was the vacuum cleaner tucked away in a small room.

Next, there was a temporary exhibition on King Henry VII. This wasn't nearly as exciting as the Tower of London's: there were no shiny suits of armour that you could watch grow larger and larger over the years. Instead, there were a number of portraits of people from the time, like Anne Boleyn, and interesting artifacts like a diary with her handwriting.

Once we got through this, we toured the State and Semi-State Rooms. These were all naturally very impressive, as their main job is to impress visiting dignitaries. There were millions of decorative items from Britain's former days of Empire, with swords criss-crossing up the walls, and polished helmets and guns in display cases; there were splendid bedrooms with lovely artwork, and there were over the top entertaining rooms which had been rebuilt after the fire of 1992.

The highlight of the interior was St George's Hall, which is where State dinners are held. The room is covered with miniature shields of the Knights of the Garter -- including our own Edmund Hillary -- and features blanked out shields for naughty knights that were struck off. One interesting fact: when they set the table for dinner, they use a ruler to ensure everything lines up. Otherwise it just looks a mess, apparently.

Unfortunately, you can't take any photos of the inside. But, we do have some photos of the dark and damp day outside. If you are observant, you may see Brendan and Chris in some.

Windsor Castle

Very Green Grass

All photos are available here.

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