11 Jul An unforgettable experience at Windsor Castle
Written by Alesha and Aarool – Year 7 Young Reporters
Have you ever thought about visiting the largest castle in the world? The most majestic castle in the world? The most regal, yet still inhabited castle in the world? Yep! That’s right, on Friday 28th July, 40 pupils got the chance to experience the one and only Windsor Castle, thanks to the team at the Windsor Castle Learning Centre.
It was our first trip to the famous castle, and our journey began bright and early at 8 am, when we boarded our bright yellow coach, and clung tightly to our seats, eager and ready to soak up the historical atmosphere that awaited us. Did you know that Windsor Castle is a favourite home of the Queen? Wow!
We were given a warm welcome by the staff (Lesley and Helen) as we stepped off our coach and into the sunshine. They hurriedly ushered our party into the reception building, where we were immediately struck by a scaled model of the castle. It looked so intricate and beautiful compared to the buildings we see everyday in Coventry, and even though it was only a model, it whetted our appetites to press on with our visit.
Shortly afterwards, we left our bags and launched straight into action to explore the castle. First up was a tour of the castle’s motte, where there was a glorious garden of neatly cut grass and rare flowers blooming. There was even a small waterfall streaming down gracefully behind the exquisitely colourful plants! Then we marched our way to see the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony in the Lower Ward. Strong and upbeat royal music was performed by the guards, in a perfect orchestra! Notes from instruments including trumpets, recorders, drums and banjos flooded across the enormous open space for the visitors, like ourselves, to enjoy.
Departing from the Changing of the Guard area, we went to St George’s Chapel. As soon as we walked through the door of the Nave, our eyes were drawn to the magnificent medieval Gothic structures on display. This was the ground where; in May 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married. This was also where King George V and Henry VI were buried.
Do you know that….
The Chapel has over 500 years of history
It had originally been made a place of worship for the Order of the Garter: a band of knights that began in Windsor, by Edward III more than 660 years ago!
From the other side of the Chapel, and still deep in thought about the Chapel’s history, we took some time to stand near the Sovereign’s Stall. Songs from a small choir of primary school children echoed throughout the building. We walked by the Tomb of King George V and Queen Mary, and stood there for a while. It was fascinating to know that this place had seen royal marriages and funerals going back hundreds of years.
Following the flow of many other tourists, we walked through the Quire, knowing that up in the high wall was the ‘Oriel Window’, created by King Henry VIII, so that services held in the Quire could be viewed by his first wife Katherine of Aragon!
Do you know that…
In the centre of the Quire is the ledger stone marking the burial place of King Henry VIII and King Charles I?
Jane Seymour, one of the wives of King Henry VIII, is also buried there.
It was now time to explore the Bailey, where we found a gift shop! We found pencils, rubbers and even fluffy toys waiting to be bought and used by the tourists who visit the Castle. By midday, we were making our way towards the ‘State Apartments’, which was situated in the Upper Ward (Bailey). This building looms over the Thames, built by King Henry VIII, and is currently used by the Queen to welcome guests, however, we were not lucky enough for the Queen to be present there!
Soon we joined in the workshop ‘After 1066, what happened next?’ run by a lovely member of staff called Sophie. She talked about the long history of the castle (more than 900 years), including when the castle was first built by William the Conqueror. Some of us even got to wear clothes and garments fit for Kings, Knights and Popes!
We then visited St. George’s Hall, which was built to honour the ‘Knights of the Garter’. The roofs and walls were decorated with the Knights’ personal shields and weaponry. However, we found it fascinating to know that some of the shields and belongings had been removed. This was because some knights had committed treason, and no longer deserved to be honoured! We proceeded to the Lantern Lobby, which left everyone flabbergasted. Gold plates and artefacts filled the room, including King Henry VIII’s personal armour (we could tell from the large bulge in the belly area). Did you know this is where the last fire of Windsor Castle started? Many artefacts were scarred by the fire, including a huge green urn, which was too heavy to move in a hurry. It was covered in cracks and discoloured.
After a long tour in the hot sunshine, it was time for a much needed ice cream break before we headed home. Our party stood in the Learning Centre debating over which flavour tasted the best (in our opinion it was mango sorbet).
The resonance of the day, the laughter we shared, the smiley faces of the Windsor staff, and all the adults we met at the castle will stay with us for a long time. We now know precisely why the castle was built in Windsor (on a hill, next to the River Thames and near a forest) and 20 miles away from the Tower of London!
We want to send our thanks to the amazing staff at the Windsor Castle Learning Centre, who made the trip possible for us all.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward