Short breaks Hungerford

You might find this local information useful. History of Windsor Castle

Berkshire-Windsor Castle William the Conqueror chose the site of History of Windsor Castle at 'New Windsor' - taking the name from the 'Old Windsor' which was used by the Saxon Kings. The history starts with the wooden Windsor Motte and Bailey Castle which was the first of nine castles built around London. Henry II built a stone curtain wall around the castle and the first stone Round Tower of Windsor Castle was built inside the reinforced Shell walls on the original mound between 1160 - 1179. After the Norman Conquest of 1066, King William began to construct a ring of nine castles to protect London. The original wooden motte and bailey structure at Windsor was the first of these defences to be built.

During the reign of King Henry II, (1154 1189) a stone curtain wall was erected around the castle and the first Round Tower was built within the wall.

After the signing of the Magna Carta at nearby Runnymede in 1215, Windsor Castle was damaged after undergoing 2 sieges. The castle was repaired and fortified by King Henry III between 1220 and 1230. Windsor Castle was an important retreat for the English monarchy who often found themselves out of favour with the masses. Throughout the castle's history, Kings and Queens improved it and added additional fortifications to ensure their safety.

History moved on and when the Bubonic Plague broke out in London in 1563, Queen Elizabeth I moved her court to History of Windsor Castle where she erected gallows and ordered that anyone coming from London was to be hanged! Elizabeth enjoyed the plays of Shakespeare and requested William Shakespeare to write another play featuring Falstaff - he wrote the 'Merry Wives of Windsor' which was first printed in 1602. In the Iron age we believe that Windsor marked the eastern edge of the Atrebates tribal boundary. There is little evidence of Roman occupation (55AD to 410AD) in Windsor. However a settlement grew to the west of the great rock and the village of Clewer evolved. There was a ferry here, but no evidence of a bridge. The name Clewer may well have Roman origin. The nearest Roman Road was that which ran between Calleva (Silchester) and Londinium (London). Its course included a river crossing at Staines about 5 miles downstream. This does not mean Windsor was ignored by the Romans. Archaeology in town has revelaved a number of finds from the Roman period.

Windsor Castle was besieged in 1193 for 2 months by barons who were opposing Prince John's attempted coup. Some years later John became king and just a few months after signing the Magna Carta at Runnymede, he was again besieged at Windsor by the barons, this time for 3 months.History tells us that in 1236 five oak trees were required to repair the wooden bridge at Windsor. This bridge lasted until 1822 when it was replaced by the present cast iron structure.

Elizabeth I was followed by James I, and he by his son Charles I, neither of whom made significant changes to the castle. However, following the deposition of Charles in the English Civil War, the castle became the headquarters of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. Windsor Castle fell to Cromwell's Parliamentarians early in the hostilities due to the cunning of Colonel John Venn. Prince Rupert of the Rhine arrived to retake the town and castle a few days later, but though he severely battered the town, he was unable to retake the castle. Venn remained Governor of the castle until 1645. Under Parliamentarian jurisdiction the castle suffered, but not as badly as such an iconic symbol of monarchy could have been expected to. However, the garrison stationed there was underpaid and was allowed to loot the castle's treasures. For the duration of the Commonwealth period, the castle remained a military headquarters, and a prison for more important Royalists captured. For a short time prior to his execution in 1649, Charles was imprisoned in the castle, although in today's terminology house arrest would be a more accurate term. Following the King's execution, Britain was ruled by Cromwell until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Charles' body was smuggled back to Windsor in the dead of night through a snowstorm to be interred without ceremony in the vault beneath the choir in St George's Chapel, next to the coffins of Henry VIII and his wife Jane Seymour.