Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Windsor Castle

About three weeks ago, I went to Windsor Castle, a trip organized by Boston University. Windsor Castle is one of the Queen's main residences and the one she considers "home." Moreover, this is where the House of Windsor found its name. Before WWI, Queen Elizabeth's last name was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. But after WWI, it was thought that the last name sounded too Germany, so the royal family was asked to changed its last name. Ultimately, they chose Windsor because it sounds more English.

The castle has an incredibly long history dating back to the 11th century. What used to be a medieval fortress with a donjon is transformed into a royal palace. During the visit, I went through all of the areas opened to the public. Within the Castle, no photos are allowed so you just have to believe me when I say it's pretty amazing. (Sadly, while thinking back, I can't remember much of what I saw.) There were tons of gold, silver, porcelain, and paintings, of course.

This is St. George's Chapel which is within the grounds of the castle. Many royal wedding took place here and many famous people are buried here as well. Jane Seymour, Henry VIII's favorite wife, is buried here.

The donjon is the oldest part of the castle. The hill that it sits on is man-made so that there will be a good view of the surrounding area in case enemies attacked. Even today, you can still a remnant of a moat. The ditch is still there but there is no more water. It's been converted into something resembling a garden.

Changing of the guard.

Just outside of the castle is a statue of Queen Victoria. This was the meeting point for our tour guide to take us to Eton College. Our tour guide was this little tiny lady with really dry skin and three backpacks/messenger bags. When we were touring the castle on our own (she couldn't guide us in there), she went grocery shopping. She pretty much looked like a homeless person and the two additional grocery bags didn't help with her appearance. Nonetheless, she was a great guide.

A very crooked house next to, what is thought to be, the shortest street in the UK. Charming eh?

After a walk next to many antique shops, we arrived at Eton College which is across a river. I posted a panorama picture of Eton College earlier and wrote a little bit about it. The statue in the picture is King Henry VI who founded this private boarding school in 1441. Because of its centuries old history, there are tons of traditions to be followed at the school. School boys wear these elaborate uniforms with long coat tails. They also wear badges to identity which dorm they live in. It's like Harry Potter almost. There is also a group of boys who enters the school as "King's Scholars." They scored the highest on their entrance exam and is rewarded a scholarship. In addition, they receive special privileges such as being able to wear a more special coat than the others, play this weird sport in their first year when others have to wait till their last year, and eat in special areas.

There is also a great emphasis on seniority. Older school boys tutor younger students while younger boys do things for the older boys like cook dinner, clean their dorms. (All these facts are only true if my memory isn't failing me, and I have a feeling my memory is failing me.)

Students who are admitted to King's College at the University of Cambridge are allowed to carve their names into the window shutters. There are seemingly countless names. I thought the carvings are a bit haunting because you can tell that they look extremely old. This is also the oldest part of the school. After 600 years of continuous operation, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a handful of ghosts on campus.

I think this is one of their classrooms. Isn't it amazing? I love the pale blue patina of the dome.


sheryl said...

you should have taken a picture of your tour guide. duh !

Amy said...

wow! those buildings are amazing!