"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on June 11, 2019 by Sioux under General
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A relief to wake and see relatively clear skies, knowing today was the start of my 60th birthday road-trip!

I took a cab to the airport and went off in search of Paul.

Once we met up, we arranged a transfer to the car hire company, and wheels sorted, bags safely stashed,

we set off for our first stop – Windsor Castle.

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From the river, we walked uphill to the

castle, and arrived in time to watch Changing the Guard parade!

 

We’d seen the event, in pouring rain, at Buckingham Palace, so seeing it in the sunshine, at a new venue was an

unexpected treat!

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One of the lesser known titles of a ruling English monarch is the “Seigneur of the Swans”, which basically means that legally, the monarch has a three-way joint ownership of all the unclaimed, unmarked mute swans in open water in England, but if a private individual has a pond they may keep and breed the birds legally.

 

In ancient times, owning swans signaled nobility, and were the medieval equivalent of flashing a Rolex or driving a Lamborghini. Eaten as a special dish at feasts, swans also served as a table centerpiece, still in their skin and feathers with a lump of blazing incense in the beak.

Finding a spot in a car park on a clear day in Windsor proved difficult, and we landed up quite some way from the castle, but close to the river Thames, where there were loads of swans, eagerly awaiting any little tidbits that may be on offer.

We didn’t go into the castle as the queues were long, and we had some travelling to do, so explored around the area, walked to Eton College, then back to the car and the road ahead, to Winchester, our 2nd stop and first sleep over.

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The bronze statue of Queen Victoria on Castle Hill was erected in 1887 in celebration of her Golden Jubilee. The base is made of red granite.

Building of Windsor Castle began around 1070, and was completed 16 years later. Initially constructed to guard the western approach to London, the castle was within easy access from the capital and oversaw a strategically important part of the River Thames. Its proximity to a royal hunting forest also made it an ideal location for a royal residence.

It was used as a refuge by the royal family during the Luftwaffe bombing campaigns of WW2, Windsor also survived a fire in 1992.

The walls were originally made of timber, but

were replaced with stone in the late 12th century.

 

The original Norman keep was rebuilt as the Round Tower in 1170. The castle was used as military headquarters by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War; and for much of Victoria’s reign, as a centre for royal entertainment.

A very popular tourist attraction, Windsor Castle is the preferred weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II. It is also the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The castles’ lavish early 19th-century State Apartments have been described as “a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste”.

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Queen Charlotte Street, the

shortest street in England, is a

mere 15.57m long. The quirky cobblestone pathway is centuries old and is right next to The Crooked House of Windsor, which was built in the late 1500s.

The quaint little house started leaning over the 18th century after it was rebuilt using wood that contracted. It was at one stage a lovely little tea-room and is now a souvenir and gift shop.

The Queen’s Walkway, marked by large decorative medallions in the paving, was officially opened in 2016 to mark the occasion of Queen Elizabeth 2 becoming Britain’s longest reigning monarch. The walk is 6.373km long for the 63 years, 7 months and 3 days she has reigned.

The building housing The Prince Harry, was built in 1518, and served as the first Guildhall in Windsor until it became an inn & public house in 1689.

 

There has been a pub on this site for almost 500 years and is one of the oldest establishments in the town.

From Queen Charlotte Street, we

meandered a bit, stopping in at St John
the Baptist church which is said 
to have
been established well before 
1110.


In 1168 it was responsible for the care of a local leper colony. In 1726 a school building was erected in the churchyard and is now used as a Masonic Lodge. A new church, built due to the high cost of repairing the old, was consecrated in 1822. The walls of the current building follow the plan of the medieval church and the vaults of the old church still lie beneath the floor. During building work, the old floor covered in grave slabs was revealed and lead coffins were discovered on shelves in the vaults beneath the ancient floor.

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A replica of the lion and floriated cross of Idonea de Audele, Abbess of Burnham from 1314-24 is mounted on the original stone grave marker, and embedded in the ground near the entrance. She was buried in the original building near to the present pulpit. The design is also repeated in the glass doors that lead into the church; which are the Royal borough’s war memorial to the fallen of WW2.

The representation of “The

Last Supper” that hangs in

the church gallery was

painted by Francis de Cleyn, given to St John the Baptist church in 1788.

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Heading back towards Eton, we passed by the statue of Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein, a grandson of Queen Victoria. Although German titled, he was considered a member of the British royal family and grew up in England and was the first member of the English Royal Family to attend school instead of being educated by a tutor at home.

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The Prince became a British Army officer after leaving Sandhurst Military College. In 1890 he fought in the Second Boer War in South Africa, being involved in the relief of Ladysmith as well as being in Pretoria, where he contracted malaria, and died of enteric fever. He is buried in a cemetery in Pretoria. The statue in Windsor was erected in his honour, and the plaque below details the 15 different titles, decorations and war medals bestowed upon him. 

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A bit further along the road is the King George V memorial

fountain. Built on the site of the former Windsor brewery

buildings, the memorial was unveiled in 1937, by King

George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father.

 

There is a small enclosed garden surrounding the simple and unassuming memorial, and once inside, the noise of the busy road seems to fade away. 

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We stopped on Windsor Bridge to admire the view, and watch the waterbirds. An iron and granite arch bridge over the River Thames, it joins the towns

of Windsor and Eton; and is used by pedestrian and cycle traffic only, vehicles having been banned from using it in 1970, due to cracks being

discovered in some of the cast iron segments.

 

History relates that the first bridge on this site was built in the 12th century AD, and by 1172 tolls were being levied on vessels passing beneath the structure. In 1242 oak trees were felled in Windsor Forest for construction of a new bridge and by 1819 the wooden bridge, presumably rebuilt many times over its life, had deteriorated and plans were made to build a new, stronger bridge. Construction on the current bridge started in 1822 and it opened in 1824. Tolls were originally levied on traffic crossing the bridge, but due to protest action, were scrapped in 1897. In 2002 the bridge was repaired and refurbished, but remains in use by pedestrians and cyclists only. It is an excellent walking route from central Windsor to Eton’s High Street, and a good viewing spot for both the river and the Castle.

The Eton Walk starts on the Eton side of the river, and is demarcated by large sunken bronze markers along the 3.5km circular route. There are 18 points of interest connected by the Walkway, including Princes William and Harry’s old school, Eton College. The markers are emblazoned with Eton’s coat of arms, given to the town by King Henry VI in 1449, and are possibly the oldest school arms still in use.

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We traipsed through the quaint streets of Eton, to the famous college, which unfortunately was closed to the public, so it was a view from the outside only.

The school was founded in 1441 by Henry IV and is one of the oldest boarding schools for boys in England. Kings and princes of England as well as 19 prime ministers have graduated from Eton.

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Despite hunting high and low, I couldn’t find any info on what this building is, but did find some interesting info on an old gas lamp structure outside the building, known as “Burning Bush”, it was originally a gas lamp converted to electricity in Victorian times.

I’ll have to go back to get some decent images of the lamp, and find out some history on the building!

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The day was drawing to a close so it was back to the car park, and off to Winchester.

 

On the way back we passed this sculpture known as the “Magnifying Glass Sculpture and Viewing Tower” – a very different way to view the surroundings!

An interesting day out – for me a 2nd visit as I had been here with my sister in 2007, but for Paul one of many firsts during this trip.

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