Tag Archives: castle

Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle

Did you know that you can see the Changing of the Guard far more close up than at Buckingham Palace?  Head to Windsor Castle where you can watch the lead up to the ceremony for free outside the castle or the entire event inside the majestic structure.  If you want to watch for free, the guards parade up Sheet St., march up High St., and file into the castle in approximately 10 minutes.  Standing on the elevated steps of the Guildhall will give you a great vantage point.

Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle

However, I highly recommend touring the castle and watching the ceremony there.  Purchase a ticket to get inside the walls of the Queen’s sprawling home, and then you’ll be able to watch the entire, approximately 30 minutes-long Changing of the Guard Ceremony.  It usually takes place in the Lower Ward outside of the guardroom. The guards will enter the castle through the Henry VIII Gate. If you want to find the absolutely best spot, ask a uniformed warden to give you a suggestion.  Alternatively, try standing by the railings outside St. George’s Chapel. When I was there several years ago, I couldn’t believe how close the guards were! It was much more thrilling than watching the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

However, be aware that if the Queen is in residence (check to see if the Royal Standard is flying above the Round Tower), the ceremony will take place on the lawn of the Quadrangle.  In that case, the guard will enter through St. George’s Gate and march all the way up Castle Hill. I recommend claiming a spot near the railings at Engine Court.

Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle

Wherever you choose to watch the ceremony, it’s extremely important to note that the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle is weather dependent and only occurs on certain days that change each month.  Before you go, check the schedule at www.householddivision.org.uk.  In addition, if you want to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony inside the castle, arrive no later than 10:00AM to get through security and find a good spot from which to watch.  You’ll have an amazing view no matter where you’re standing and will create a travel experience that you won’t soon forget!

Guardsman at Windsor Castle

Glamis Castle: Birthplace and Residence of British Royalty in Scotland

Glamis Castle was the childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Glamis Castle GardensQueen Mother, and the birthplace of Her Royal Highness the late Princess Margaret.  The Queen Mother’s parents were both Lord and Lady Glamis and Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Glamis Castle has been the seat of the Lyon Family since 1372, and many larger than life figures have stayed at the castle, including Mary QueGlamis Castle en of Scots and King James I.  Today’s visitors tour the beautiful and historic state rooms, including the royal apartments of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II’s parents), and hear the story of the murder of the Scottish King Malcolm III who died at that castle in 1034. He was succeeded by his son Malcolm who was, in turn, killed nearby in battle by his cousin Macbeth.  Sound familiar? These local historical events inspired Shakespeare to make Glamis Castle the legendary home of Macbeth.

Glamis Castle is considered to be one of the most haunted castles in all of the United Kingdom.  One of the specters who Glamis Castle lives at the castle is a pageboy who sits outside the late Queen Mother’s sitting room.  According to medieval legend, on one of the coldest nights of the year, everyone went to bed but forgot to dismiss the little boy from his seat.  He supposedly froze to death there, and it’s said that his ghost frequents the spot and likes to trip people who walk by. Another ghostly tale at the castle involves a secret chamber in which the second Lord of Glamis and his enemy were playing cards and gambling all through the evening and late into the night. After being begged to stop by servants, who were worried that it was the Sabbath, the two lords supposedly brushed them off by saying, “iGlamis Castle Gardensf we have a mind to, we shall play until Doomsday”.  The next morning a stranger appeared at the castle to confront them, and many claimed it was the devil himself who told them that “doomsday has come for both of you“ and took their souls. Tradition states that if you listen at the walls of the secret room at midnight on Saturdays you can hear the two lords crying and shuffling their fateful deck of cards. Perhaps, the most pitiful ghost at Glamis is the Grey Lady who is said to haunt the chapel. She was the wife of the sixth lord of the castle and died after being victimized by King James V of Scotland, who hated her family and wanted the castle for himself.  The king had her two young sons imprisoned and had her tried for, convicted of, an executed for witchcraft. She was burned alive at the stake in 1537, and since then, has been seen entering, sitting, and praying in the castle’s chapel. The Grey Lady is the most frequently seen spirit at the castle.

 

If you visit Glamis Castle, be sure to stop and spend some time with the adorable Highland cattle located near the car park.

Location of Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is located just outside the village of Angus, Scotland, approximately 20 minutes from Dundee, 45 minutes from St. Andrews, or 1.5 hours from Edinburgh.  If you’re traveling between Aberdeen and Edinburgh or if you’re spending time in St. Andrews, Glamis Castle makes an excellent stop or a lovely side trip for a few hours.  For specific directions to Glamis, click the map below.

 

 

 

Warwick Castle: A Historic Medieval Adventureland

Warwick CastleWarwick Castle brings history alive to its visitors with many exciting and interactive exhibits and attractions.  Guests can tour the opulent castle Warwick Castleinteriors, explore the dungeons where live actors and special effects bring gory tales to life, experience what preparing for medieval battle was like during the days of Warwick the Kingmaker, join the Countess of Warwick (in mannequin form) to see a Victorian high society weekend at the castle, participate in numerous children’s activities including a Princess Tower fairy tale, climb the towers and ramparts, and take part in a multimedia journey through 1,100 years of history.  There’s something for everyone in the entire family at Warwick Castle.

 

Warwick CastleWarwick Castle also has some incredible siege weapons on display including this ballista, a large catapult used for firing arrows or stones.  Even more impressive is Warwick Warwick CastleCastle’s trebuchet, which is the largest reconstructed siege weapon in the world.  Trebuchets were designed to hurl giant projectiles at castle walls to attempt to demolish them, or at least to make holes large enough to allow foot soldiers to storm the fortress.  Large rocks and stones were the usual projectiles of choice, but dead animals and manure were also used in the hopes of spreading disease among the besieged garrison and forcing them to surrender.  If you visit Warwick Castle, you can see a trained crew fire the giant trebuchet, from a safe distance of course.  Believe me, it’s a site not to be missed!

Warwick Castle

During your visit, you can also tour the extensive gardens, including, my favorite, the peacock garden!  Although formal gardens have existed at Warwick Castle since at least 1576, when Queen Elizabeth I visited, the famous peacock garden was designed by the Victorian landscape gardener Robert Marnock.  The castle has over 20 peacocks wandering the gardens, bearing their name, among manicured hedges, fountains, ponds, and topiary peacock sculpture.  Explore this and over 64 acres of landscaped grounds at Warwick Castle.

 

Location

Warwick Castle is located just 40 minutes, by car or rail, outside of Birmingham, U.K.  Click on the map below for specific directions.

Warwick Castle