The stunning towns of Windsor and Eton have been around for many centuries and it is no surprise that the area is full of some rich and interesting historical tales. It is now home to the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, but Windsor started out as a small Saxon town which grew quickly thanks to its idyllic position on the River Thames. Delve deep into the history of Windsor with our best bits of Windsor across the years:
Windsor has been a hub for Royals for thousands of years, after William the Conqueror took the town as his property back in the 9th century. He built a mound with a stockade in about 1070, which was then replaced the famous stone Round Tower by Henry II. Many monarchs continue to build on the Royal residence in Windsor including Henry III, Edward III, Charles II and George IV, eventually creating the wonderful Windsor Castle that we know and love today. The castle has been home to the Royal library for a number of years and contains priceless pieces of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelango, Raphael and many more. A fire destroyed a large amount of the upper ward of the castle in 1992, but luckily most of the paintings and furniture was saved. More than 100 rooms, including St. George’s Hall, were destroyed in the fire and successfully restored in 1997.
Taking Centre Stage
Today Windsor is home to the fabulous Theatre Royal Windsor, offering a wide repertoire of first class productions to locals and tourists. The first recorded date in the theatrical history of Windsor is 1706, where an actor names Yates opened a booth and assumed the heroic role of Alexander the Great. Between 1778 and 1793 a small barn on the outskirts of the town was used as the playhouse, and even for sold out performances the theatre only made about £25 per performance. This simple barn was referred to by playbills as the Theatre Royal, Peacod Street, Windsor. In 1793 a brand new theatre was built on the High Street and the opening play was attended by George III. This theatre was sold in 1805, much to the disgust of locals, and converted into a chapel. Citizens of Windsor worked hard to raise the £6000 needed to build a brand new theatre in the existing site, which opened in 1815. This new theatre ran a booming trade but was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1908. The building that stands proud as Theatre Royal Windsor today was completed in 1910 and has been entertaining the people of Windsor and Eton ever since.
An Etonian Education
Back in 1440, King Henry VI founded “Kynge’s College of Our Ladye of Eton beside Windsore” as an establishment to provide free education to 70 poor boys who would then go on to King’s College in Cambridge. Twenty years on, Edward IV took charge and moved many of the school’s assets and treasures to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The building of the college was stopped quickly and due to the reduced funds couldn’t continue until 1517. The building first started operating as a school in the 16th century and provided a regimented life for its pupils. The school grew quickly and by 1766 there were thirteen houses for pupils to reside. Eton College grew steadily until the 1970s when it reached its current size of roughly 1300 boys. In 2002 rules were changed so all boys must win their places through interviews, testing and references, as opposed to being entered on house lists at birth.
Homes of High Society
Sir Christopher Wren has a hugely successful architect, renowned for work on St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Observatory and over 50 beautiful churches. His father was Dean of Windsor from 1635 to 1658, making Windsor the home town of your Christopher. His local legacy lives on at Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa, which comprises several historical buildings on Thames Street in Windsor. The Thames House at Sir Christopher Wren Hotel was owned by the Cheshire family in the 18th century and was the centre of a lively social scene, and was then passed through few more local families and owners. In the 1920s it first became a hotel called the Riverholme Restaurant and Guest House, and then had various owners until 2011 when it was purchased by Sarova Hotels. Sarova Hotels undertook an extensive refurbishment to preserve the buildings historic features and make it suitable for today’s travellers.
If you’re planning a trip to Royal Windsor, stay in the midst of its colourful history at Sir Christopher Wren Hotel. Book direct to receive a free drink of your choice during your stay, and if you book more than 5 days in advance you can save 15%.
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