London is a large capital but the main points of interest are gathered downtown. A few tens of kilometers from the center, at least three other visits deserve the trip : Windsor, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court !
The royal castle was changed throughout the centuries from the 11th to the 19th century. It is still occasionally inhabited by the royal family. Partially destroyed by a great fire in 1992, it has since been restored.
The interior is superb with particularly :
- the grand staircase
- Waterloo Room
- St. George's Hall with the arms of knights who served the Order of the Garter. Some were covered with white paint : they are coats of arms of knights stripped of their rank. The Order of the Garter was founded in Windsor in 1348 by Edward III during the hundred years war. The motto in old French is "Honni qui mal y pense" that can be translated by "shame upon him who thinks evil upon it". That would be the sentence that the king would have pronounced while picking up the garter a countess would have lost at a dance. The order, consisting of 25 knights (since its creation...) still exists.
- the king's room with a beautiful canopy bed
It is an amusement park (a bit expensive : ┬ú35 in 2007).
These are very large botanical gardens where you can discover tropical greenhouses, a small aquarium, a pagoda, floral zones and even a lake. Have a look at the gallery.
The Tudor-style castle is built along the Thames. King Henry VIII appropriated it to the detriment of his owner who was a cardinal.
Pictures are forbidden inside the buildings where we can see :
- the kitchens
- Gregorian rooms
- the apartments of the Tudors. The large hall is decorated with hunting trophies but the carved ceiling and the stained glass windows hold the attention.
- the apartments of the Queen
- the apartments of the King (beautiful frescoes in the staircase of the entrance)
- the Royal chapel
Outside, we can see :
- the clock tower which has an astronomical clock created in 1540 for Henry VIII
- remarkable Tudor chimneys with original shapes.
- the fountain courtyard
- the maze in the hedges (I have no pictures... )
- the great vine
- a short rackets court. With luck, you can watch a game.
Finally, do not forget to take a look at the program : at certain times, we can discuss or make a visit with costumed guides !