I have always been fascinated by the castles of Europe….I watch all the medieval movies I can see on TV and at the movies, imagining what life must have been like for the rich and noble families who lived in these vast, architectural fantasy world structures….It wasn’t just the kings and queens who had castles, all the barons and dukes and rich people had them too…Today we will check out a few famous castles in England, although the French, the Irish and the Scottish people also have beautiful castles in their countries built centuries ago and almost all are now available for tours….
Surprisingly, many of these castles are still around…Most of them were made of stone, and were surprisingly well crafted and originally built to withstand sieges from the enemy without, because medieval Europe was in a seemingly constant stage of petty warfare between rival claimants to the various available thrones and others who had designs and claims, some even legitimate, to nobility and thus many of these castles have endured throughout the centuries…
According to my Google sources: “The first thing a lot of people think about England is castles and medieval fortresses. There are many fine examples of castles dating back well over 500 years, Buckingham Palace is perhaps the most famous castle in England….
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every year.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 meters long across the front, 120 meters deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 meters high. The Palace is very much a working building and the centerpiece of Britain’s constitutional monarchy.
It houses the offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and their immediate family. The Palace is also the venue for great Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures, all of which are organized by the Royal Household.”
“Windsor Castle, in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world and, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, is the oldest in continuous occupation. The castle’s floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet (44,965 square meters). Together with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, it is one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining.
Most of the Kings and Queens of England, later Kings and Queens of Great Britain, and later still kings and queens of the Commonwealth realms, have had a direct influence on the construction and evolution of the castle, which has been their garrison fortress, home, official palace, and sometimes their prison.
The castle’s history and that of the British monarchy are inextricably linked. Chronologically the history of the castle can be traced through the reigns of the monarchs who have occupied it. When the country has been at peace, the castle has been expanded by the additions of large and grand apartments; when the country has been at war, the castle has been more heavily fortified. This pattern has continued to the present day.”
Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting interiors of Windsor castle, still impressive and awe inspiring to tourists today, especially in these days where we all often live in cramped quarters with roommates and family, either in homes or high rise apartment buildings……It is hard to imagine the sheer size, grace and stately grandeur of these opulent monuments to splendor and power, let alone the royalty who commissioned them and often had a strong hand in their eventual design…Imagine what it would be like to be the actual “lord of the manor” or “queen of the kingdom” of these lush, grandly appointed monuments to power, wealth and nobility!
“The Tower of London is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. The tower’s primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison (particularly for high status and royal prisoners, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I).
This last use has led to the phrase “sent to the Tower” (meaning “imprisoned”). It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armory, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.”
There are few amongst us who have not heard of the infamous Tower of London…It is prominently featured in the movie “Elizabeth” made in 1998 with Cate Blanchet in a stunning portrayal of royal life, intrigue, treachery and medieval power politics. If you would like a real taste of what it was like to be at court in the magnificent splendor of these architectural wonders, I urge you to see this movie…
The French were no slouches when it came to castles and palaces, especially the eccentric Louis XIV, who was known as the “Sun King” because of the splendor of his court at Versailles. Louis XIV believed himself to be an absolute ruler. His authority was inherited and derived from God. He was not accountable to anyone but his own conscience….. but space precludes more than a quick view of several stunningly beautiful French palace interiors….
The point is, everybody who was anybody back in the medieval times lived in a castle or a palace, and each monarch tried to outdo or improve upon his predecessor’s work….Tomorrow we will examine more of what daily life inside these larger than life examples of stately grandeur was really like….
For more information on Buckingham palace, see: http://www.royal.gov.uk/…/buckinghampala…
For more information and scenes of the interior palaces, check out:www.anglotopia.net › Anglophilia
For more stories by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com