Windsor Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Palace (Royal)

There are major building remains

NameWindsor Castle
Alternative NamesWindesores; Wildesore; Windlesores
Historic CountryBerkshire
Modern AuthorityWindsor & Maidenhead
1974 AuthorityBerkshire
Civil ParishWindsor

England's largest castle and a royal palace, covering some 13 acres. The castle dates back to William the Conqueror but the first stone buildings were erected by Henry II between 1165 and 1179. The round keep stands on an artificial motte and there are baileys known as the Lower, Middle and Upper Wards. Continuos additions since this time with particular activity following the foundation of the Order of the Garter by Edward III in 1348, the ensuing St George's Chapel of 1475-1511; and extensive rebuilding for Charles II by Hugh May. The present aspect of the Castle largely results from the alterations, additions and restorations carried out by James Wyatt and Sir Jeffry Wyatville circa 1800 to 1830, with further work carried out by Blore and Salvin in Queen Victoria's reign. Dominant cliff-top setting. The circular 'theatre' in the inner ward, of which some remnants were found by Time Team, was a short lived feature. The work of Edward III was extensive and complex but remarkably restrained without much 'fussy' detail, apparently an aesthetic choice by the king.

The castle was originally constructed as a motte and bailey, by William the Conqueror during the 1070s-80s, as part of a chain of defences designed to protect London. It comprises a motte with a large bailey on either side. Henry I used the castle as a royal residence and it became a palace during the reign of Henry II. The collegiate chapel of St Edward the Confessor, which stood East of the Chapel of St George,was collegiate from circa 1130-1348, when it was replaced by St George's Chapel. A hospital and chantry chapel were associated with the secular colleges, but an almshouse provided for in Edward IV's will was probably not created. Henry II was responsible for the first major programme of rebuilding in 1165-71 when parts were rebuilt in stone. Further rebuilding took place during the reign of Henry III when the castle became one of three principle royal palaces

Additions to the castle during the reign of Edward III included the rebuilding in Gothic style of the Lower and Upper Wards. St George's Chapel was built in the reign of Edward IV. A major programmme of rebuilding took place after the Civil War, from 1660 to 1685 which included the construction of the State Apartments and rebuilding of the Upper Ward in baroque style. Further alterations also took place in the 1780s-90s. Alterations between 1823-35 included the raising of the Round Tower by 30 feet, and rebuilding of all external facades of the Upper Ward in Gothic style. Minor alterations to the castle took place thoughout Queen Victorian's reign. Parts of the castle, including St George's Hall, the Private chapel and Brunswick Tower were damaged by fire in 1992. A programme of restoration was completed in 1997. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The castle was not built on the site of the Saxon royal palace (at Old Windsor) but some distance away on an isolated ridge overlooking the Thames, although, significantly it took the Windsor name. Indeed the site was not even a royal holding. Its development as the prime royal palace was complex and long and the Great Park was not linked to the castle by directly owned royal land until the reign of Victoria. Often the hunting lodges in the Great Park were the preferred medieval royal residence, with the castle being used for administration and as ancillary accommodation. However the surrounding medieval landscape was rich with high status buildings and institutions including many hunting lodges and Eton College, directly across the Thames.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU969770
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Copyright Nick Warner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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  • < >Brindle, S., Priestly, S. and Kerr, B., (forthcoming autumn 2017), Windsor Castle A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace (Royal Collection Trust) (promises to be be 'the' supplement to St John Hope and will certainly be more available) < >
  • Anthony Emery, 2016, Seats of power in Europe during the Hundred Years War: an architectural study from 1330 to 1480 (Oxbow Books) p. 31-43
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
  • Worssam, B., 2010, 'The building stones of the lower ward of Windsor Castle', in N. Saul and T. Tatton-Brown (eds), St George's Chapel, Windsor: history and heritage (Wimborne Minster: Dovecote Press) p. 15-24
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 176, 324, 331
  • Kerr, B., 2008, 'Windsor Castle: destruction and salvage' in L. Rakoczy (ed), Archaeology of destruction (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing) p. 152-75
  • Munby, Julian, Barber, Richard and Brown, Richard, 2007, Edward III's Round Table at Windsor - The House of the Round Table and the Windsor Festival of 1344 (Boydell and Brewer)
  • Richardson, A., 2007, ''The King's Chief Delights': A Landscape Approach to the Royal Parks of Post-Conquest England' in Liddiard, R. (ed) The Medieval Park new perspectives (Windgather Press) p. 27-48
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 192-208
  • Brindle, Steven and Priestley, Stephen, 2005 'Edward III's building campaigns at Windsor and the employment of masons, 1346-1377' in Saul, Nigel (ed.), St. George's Chapel Windsor in the fourteenth century (Woodbridge: Boydell)
  • Keen, L. and Scarff, E. (eds), 2002, Windsor, Medieval Archaeology, Art and Architecture of the Thames Valley (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 25) (collection of papers including Christopher Wilson 'The Royal Lodgings of Edward III at Windsor Castle')
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22-31
  • Keevill, Graham D., 2000, Medieval Palaces, An Archaeology (Stroud; Tempus) p. 16, 18, 27-9, 34, 40, 48-9, 53-4, 58, 73, 77, 83, 102-5, 113, 124-5, 127, 135, 141-2, 145-6, 151, 160
  • Brindle, S. and Kerr, B., 1997, Windsor Revealed: New Light on the History of the Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • Nicolson, Adam, 1997, Restoration: the rebuilding of Windsor Castle
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 6-8
  • David Jordan, David Haddon-Reece, and Alex Bayliss (eds), 1994, Radiocardon Dates from samples funded by English Heritage and dated before 1981 (London: English Heritage) p. 232 online copy
  • Thurley, Simon, 1993, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England (Yale University Press)
  • Girouard, Mark, 1993, Windsor: The Most Romantic Castle (Hodder and Stoughton)
  • James, T.B., 1990, The Palaces of Medieval England (London; Seaby)
  • Farrar, Henry, 1990, Windsor : town and castle (Chichester)
  • De-la-Noy, Michael, 1990, Windsor Castle: past and present
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 227-31
  • Furtado, Peter et al (eds), 1988, Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain (London) p. 22
  • Colvin, H.M., 1986, 'Royal Gardens in Medieval England' in Elisabeth MacDougall (ed) Medieval Gardens (Washington D.C.) p. 10-11, 14
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 12
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 319-20
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 3: 1485-1660 (part 1) p. 302-333
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 348
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman) p405
  • Pevsner, N., 1966, Buildings of England: Berkshire (London) p. 266-92
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 864-888
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 46-9
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 29-37
  • Page, Wm and Ditchfield, P.H. (eds), 1923, VCH Berkshire Vol. 3 p. 5-56 online transcription
  • < >Hope, W.H.St John, 1913, Windsor Castle an Architectural History (London: Country Life) (King writes "Beside this monumental work everything else must appear insignificant") < >
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 236-9 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Page, Wm and Ditchfield, P.H. (eds), 1906, VCH Berkshire Vol. 1 p. 267-8
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 180-90 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 40 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1806, Magna Britannia Vol. 1 p. 1 p. 416-32
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 7



  • Neil Guy, 2016, 'Lancaster Castle The Gatehouse Revealed' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 30 p. 168-217 (comparative gatehouses p. 215)
  • Richard Hulme, 2014-15, ''Well-placed for Waging War': Strategic aspects of William the Conqueror's rural castles' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 225-38
  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Creighton, O.H., 2010, 'Room with a View: Framing Castles Landscapes' Château Gaillard Vol. 24 p. 37-49 (slight)
  • Tatton-Brown, Tim, 2007-8, 'Windsor Castle before 1348' The Friends of St George's ... Windsor Annual Report Vol. 8.9 p. 482-90
  • Saul, N., 2007, 'The growth of a mausoleum: the pre-1600s tombs and brasses of St George's Chapel, Windsoe' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 87 p. 220-58
  • Platt, Steve, 2006-7, 'Time Team at Windsor' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 20 p. 168-70 (brief report of Time Team Excavation)
  • Baker, P., 2006, 'Monarchs and meals: food provisioning and consumption at Windsor Castle' The Archaeologist Vol. 59 p. 26-7
  • Coldstream, N., 2003 'Architects, Advisers and Design at Edward I's Castles in Wales' Architectural History Vol. 46 p. 19-36
  • Cromwell, Tom and Betts, Ian, 2002-3, 'Windsor Castle Governor's House Floor. Recording a medieval tiled floor' CfA News Newsletter of the Centre for Archaeology Vol. 4 p. 10-11 online copy
  • Kerr, Brian, 1995-96, 'Windsor Castle Fire Project' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 9 p. 28-31 online copy
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Kerr, Brian, 1990, 'Windsor Castle Round Tower: results of rescue excavation and recording, 1989-90' Castle Studies Group Newsletter Vol. 4 p. 6-10 online scan
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 320
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • Bond, S., 1967, 'The Medieval Constables of Windsor Castle' English Historical Review 323 p. 225-49
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
  • Wickham-Legg, L.G., 1938, 'Windsor Castle, New College, Oxford, and Winchester College: A Study in the Development of Planning by William Wykeham' Journal of the British Archaeological Association (ser3) Vol. 3 p. 83-95
  • Knoop, D., and Jones, G.P., 1937, 'The impressment of masons for Windsor Castle, 1360 - 1363' Economic History Vol. 3.12 p. 350 - 361
  • Armitage, E., 1904, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 441-3 online copy
  • Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 87 online copy
  • Round, J.H., 1902, 'Castle Guard' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 59 p. 144-159 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 200 online copy
  • E.B., 1846, 'on some remains of the work of William of Wykham, at Windsor Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 3 p. 59-61 online copy

Guide Books

  • Robinson, John Martin, 2001, Windsor Castle Offical illustrated history (Royal Collection Enterprises)
  • Robinson, John Martin, 1996, Royal palaces. Windsor Castle: a short history
  • Robinson, John Martin, 1995, Windsor Castle Offical Guide (Royal Collection Enterprises)
  • Morshead, Owen, 1951, Windsor Castle (London) (a revised edn published in 1957)
  • March, Wm, 1936, Offical guide to Windsor Castle the Town and neighbourhood of Windsor (Windsor: Oxley and Son)
  • Goddard, n.d., Windsor, the castle of our King (London)

Primary Sources

  • 1086, Domesday Book online copy
  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) Laud Chronicle AD1095 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
  • Pipe Rolls (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Stevenson, J. (ed), 1858, Chronicon Monasterii de Abingdon Vol. 2 p. 3, 183 (London; Longman Rolls series) online copy (A newer edition based on the earliest manuscript should be consulted. see Hudson, J. (ed), 2007, Historia Ecclesie Abbendonensis The History of the Church of Abingdon (Oxford; Oxford University Press)
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 421 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 93-6
  • E178/3546 (Survey of 2 James I and 4 & 5 Charles I) The National Archives reference (compare with Hope, 1913, Windsor Castle an Architectural History chap 17)
  • Knole House (Survey of 1620) (in 1874, Fourth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (HMSO) p. 277
  • E101/492/22 (Survey of 1327) The National Archives reference (in Hope, 1913, Windsor Castle an Architectural History p. 119)
  • E178/3546 (Survey of 5 Charles I) The National Archives reference (in Hope, 1913, Windsor Castle an Architectural History p. 295-8)
  • C145/110(30) (Survey of 1329) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 267 No. 1081 [online copy >])
  • N.B. in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 300 No. 1220 (a survey of [Kempton House >] is wrongly described as Windsor Castle)


  • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2008 Feb 25 (1st broadcast), 'Windsor Castle' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4)
  • Jones, R.S., 2007, Horseshoe Cloister, Windsor Castle (Cambrian Archaeological Projects Ltd) online copy
  • Brindle, Steven, 2006 Sept 30, Edward III and the Upper Ward at Windsor - Plan, Function and Representation paper given at Castle Studies Group autumn conference, The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, London.
  • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2006 August (1st broadcast), 'The Big Royal Dig' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4)
  • Adcock, J. and Gater, J., 2006, Geophysical Survey: Windsor Castle (Geophysical Surveys of Bradford (GSB Prospection) online copy