During my whirlwind trip to London, I managed to fit in quite a lot of sightseeing in one day. But as they say on the infomercials, “but wait, there’s more!” Since I did such a good job on Saturday, I had a whole Sunday to see more! I was staying across the street from Windsor Castle, so I decided to spend the morning touring the castle and grounds, then I hopped back on a train to London and spent the afternoon at the Tower of London.
Windsor Castle is about an hour outside of London by train and serves, along with ceremonial purposes, as the weekend residence of the Queen. It is open to tourists and depending on who is in residence, visitors have the opportunity to tour the State Apartments. As I toured the castle I saw not only the apartments, but part of the royal art collection, Queen Mary’s Doll House, a collection of Shakespeare transcripts, and a display of Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe spanning 90 years.
Unfortunately, no interior photography is allowed so I don’t have specific shots to share. Lets just say that the words opulent, lavish, ostentatious are not sufficient to describe the interior. Definitely not to my style, but the intricacies and detail to be found in each room is enough to spend hours. I just soaked it up as I wandered through the castle and grounds.
Tower of London
After exploring Windsor Castle I took the train back into London and visited the Tower of London. I arrived just as a free tour was starting and decided to tag along. I highly recommend it! Over 45 minutes, the Yeoman took us through the grounds and told many stories of the Tower’s history. It gave me great context as I explored the buildings and grounds of the Tower.
The Tower houses the Crown Jewels, another exhibit in which photos were not allowed. While I thought the rooms of Windsor Castle were over-the-top, the Crown Jewels were so much so that they rounded the corner to costume jewelry. Jewels so big they looked fake.
What I really enjoyed at the Tower of London was the museum inside the White Tower. Housing historic armor and weapons, I learned more about the history of the tower and the monarchy from the museum than I had at the Castle or with the Crown Jewels.
Another fascinating thing about the Tower of London was the ravens. There is a prophecy that the kingdom will fall if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London. So, there are several ravens with clipped wings that are cared for by a dedicated keeper. They have full access to the grounds and their own private cages. Not a bad way to earn a living!
Heading into this short trip to England, I wasn’t sure how much I would get to see. After walking London for a day, touring Windsor Castle, and touring the Tower of London, I have to recommend the Tower of London (with the free tour) as my favorite.