Published on February 15th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw
Windsor Castle Special Stamps Launch
The Windsor Castle Special Stamps are launched today. Windsor Castle is the oldest inhabited Castle in the world, private home to Her Majesty The Queen and an official Royal residence.
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the devastating fire which caused extensive damage to the Castle on 20th November 1992. Days after the fire, The Queen gave her famous “Annus Horribilis” speech in London.
115 rooms were destroyed or very badly damaged by the fire. It took fifteen hours to extinguish the fire and over a million gallons of water were pumped into the fabric of the building. The process of clearing, drying out, renovating and redecorating the damaged structure was part of a 5-year restoration programme.
Today, Windsor Castle has been returned to its former glory that almost one million visitors a year enjoy.
The History of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in around 1080. It was originally built as a motte and bailey castle, one of a chain of fortifications forming a defensive ring around London. A major expansion of the building was completed by Edward II and Edward III in 14th century.
The home to Kings and Queens of Great Britain for over 1,000 years, the Castle covers 13 acres. This makes it not only the oldest, but also the largest occupied castle in the world. Over 500 people live and work there.
Throughout the centuries, Windsor Castle has seen and survived many momentous events in our history. During the English Civil War, it was used as the Parliamentary forces headquarters and prison for Charles I.
The Royal Family went on to use the Castle as refuge during the Second World War. Buckingham Palace was actually hit on sixteen occasions in Luftwaffe bombing raids, nine of which were direct hits.
Most recently of course, the fire of 1992 threatened the future of this magnificent piece of architecture.
Windsor Castle Today
The Queen now often uses Windsor Castle as her weekend home. It is also used for state banquets and official visits.
Meanwhile, for tourists there is much to see. The stunning State Apartments feature works of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings from Rembrandt and Rubens. Whilst Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House created in 1920’s is the largest and most famous doll’s house in the world.
You can also visit St George’s Chapel where 10 monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I are buried.
Windsor Castle Special Stamps
As a follow up to the successful Buckingham Palace issue of 2014, Windsor Castle is now celebrated as one of the most famous buildings in the UK. The six special stamps explore the iconic views and some of the sumptuous interiors of the Castle.
The Long Walk: 1st Class
The Long Walk is the path linking Windsor Castle with Snow Hill. It is 2.64 miles long, so ideal for joggers or to enjoy a brisk walk in the beautiful surroundings. The double rows of Elm trees were planted along the route during the reign of King Charles II. Meanwhile, Snow Hill is rumoured to be where King Henry VIII waited to hear news of the execution of Anne Boleyn.
Round Tower: 1st Class
The imposing Round Tower dominates the skyline at a height of 65.5 metres above the River Thames. It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk up the Round Tower’s 200 steps to see the breathtaking views across the Windsor Parkland, Thames Valley and London.
The Norman Gate: 1st Class – featuring the PostEurop stamp
The Norman Gate is the principal entrance to the Upper Ward of the Castle. Situated at the foot of the Round Tower it is the last bastion of defence before the Upper Ward where the Royal Apartments are based.
St George’s Hall: £1.52
Used for major state banquets St George’s Hall can seat up to 160 people. It was painstakingly restored following the 1992 fire. Fortunately, many furnishings of the room were in storage at the time of the fire as it was being rewired at the time.
The Queen’s Ballroom: £1.52
The Queen’s Ballroom was extensively re-modelled by William IV, but retains elements of Charles II decoration. The glass chandeliers are among the finest of their kind, commissioned by George III.
The Waterloo Chamber: £1.52
The Waterloo Chamber was re-modelled from a Charles II room, and contains fine wood carving from that period. George IV when he was Prince Regent, conceived the room to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon. It also played host for an annual banquet on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. Today, the room is used for The Queen’s lunch for the Knights of the Garter.
The Miniature Sheet
A miniature sheet of an additional four stamps explores the interior of St George’s Chapel, the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter. Building of the Chapel began in 1475. Henry VII then completed the nave and extraordinary stone vaulted ceiling. Finally, Henry VIII completed building work by 1528.
The architecture is renowned as among the finest examples of Gothic in the UK, the late medieval style of English architecture. The intricate work is celebrated in these stamps which feature:
- Nave – Sir Reginald Bray Roof Boss: 1st Class
- Nave – Fan-vaulted roof: £1st Class
- Quire – Garter banners: £1.33
- Quire – St George’s Cross roof boss: £1.33
The border image of the miniature sheet features the striking West Door entrance to St George’s Chapel.