Things to see and do in Windsor

PUBLISHED: 12:36 13 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:36 13 August 2014

Oakley Court

Oakley Court

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Combining 1,000 years of history with contemporary shops and cafes, fine dining, and leisure activities along the Thames, Windsor is the perfect town to visit this summer, says Katy Eachus

With its many attractions, Thameside location and royal connection, it’s no surprise Windsor is such a popular weekend break destination. Correctly known as New Windsor on the River Thames, the town has 7th century origins and grew out of the Saxon settlement of Windlesora where the present village of Old Windsor is located. The ‘new town’ is full of interesting, old buildings and crowned by the largest inhabited castle in the world, and the oldest in constant occupation.

It has been the chief residence of English rulers since William the Conqueror. The Round Tower was built in the reign of Henry II and St George’s Chapel was started in the reign of Edward IV. This is one of the most splendid churches in England and is where the Knights of the Garter are installed with medieval ceremony. Also, not to be missed are the lavishly decorated Sate Apartments and Queen Mary’s Dolls House which contains working lifts, running water and electricity and took 1500 craftsmen three years to complete.

Explore the cobbled streets around the castle and you’ll find lots of interesting little shops and cafes. Look out for The Old Kings Head in Church Street; Shakespeare is said to have written The Merry Wives of Windsor here. A plaque on its wall records the execution warrant for Charles I in 1648.

A few doors along is Burford House, said to be where Charles II housed his mistress, Nell Gwynne. The Crooked Tea House built in 1592 has an extraordinary lean, thought to be due to the use of unseasoned timber in its construction. A secret passage in the basement is said to have been used for illicit meetings between Charles II and his mistress. Next to the Crooked Tea House you will find Queen Charlotte Street, the shortest street in Britain.

Another building to look out for is the Guildhall built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1690. Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles here, and Elton John and David Furnish held their civil partnership ceremony.

South of the historic castle are many interesting streets with fine examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture. The tree-lined Long Walk links the castle with the Great Park, which is a lovely place to walk and is home to the famous Savill Gardens and Viginia Water Lake.

You can plan your visit at the Royal Windsor Information Centre in the Booking Hall of the old Windsor Royal station.

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Things to Do

•Enjoy Monday night racing at Royal Windsor Racecourse. Head down to the course, perhaps by boat, and make the most of an evening of sport, sparkle, fun… and live music. Book a package that includes dining and you are in for a treat. Book tickets at www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk.

•Visit Windsor Castle, open daily March to Oct from 9.45am – 17.15, and Nov to Feb 9.45am – 16.15. Adults £18.50, under 17 years £11, under five years free, seniors and students £16.75, family tickets (2 adults and up to three under 17s) £48. (Free to Windsor residents with Advantage Cards.) www.royalcollection.org.uk

•See the Changing of the Guard, at 11am daily April to July except Sundays and alternate days August to March except Sundays.

•Take a guided tour in an open-top bus from outside the Castle.

•Ride in a horse and carriage, from just outside the castle.

•Cool off with a swim in the Leisure Centre, on the edge of the River.

•Feed the swans, take a boat ride or hire a rowing boat on the Thames.

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Station shopping

Take inspiration from last month’s Fashion Show and shop for your summer wardrobe at Windsor Royal Shopping. The shopping centre, open seven days a week, is housed in the former Victorian railway station opposite Windsor Castle and is home to over 40 shops, an array of continental style restaurants, cafes and bars, and an art and craft market. Recent new openings include Bobbi Brown makeup, Sweaty Betty, Hardy’s Sweet Shop and two concessions: Serendipity (small household goods) and The Moroccan Artisan (thuya wood gifts and wooden toys) – bringing the total number of concessions to ten. With the addition of Bill’s restaurant there are now 12 great places to eat.

Access to the shopping centre has been improved with the opening of a new £160,000 footbridge, linking the Windsor Royal Station with the Alma Road car park via the FM Global Insurance car park (parking available to shoppers at weekends).

Loyal shoppers are rewarded with an exclusive new members-only ENVY card with exclusive offers and discounts from a selection of Windsor Royal shopping stores and restaurants as well as some local attractions and venues.

www.windsorroyalshopping.co.uk

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Fabulous Fenwick

For those late Summer holidays or early Autumn breaks Fenwick will not only be launching new collections and beauty brands but their fantastic sale reductions will continue. New men’s and ladies fragrances have been introduced by Aramis, DKNY and Michael Kors, and the perfume collection from Rouge Bunny Rouge. Browse the Beauty Space for hair care by London Salon and Percy & Reed.

For a great addition to their fashion range the store is introducing Lifestyle Collections from Sahara, Repeat, Goose and One Life. New to Fenwick Windsor are handbags by Nica and the popular handbag brand Coccinelle.

Tel: 01753 855537 www.fenwick.co.uk

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Scent of summer

Originating from an 18th century apothecary, situated behind Windsor Castle, Woods of Windsor now brings us high quality, natural beauty products inspired by the nostalgic romanticism, charm and wildness of an English country garden.

With summer dictating a lighter approach to scent selection, both Yardley London and Woods of Windsor offer a varied range of contemporary and easy to wear fruity florals, green floral scents and cologne fragrances ideal for wearing throughout the season. New Woods of Windsor Pomegranate & Hibiscus is a fruity, floral fragrance that opens with citrus top notes of bergamot and mandarin revealing a vibrant heart of pomegranate, cassis, ginger, mimosa and tropical hibiscus flower, enhanced with a warm, sweet, powdery base that blends sandalwood and vanilla. Priced at £14.99, 100ml

Tel: 01753 753420 www.woodsofwindsor.co.uk

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The Oakley Court hotel

The Oakley Court hotel is a gorgeous country house hotel in the Gothic style situated on the banks of the river Thames between Maidenhead and Windsor. The 19th century mansion sits in over 35 acres of landscaped gardens that lead gently down to the River Thames. Leisure facilities include tennis courts, a croquet lawn and nine-hole golf course, a gym and swimming pool.

Tel: 0118 971 4700 www.oakleycourtwindsor.com

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Largest department store

The popular, family-run Daniel of Windsor is the largest department store in the town and offers over 40 quality departments including men’s and ladies’ fashions, furniture, shoes, homeware and the largest award-winning toy department south of the West End. Three great restaurants – the Brasserie, La Croisette and Le Suquet tea room – cater for most dining tastes. With easy access for pushchair and wheelchair users, the store provides a convenient link between Peascod Street and King Edward’s Court shopping centre.

Tel: 01753 801000 www.danielstores.co.uk

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Shoes for summer

Treat your feet to some stylish holiday footwear at Johnson’s Shoes in King Edward’s Court this summer. The Windsor shop is the flagship store of this highly successful, family-owned company, established in 1952. It stocks a large range of footwear and accessories for the whole family with brands for men and women including Barker, Converse, Ecco, Gabor, Hispanitas, Peter Kaiser, K&S, Timberland and Ugg.

The children’s department has specially trained staff to fit youngsters’ shoes. Brands include Clarks, Start-rite, Converse, Geox, Lelli Kelly, Nike and Skechers.

Shown here: Adeline sandals in Cognac by Gabor £79.99, Shari handbag also Gabor £59.99. Regina espadrilles by Toni Pons £79.99.

Tel: 01753 868035 www.jshoes.net

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Beautiful bathrooms

The Legato bathroom from Villeroy & Boch is one of the latest ranges available at European Bathrooms and features a contemporary square-edge bath and LED lighting. Get inspiration, catch up on the latest trends and get lots of creative ideas from this stylish showroom.

Established in 1995, European Bathrooms works in partnership with Europe’s most prestigious brands including Villeroy & Boch, Schneider, Burg, Hansgrohe, Keuco, Kohler, Daryl and Bisque. Products are available on a supply-only basis or a complete project-managed installation. Book online for a free, no-obligation home visit to discuss your requirements. The company prides itself on its quality products, many of which come with manufacturer guarantees, and its after-sales service.

Tel: 01753 865050 www.europeanbathrooms.com

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Where to eat
Finding somewhere to eat will not be a problem. Within a short walk of the castle there are historic pubs and restaurants, continental-style pavement cafes, traditional tearooms and a wide range of restaurants. Windsor Royal Shopping in particular has become home to some of the best names for everything from light bites through to evening candlelit dining.

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See a show
Complete your visit to Windsor with a trip to the Theatre Royal which nestles in the shadow of Windsor Castle. Productions this summer include Murder Weapon by Brian Clemens, creator of The Avengers and The Professionals (30 June to 5 July); The Gentle Hook by Francis Durbridge, writer of the Paul Temple series (7-12 July); Jane Austen’s Persuasion (18-19 July); Dreamboats and Miniskirts (6-16 August); Joseph and His Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat (23 July-3 August) and Twelve Angry Men (19-30 August)

Tel: 01753 853888 www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

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Where To Stay
Enjoy a visit to Windsor Racecourse with Macdonald Windsor Hotel on Monday and weekend race days throughout the summer. The AA four red star Macdonald Windsor townhouse hotel opposite Windsor Castle is offering an overnight racing package including accommodation in a Classic room, full English breakfast, tickets for entry into Windsor Racecourse club enclosure and a return river taxi trip from the town. Also included are a £2 Totepool betting booster voucher booklet, £10 drinks voucher and race card listing the day’s runners and riders. All from £350 per room based on two sharing.

Part of Macdonald Hotels’ Signature Collection, the three year old hotel has 120 bedrooms including 10 luxurious suites with views of Windsor Castle.

Tel: 0844 879 9101 www.MacdonaldHotels.co.uk/Windsor

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