Windsor is a historic market town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.
The early history of the site is unknown, although it was almost certainly settled some years before 1070 when William the Conqueror had a timber motte and bailey castle constructed. The focus of royal interest at that time was not the castle, however, but a small riverside settlement about 3 miles (5 km) downstream, possibly established from the 7th century. From about the 8th century, high status people started to visit the site occasionally, and possibly this included royalty. From the 11th century the site's link with king Edward the Confessor is documented, but again, information about his use of the place is scant. After the Conquest of 1066 royal use of the site increased, probably because it offered good access to woodlands and opportunities for hunting ? a sport which also practised military skills.
Windsor Great Park
One of the Royal Parks Windsor Great Park covers and area of 5,000 acres of land along the Berkshire and Surrey border and lies immediately adjacent to Windsor Castle. Once the park was forest and was the hunting gound for the Castle. These days though it is largely open to the public between dawn and dusk but not funded by the public. This is the only one of the Royal Parks actually run by the Crown Estate.
Marie and I were only visiting the park for the morning and we elected to follow the Long Walk and go through the Deer Park as a way of getting to Windsor for lunch and a trip around the Castle.
The Great Park is a gently undulating area of varied landscape. It has sweeping deer lawns, small woods, coverts and areas covered by huge solitary ancient oak trees. There is a small river in the north of the park called the Battle Bourne running to the Thames near Datchet. The River Bourne runs through a number of ponds to the south. Chief amongst these are Great Meadow Pond and Obelisk Pond, near the great lake of Virginia Water. The most prominent hill is Snow Hill and the avenue of trees known as the Long Walk runs between here and Windsor Castle. The area is accessed by a number of gates: Queen Anne's Gate, Ranger's Gate, Cranbourne Gate, Forest Gate, Sandpit Gate, Prince Consort's Gate, Blacknest Gate, Bishop's Gate and Bear's Rails Gate and the original medieval park pale can still be seen in places. The main Sheet Street Road (A332) into Windsor runs through the northeast of the park. On the western side of the park is The Village, built in the 1930s to house Royal estate workers. It has a village shop. Other buildings include the Royal Lodge, Cumberland Lodge, the Cranbourne Tower and Norfolk Farm. The park lies mostly within the civil parish of Old Windsor, though the eastern regions are in the Borough of Runnymede and there are small areas in the parishes of Winkfield and Sunninghill. Areas associated with or attached to the Great Park, but not officially within its borders include the Home Park, Mote Park, Flemish Farm, Cranbourne Chase, Forest Lodge and South Forest.
The Long Walk
The Long Walk runs between the George IV Gatehouse at Windsor Castle and the George III The Copper Horse Statue on Snow Hill (a distance of just over 2.6 miles) and was originally defined by two lines of Elm trees either side of a carriage way. These trees were replaced over a long period of time from the 1860's to the 1940's by Horse Chestnut, London Plane and Oak.
The Copper Horse
The Copper Horse is a statue of George III on horseback, and is said to represent George as an emperor in the Roman tradition riding without stirrups, along the lines of the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius. However other myths about the lack of stirrups are told also, such as the artist having died before completing the statue, leaving just the stirrups unfinished.