Itinerary: Windsor Castle, Oxford, and Stonehenge.
This tour was pre-booked a couple a months before our trip. Our coach was leaving Victoria Coach Station and after rushing, getting lost, and running around the confusing, under construction area, we finally found our bus tour!
Our tour guide was Russell and our driver was Ian. Russell was a short man with brown hair and a mustache. He was a stylish dresser with a brown jacket and suspenders.
He noticed my TARDIS necklace and mentioned that the new season would premiere that Saturday. I’d see it when I got home the next week.
Our first stop was Windsor Castle. While we were on the queue to get into the castle Russell took aside those in our group who had the London Pass to bring them to their entrance. With the London Pass you pay a fee, and then you get your own skip-the-line entrance at certain attractions because you already paid.
As he was taking them aside a Windsor Castle employee asked if the group was with Russell. He responded that they were and that they had London Passes. She then proceeded to explain that they could go on ahead. Russell said that they were with him and he was taking them to their separate entrance and he would be back for the rest of the group. There was a back and forth exchange about this and then Russell said, “I’m taking them in.” The Windsor Castle employee was taken back and widened her eyes at his tone.
He was a bit snippy, but that will always be an inside joke between Victoria, Stefan, Daniela and I. Throughout the trip we would periodically say to one another, “I’m taking them in.” LOL
Here are a few small things Russell told us about Windsor Castle. George IV was very vain and built ornate castles. He rebuilt Windsor. It had many styles over the years and the one we see today is from the 1820’s.
George IV was the fattest King of England. Henry VIII was the second fattest. George IV was 350 pounds and had a 54″ waist. This has been disputed by people, but Russell said George IV is the inspiration for the nursery rhyme:
Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ and Pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry,
George IV was a terrible drinker, gambler, lover, and king.
Windsor Castle is the home of the Queen today, when she is not spending the summer in Scotland. The Round Tower is not open to the public because she keeps her archives and private art collection there. She has many drawing from Leonardo da Vinci. I am jealous.
After going through security we went straight to St. George’s Chapel. We needed to be back at the bus by 12:15 so this would be the express tour. On our way to St. George’s Chapel we encountered the changing of the guard. It’s a long ceremony so we just took a few photos, and I took some video.
St. George’s Chapel is very pretty. (Ugh, again with the no photography rule!) We saw a beautiful statue of Princess Charlotte , who died when giving birth. Her baby died too.
Charlotte is lying down and covered with a shroud. Her hand, (wonderfully detailed) peaks out at the bottom. She is surrounded by mourners, angels (one carrying her son), and her soul is ascending to heaven. It’s beautifully sad.
We also saw the quire in St. George’s Chapel where Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane, are buried. I was surprised to learn from the plaque on the floor that they are also buried with some of the remains of the beheaded Charles I. Ironic. Henry VIII had people beheaded.
We then had to quickly, and I mean quickly, see the State Apartments. It was an express run through with no audio tour to explain what we were seeing. Also because the line was so long and we were running out of time, we had to skip Queen Anne’s Doll House. I love doll houses.
Before going back to the bus we picked up some sandwiches from EAT. We were nervous about being late. Russell had pointed out the train when we arrived and said if were left behind that is how we’d get back to London. 0_0. We didn’t want to find out if he was joking.
Next we went to Oxford. This is where I became a total fangirl because during our walking tour of the college town, we saw the Bodleian Library. Why was I fangirling?
Because in the All Souls Trilogy the Bodleian Library is where Diana Bishop finds the missing manuscript, Ashmole 782. It’s where she first meets Matthew Clairmont. Speaking of Matthew, we also saw through the gates All Souls College. If you have no idea what I am talking about just read these books:
Of cours since we are not students or faculty we could not enter. Though I suppose if we had more time we could have see the exhibit on the Great War?
Here are some photos outside the Bodleian
The Radcliffe Camera, opened in 1749, it is the earliest example in England of a circular library. It was connected to the Bodleian Library by an underground tunnel in 1909-1912.
All Souls College.
The one downside to these bus tours is that because you have to be on your way to the next destination by a certain time, you only get an express track experience of these towns. I would love to go back to Oxford and spend more time there. To see the exhibitions, the Bodleian shop. In all my photo taking and over stimulation I later realize when looking at Stefan’s photos I missed the Bridge of Sighs!
We also didn’t have enough time to see Christ Church College, where Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone filmed on location.
We had to be at the bus by 2:30 and it would hake about an hour to get to Stonehenge. However, we did have a little time to shop. I bought a purple t-shirt that says Oxford England, an Oxford University keychain, an eraser, and a stone model of the Radcliffe Camera.
There was a heavy rain shower on our way to Stonehenge. Good thing we were on the bus. Russell had said at the beginning of the tour, “If you came to London for the weather, that was your first mistake.” LOL
So this was very cool. They are trying to restore the land back to nature and so they moved the visitor center away from the stones so that you now can take a tram to and from. There was a peaceful and earthy feeling as we circled the stones and we got to get pretty close.
Of course President Obama went to Stonehenge a few weeks after we did and got to touch the stones. Typical. They told us the ground was too weak to walk on but because he’s a president… 😉
This one looks like Admiral Ackbar.
Sadly I was also reminded of Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
After a quick stop in the gift shop it was back to London. I would love to go back to Windsor Castle and Oxford to see the sites we missed. Stonehenge was very impressive and I am glad to say “been there, done that.” I do feel it is a place you only need to see once.