An insider's guide: the best of Windsor

By Vanessa Teo

Because we love Windsor so much, we wanted to help customers get the most out of their experience to the royal borough. There's so much more to do and see once you've visited Windsor Castle, so we asked Michelle Heywood, owner of The Best of Windsor, to give us some top tips.

Having lived there from childhood, she knows the area like the back of her hand, and since The London Pass has now teamed up with a handful of great deals and discounts in Windsor & Eton - we've got all you need for a fun day out!

London Pass: How long have you lived in Windsor & Eton for?

Michelle Heywood: I’ve pretty much been in Windsor & Eton since I was 7. I went to the Brigidene Convent School in Windsor until I was 16 years old and because I actually lived some miles away in Crowthorne, I spent a lot of time staying with friends in Windsor at the weekend. I fell in love with the town and moved first to Old Windsor and then Windsor when I graduated.

London Pass: Which is your favourite part of Windsor & Eton?

Michelle Heywood: It has to be the Long Walk and Windsor Great Park where we walk our dog Sidney every day, and which we also run in. It looks beautiful in every season and due to its size never feels crowded. The totem pole in the park, carved from Western Red Cedar and erected in 1958, was a gift from native peoples from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. I love the carvings on this.

London Pass: Where is the best place in Windsor & Eton to enjoy views of the castle?

Michelle Heywood: The castle is pretty big so you can see different views from a few places. My favourite views are from the top of Peascod Street where you can see the entrance, round tower and Queen Victoria’s statue; from the bridge between Windsor and Eton; and from the Long Walk where you see another part of the castle entirely, surrounded by parkland. You get a great view from the river too, so if you get a chance take a French Brothers River Cruise or a take a trip with London Kayak Tours and see the Castle from a kayak!

London Pass: What else would you recommend that tourists see, other than Windsor Castle, while they are in the area?

Michelle Heywood: If you are just in Windsor for the day and have come by train, then I would recommend that you don’t miss a visit to Eton. Here you can see the following highlights:

An original mid-19th century red ‘pillar box’ half way down Eton High Street which has a vertical letter slot Eton College, originally founded as a charity school in 1440 by King Henry VI to provide free education to 70 poor boys.

It is now the prestigious Public School for 1,300 13-18 year old boys whose uniform of tailcoats and colourful waistcoats (worn by members of the Eton Society who are Prefects) still attracts much interest. 70 boys are still chosen as King’s Scholars. Prince William and Harry both attended Eton College.

The Edge II bronze sculpture of a naked man can be found in Common Lane – look up high for this! The sculpture was produced by British artist Antony Gormley who is best known for Britain’s largest sculpture situated near Gateshead called The Angel of the North.

Of course on your way down to these sights you can pop into the many independent shops which include The Eton Fudge Shop where Hazel makes many flavours of home-made fudge from a traditional English recipe, right there in the shop!

London Pass: Like Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle also has its own changing of the guard ceremony, right?

Michelle Heywood: Since 1660 the duty of the guards has been to protect the monarch. The Windsor Castle Guards, often accompanied by pipes and drums, march from Victoria Barracks to the castle to change guard all year round (depending on the weather). The best place to watch them is along the High Street and just outside the Castle entrance from about 10.45am and again at 11.25am as the old guard return to the Barracks. If you actually want to see the ceremony you will need to pay to go into the Castle. They march every day from April to July (but never march on a Sunday) and on alternate days from August to March. Days and times may vary, especially by season so you should always check beforehand on The Royal Collection’s website. The Changing of the Guard is one of the highlights of a visit to Windsor. A band usually accompanies the Guards, although this is subject to weather conditions.

London Pass: How do Windsor & Eton differ as visitor destinations? Are they close to one another?

Michelle Heywood: Eton can be found across the bridge just at the bottom of Castle Hill so is really, really close to Windsor. Both towns should be explored when visiting Windsor Castle because there’s lots to see, and you can stop on the way to Eton to walk down by the river and feed the ducks and swans. A local shop sells bags of bread just for this purpose!

London Pass: Are there any local haunts or ‘off the beaten track’ destinations that we should know about?

Michelle Heywood: Windsor and Eton is quite a small area, so if you follow the walking tour you will see a lot of the hidden gems! Take a look at our 2 minute video ‘The hidden treasures of Windsor and Eton’ for some highlights: The hidden treasures of Windsor and Eton

London Pass: What is the best place in Windsor & Eton for a coffee and a cake to finish off a day of sightseeing?

Michelle Heywood: The best afternoon tea in my opinion can be found at Macdonald Windsor hotel which is situated behind the pedestrian crossing in front of the castle in the High Street. Their hasty bites menu is useful for a quick but delicious lunch and they have a full and impressive dinner menu. For a coffee and cake, the red velvet cake is my favourite which can be found at Gigney’s artisan cafe, just down from Windsor and Eton Riverside station and near the King George V Memorial. Delicious!

London Pass: What is the most typically English part of Windsor & Eton?

Michelle Heywood: We love our pubs, bars and restaurants and we have many really old establishments like the Carpenters Arms, the Two Brewers and The Watermans Arms in Eton which is the oldest pub in the area. We also have some special products made right here in the town, such as British beer brewed at The Windsor & Eton Brewery and teas from Darvilles of Windsor (who have a royal warrant) who have been blending and supplying teas for over 140 years.

There you have it, a comprehensive insider's guide to exploring the charm and beauty of Windsor & Eton. From the historic Windsor Castle to the quaint attractions of Eton, there's much more Beyond the castle, there's history, culture, food and natural beauty around every corner.

You'll have fun deciding how to fill your time. Do you want to immerse in royal heritage at the castle? Wander quaint streets taking in gorgeous architecture? Stop for coffee and cake at a charming cafe? Sample ales at a historic pub?

Be sure to leave time simply taking in stunning Thames views and countryside scenery. You may even spot deer!

Wherever your interests, you won't run out of ways to spend days soaking up everything. The history and beauty are waiting - enjoy discovering it for yourself!

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London Buckingham Palace view

Kensington Palace vs Buckingham Palace Comparison

You don’t have to be a royalist to be awed by the stunning palaces owned by the royal family. In total, they own 30 estates, but Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace are perhaps two of the finest. From the Changing the Guard to the opulence of the buildings, the rich history to the natural beauty of the gardens, they’re both stunning constructions. If you want a little background information before visiting, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss the similarities and differences, their respective histories, how to get to each, and what to do when you’re there. A Brief History of Kensington Palace Kensington Palace is a royal residence in West London and the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The palace has undergone many changes throughout its history and housed many famous royals, including being the birthplace of Queen Victoria and the home of Princess Diana. The palace, originally named Nottingham House before being renamed Kensington Palace in 1689, suffered extensive damage by bombing in the Second World War, with restoration taking place in 1952. A Brief History of Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It is the official London residence of the King and one of the largest palaces in Europe. This palace has witnessed many important historical events and served as the residence for important British monarchs like Queen Victoria and King George III. Built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, Buckingham Palace has undergone several important renovations and expansions. Today, it serves as a symbol of the monarchy and its history. For perspective on just how big Buckingham Palace actually is, it has 775 rooms, and the garden is the largest private garden in London. Where is Kensington Palace and how do I get there? Kensington Palace, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is open to the public on selected days, so anyone can visit Kensington Palace and see its magnificent state rooms. The palace is just a short walk away from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, which makes it a great day out for the whole family. How to get to Kensington Palace by tube: The nearest underground tube stations are High Street Kensington and Queensway. Both will require around a 10-minute walk from the station to the palace. Where is Buckingham Palace and how do I get there? Buckingham Palace is in the City of Westminster, central London, close to Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey. It’s open to the public for tours during the summer months. The palace also hosts many state banquets, receptions, and ceremonies throughout the year. How to get to Buckingham Palace by tube: The nearest tube station to Buckingham Palace is Westminster, where you’ll need to take a short walk, 3 or 4 minutes, to reach the royal grounds. Things to do at Kensington Palace Take a guided tour of Kensington Palace to learn about the fascinating history of this London landmark. The tour includes the State Apartments, the King’s and Queen’s Staircases, King’s Gallery, sunken gardens, and more. Keep your camera handy as you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take jaw-dropping photos. For example, The King’s Gallery is maintained to a level that looks exactly as it did when transformed for King George I in 1725. An almost 300-year-old time capsule. The Jewel Room at Kensington Palace is home to an incredible display of jewelry, including specially commissioned gems for Queen Victoria, a diamond and emerald tiara, an emerald necklace, and so much more. The level of opulence and craftsmanship is a feast for the eyes. Kensington Palace Gardens is a treat for all the family. You’ll need comfortable shoes to explore the 240 acres, including the wildflowers, formal garden, and cradle walk. It’s a vast property, so allow yourself 2 hours for the Palace, and another 2 to fully enjoy the gardens. Things to do at Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace is the residence of the King of England and the administrative headquarters of the royal family. Buckingham Palace is also one of the most iconic and recognized structures in the world. Time your visit for the Changing the Guard. It’s free to view at 11.00 AM on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday and daily in the summer. Inside the grounds, you have the option to tour The State Rooms, Royal Mews, gardens, and more. The Royal Mews are a working stable, steeped in royal history, with the opportunity to view the iconic 260-year-old Gold State Coach. Tour The Queen’s Gallery to cast your eyes on priceless artistic pieces and artifacts. There are also fabulous global exhibitions, including a collection exploring 300 years of cultural exchange between the British and Japanese royal and imperial families, including rare pieces of porcelain, samurai armor, embroidery, and diplomatic gifts. With so much to see and do, it’s recommended to spend between 2-4 hours. Conclusion Both Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace are incredible buildings. If you’re a history buff, art lover, jewelry aficionado, or just looking for some great photos to boost your feed, you won’t be disappointed after visiting these 2 iconic landmarks. They’re also both perfectly situated, surrounded by plenty of other attractions such as Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben.
Adam Fraiel
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Did You Know? 10 Facts About Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Situated on London’s Bankside, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre reconstructs the open-air playhouse where the playwright penned his greatest work. Many people ask: What was the name of Shakespeare's Theatre? The Globe Theatre is its official name! Take a look at our 10 dramatic Shakespeare's Globe Theatre facts, including... The remarkable story of the first Globe Theatre And how it burnt down The remarkable story of the new Shakespeare's Globe Theatre And how they've tried to protect it from burning down like the last one 1. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was built 400 years after the original, just yards away Completed in 1997, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is the third Globe Theatre to have been built on the Southbank of the Thames. The original Globes were located just a street further back from the river. The original globe theatre was built in 1599, and was destroyed by fire in 1613. It was rebuilt a year later but turned into tenement buildings in 1644 after puritanical fears about stage plays meant London theatres were forced to close in 1642. 2. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was rebuilt to be as similar to the original Globe as possible The Third Globe—what is known as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre—was designed to be as close to Globes One and Three as possible. A great deal of research went into the shape and layout of the original theatres, and the type of wood and building techniques used. It is made of the same wood—green oak—the original builders would have used, and the timbers are fixed together using wooden pegs. Of course, modern health and safety measures had to be incorporated into the design, including the lining of the thatched roof with fire-retardant material. 3. Building the original Globe was a drama in itself The original Globe was built by the theatre company Shakespeare was in, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later known as the King’s Men). It was erected using timbers recycled from The Theatre in Shoreditch, the first playhouse to put on Shakespeare’s work. Their old landlord, a Mr Allen, wouldn’t say ‘recycled’. He’d prefer the word ‘stolen’. The story goes that Mr Allen refused to renew their lease for the land The Theatre stood on. So the company—including Shakespeare—armed with daggers and cudgels, snuck onto Allen’s land while he was away for Christmas. They took all the main timbers and stored them in a yard north of the Thames. 4. Shakespeare was part-owner of the theatre The family of Richard Burbage, the company’s leading actor, had built The Theatre at Shoreditch, but didn’t have the money to lease a site for the new playhouse. So they asked for investment from some members of the company. William Shakespeare became a 12.5% shareholder in the Globe Theatre, paying £10 for his share. Now they just needed someone to write some hugely popular plays so they could get bums on the seats and returns on their investment... 5. It’s always been a midsummer destination Because of its open-air aspect, The Globe has always been a fair-weather destination for watching a performance. Back in Shakespeare’s time, the company would move indoors to perform during winter. The same is true today, with winter performances taking play in the adjoining Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. But tours of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, which offer a wealth of insights into the theatre as it was in The Bard’s time and as it operates today, are available year-round. They are free with a London Pass. You can also check out other fascinating things to do in London in our write-up. 6. Shakespeare referenced the Globe in his work Henry V mentions “this wooden O,” in the play of the same name. Prospero speaks of “the great globe itself,” in a pivotal moment during The Tempest. It makes sense that he would. Firstly, as a tribute to a place that was so important to him. Also, there’s something particularly engaging and inclusive about someone on stage referring to the place where all the players and the crowd are assembled—“Good evening, Glastonbury!” 7. He might have paraphrased its motto It is said—although sources are pretty thin on the ground—that the motto of the Globe was Totus mundus agit histrionem, meaning ‘The whole world is a playhouse.’ This is remarkably similar to the famous phrase from As You Like It: “All the world is a stage.” 8. They used to flag up the genre Different flags were used to signpost what kind of play was being performed that day. Flying high above the theatre, they were a good way of advertising the genre of the performance, or notifying prospective theatre-goers of a last-minute cancellation. This was true of many Elizabethan theatres. Black flags were raised for tragedy plays. Red ones announced history plays. Comedies were signalled by the flying of white flags. So that’s why they didn’t put on my one-man show, The Tragic Life of a Very Funny Person Who Lived a Billion Years Ago. It wasn’t that it was a steaming pile of pretentious nonsense. It was a question of flags. Of course! 9. They built it along the lines of the Colosseum in Rome (just a bit smaller) Many Elizabethan playhouses were. The tiered seating areas ring around the stage. In the past, they could hold up to 3000 spectators, but now spectators get a little more wiggle room for when legs start twitching around Act Four. Those watching from ‘The Pit’, the standing area at the foot of the stage, were (not very respectfully) nicknamed ‘groundlings’. These were the cheaper than cheap seats. So cheap that they weren’t seats at all. But you could watch plays from the pit for just a penny. In Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre—the theatre that stands today—this is still the most affordable place from which to watch a performance. Nowadays, you can get tickets for as little as a fiver. 10. Henry VIII burnt down Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Woah! You clicked on it! A history-related bit of clickbait. AHAHAHA GOTCHA! Alright, sorry, this site doesn’t work like that. It wasn’t that Henry VIII burnt down Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. He did a lot of terrible things in his time. But he was dead nearly 20 years before Shakespeare was born. On June 29th, 1613, during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, some small cannons were fired, with no balls inside them, but using real gunpowder. The thatched roof caught alight. The whole thing burned down in around an hour. No one was hurt. But one man’s trousers caught fire. Luckily, someone close to him threw some beer over the flames. So, those were our Shakespeare's Globe Theatre fun facts. But before you exit this blog (pursued by a bear), take a look at our guide to taking the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre tour here. It's free with The London Pass®. Make planning your trip a breeze with the London Pass Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour is included in The London Pass®. This guided tour gives you an insider look at this historic theatre, outside of the performances.   The standard tour price is £24 - with The London Pass®, you’ll pay nothing at the door. You’ll spend more of your trip exploring the capital’s top sights and less time organising. Save with The London Pass® here So let's wrap up the important points below: The Globe Theatre's famous beginnings The Globe Theatre, intimately tied to William Shakespeare, stands as an icon in the world of theatre. Built in 1599 and nestled in London's heart, this venue was the birthplace of many Shakespearean masterpieces. A curious detail? The timbers framing this historic theatre were sourced from an older playhouse. Shakespeare's Stage: More than just a theatre The Globe was more than a venue; it was where stories came alive. Although widely acknowledged as Shakespeare's playground, its true identity lay in its name, the Globe Theatre. Sitting by London's River Thames, its distinct round shape became the home for Shakespeare's legendary tales. Most of his plays were performed on this very stage. And for those curious about its capacity? The Globe had space for about 3,000 attendees, who usually opted to stand in its open air yard. Rediscovering the Globe today Thinking of visiting London? Excited to walk where Shakespeare once did? There's good news! A tribute, aptly named 'Shakespeare's Globe', stands a stone's throw away from where the original once did. This re-engineered attraction represents Shakespeare's lasting impact. Don't miss out on this amazing experience! Globe Theatre frequently asked questions (FAQs) Q. What did Shakespeare do in the Globe Theatre? A. At the Globe Theatre, William Shakespeare not only penned some of his most iconic plays but also acted and was a shareholder in the theatre's operations. Q. Does Shakespeare's Globe Theatre still exist? A. While the original Globe Theatre no longer stands, a faithful replica, known as "Shakespeare's Globe," was constructed close to its original site and stands today as a testament to the Bard's enduring legacy. Q. Why is Shakespeare's theatre called the Globe? A. Shakespeare's theatre was named "the Globe" because it symbolized the idea that the theatre looked like a "wooden O" representing the world, as mentioned in the prologue to his play, Henry V. Q. What plays did Shakespeare write in the Globe Theatre? A. While at the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare wrote several of his renowned works, including Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet, among others.   Save on London attractions and explore the city to your heart’s content Planning your London trip? With The London Pass®, you can explore big-name landmarks, local hotspots and epic tours, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets. ​ ☀️See London attractions☀️ –  ✈️ Buy a pass ✈️
Matthew Pearson

The Multi Story Orchestra - Bold Tendencies, Peckham

We went to see The Multi Story Orchestra play Vivaldi's Four Seasons, as re-imagined by modern German-born British composer Max Richter. True to their name, they performed the piece in Peckham's multi-storey car park. Here's what we discovered during this unique musical event. The Multi Story Orchestra is a collective of young, exciting professional musicians, who perform in car parks (and some more traditional venues) across the UK Max Richter, a German-born British composer, is famed for his contemporary classical work, including soundtracks for film and TV Bold Tendencies, Peckham is an innovative arts venue located on the top floors of Peckham's multi-storey car park A Car Park in Peckham Isn't it amazing what you can get up to in a car park in Peckham? The neighbourhood is growing upwards. Across the way is the Rooftop Film Club at the Bussey Building. And right here on the rooftop of the Peckham Multi Story Car Park is Bold Tendencies. A not-for-profit arts organisation, Bold Tendencies put on a full programme of live music, opera, dance and literature across the top few floors of the car park. Since 2007, they've commissioned artworks and architecture which sit atop the car park, constantly evolving the site with sculptures and installations. There’s a bar and restaurant, Frank’s Cafe, that’s been open since 2009. And they’ve got something of a house band. Well, a house orchestra. Scratch that. They’ve got a car park orchestra . No! They’ve got something of a multi-storey car park orchestra. And they’re called The Multi Story Orchestra. The Multi Story Orchestra The Multi Story Orchestra are an exciting, progressively-minded orchestra, a collection of young freelance professional musicians who aim to increase accessibility to classical music through their annual program of live performances usually, but not always, held in car parks across the UK. They also put on a number of events in school halls and playgrounds, and run choir projects that bring school students in to perform alongside the orchestra. Under the artistic direction of composer and pianist Kate Whitley and conductor Christopher Stark, The Multi Story Orchestra have been bringing classical music to unlikely venues across the country, reaching out to those who might otherwise have shied away from such music. Their progressively-structured ticket pricing and inclusive social outreach initiatives are complemented by their thoughtfully curated program of performed pieces. They’ve put on renditions of chamber music favourites by the likes of Debussy, Wagner and Bach; many orchestral masterpieces, including works by Schumann, Stravinsky and Haydn; and world premieres of contemporary pieces, including some of Whitley’s original compositions. They also put on daring modern reimaginings of centuries-old pieces, which is what we were treated to on our first visit to Bold Tendencies, seeing The Multi Story Orchestra in their penultimate 2019 performance at Bold Tendencies, performing Max Richter’s radical recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The Music Max Richter Max Richter is an ideal composer for The Multi Story Orchestra to work with. His contributions to contemporary classical music chime with the aims of the orchestra. They both reimagine classical music forms, and encourage the flow of classic music into new spaces, to new audiences. His works suggest a vision of harmony between classical and popular music, and play in the friction created. While often still operating on an orchestral scale, his works seem aimed towards headphones and streaming apps. His monumental 2015 piece Sleep is over eight hours long. Structured to accompany the listener’s sleep cycles it’s designed to be taken into bed with you. It’s designed to run on and on, uninterrupted by CD changes or the flipping of sheet music, on that most unclassical of devices: your phone. And here his work is performed in that most unclassical of places: a multi-storey car park in Peckham. Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons came out in 2012. An analog remix of Vivaldi’s original, it propels you on a new route through The Four Seasons and the four seasons. It’s propulsive from the beginning here in the multi-storey car park. The synthesiser pedal points that start Spring provide a forward motion for the bird chip violin shapes of the original. Together they run into shimmering clouds of ambience provided by the ‘looped’ string ensemble. Summer starts with uninterrupted quotations of Vivaldi’s original, leading into pulsing orchestral loops and breaks of bass-heavy ambience. Both find a fitting home on this late summer evening in the austere environment of the car park. The close of Summer sees soloist Francesca Baritt’s virtuosic violin ride a pulsing, atmospheric wave into Autumn. Autumn, a season of change, requires perhaps the most dexterity from the orchestra. Richter finds the shift of the season in polyrhythms and melodic lines that puncture themselves on the rhythmic spikes, before recomposing themselves through the final sections of Autumn. It’s impressive stuff to witness live and to witness here. The final act sees more unrestrained, fearless soloing from Baritt, accompanied at times by overground trains leaving Peckham Rye. They’ve been doing that throughout. By the final act they are just another member of the ensemble, playing the ambience to at least Grade 8. The middle section of Winter is glacially slow and frosty in its arrangement, strongly reminiscent of the scores Richter has composed for TV and film. Finally, the last piece of Winter sees the ensemble falling down in steps, closing the cycle, shutting the door, turning their backs on the cold. When the whole piece closes, summer has truly been laid to rest in a multi-storey car park in Peckham. Summary The Multi Story Orchestra have their home. They have their young, exciting, committed players. And with Whitley and Stark, they clearly have a pair of artistic directors who know how to get the most from each. Bold Tendencies This arts venue and its bar/restaurant are open until 11pm, Tuesday to Sunday from the end of May until the end of September each year. Just a skip away from Peckham Rye station, they’re located at the top of the multi-storey car park that rises up above the Peckhamplex Cinema. Head to the right of the main Peckhamplex entrance, then head up the stairs into the main building. As you enter, a very pink staircase greets you. It's an artwork in itself. Follow the stairs up to the top. Step free access is available using elevators on the ground floor, but it’s best to arrange it in advance by emailing [email protected]. Keep an eye on the Bold Tendencies website for what they’ve got coming up next year. And head to the Multi Story Orchestra website for upcoming events. So that was our trip to see the Multi Story Orchestra at Bold Tendencies, Peckham. And if you've got some tips for unusual gigs in London, let us know in the comments below. If you're looking for more tips, here's another we enjoyed.
Matthew Pearson

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