Touring England's Palaces & Castles

While on our vacation, we toured many of England's palaces and castles...each one unique and uniquely impressive! Here's a glimpse inside each one, with a few touring tips.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is available for touring, but only when the Queen is not in residence. And she was in residence when we were there, so we satisfied ourselves with watching the changing of the guard. We had hoped to arrive one hour early, but got delayed and arrived to find it just beginning and the crowds fully assembled. 

The flowers! Springtime in England!

There is the parade of troops with musical accompaniment which happens outside the palace gates. I must say that the one thing that was most surprising to me of the entire trip was the music played by the palace guard band. I would've expected national tunes or something militaristic. But it was show tunes...Putting on the Ritz, and such. Very surprising.

Then they proceed through the grand gates.

Now you can see why I advise arriving at least an hour early. I felt fortunate to have a vantage point this close to the gates! Even with a good zoom lens, it was nearly impossible to crop the bars out of the camera's view. So mostly, I just enjoyed it without too many photographs...such pageantry! And the dog!

The statue of Queen Victoria which sits in front of Buckingham Palace.

The flags around Buckingham Palace are made of a heavy cotton and stitched, giving them a weighty grandeur, when they billow in the breeze, which is a beautiful sight to behold.

Edinburgh Castle

High atop a rocky hill in the middle of the city of Edinburgh soars Edinburgh Castle. It has protected the city since the 12th century. We highly recommend the audio guide to the castle!

The 16th century portcullis gate.

Cannon can be seen poking through their openings. One can see why it was the best defense of the city, as it has a commanding view of the city, the surrounding countryside, and the North Sea.

Windsor Castle

This is also an official residence of the Queen, but she was not in residence, so we were able to tour. Sadly, no photography is allowed inside. The aim is to "wow" and does it ever! SO impressive with its arms, suits of armor, china, silver, chandeliers, fine art, tapestries, and so much more! We went in the late afternoon, which meant that we avoided the crowds almost completely.

We were told that the Queen's Guards are a special division of the military. There are a number of troops, and they take turns guarding the royal palaces. Colette read that there is quite a bit of controversy over their hats. Apparently, each one takes one bear to make. So, there is a movement afoot to make them from artificial fur.

Hampton Court Palace

This palace, home to King Henry VIII, is outside of London. It is about a 45-min. trip by train to get to it. Quite simple really. The train lets you off almost at the palace, and the signage is excellent to direct you to way to go. It was used by Henry VIII and successive kings and queens up through the Georgian period, so the architectural style spans centuries.

The great hall, where feasts would've been held. Can you imagine?!?!

This is just one of the cooking fireplaces in Henry VIII's kitchen.

The Tudor rooms of Henry VIII are in stark contrast to the Georgian rooms, with their French influence.

The palace is built around a stunning center courtyard.

Allow plenty of time to visit the extensive gardens, for they are captivating!

Our favorite feature of the gardens was found in the Privy Garden...this enormously long arbor! Simply astounding! It's probably about 2-stories high and maybe as long as a football field.

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