Windsor
Windsor Castle

Visitors on the Autism Spectrum: Windsor Castle

General Information for a Visit to Windsor Castle

A visit to Windsor Castle typically lasts from two to three hours. Visitors can tour the State Apartments; the Semi-State Rooms (October-March); Drawings Gallery; Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House; and St George’s Chapel at their leisure using the free audio tour, which lasts approximately 90 minutes. Guided Tours of the precincts – the outdoors area within the walls – which are included in the admission price, depart at half-hourly intervals and last for around 30 minutes.

All visitors who require an access companion to visit with them are entitled to a complimentary ticket for that companion. All visitors should be aware that the Castle is situated at the top of a steep hill and they may have to walk long distances.

Arrivals and Admissions

The visitor entrance to Windsor Castle is at the top of Castle Hill on the right-hand side. It is not the gateway on the left, which is manned by armed police and is the Castle exit.

At the Admission Centre there are four routes:

  • Pre-paid tickets  and vouchers
  • Ticket sales
  • Ticket holders
  • Group ticket sales

If you wish to purchase a ticket join the queue for the next available till. The different ticket options are: adult, over 60/student, under 17 and under 5s. All visitors who require an access companion are entitled to a free ticket for that companion.

During the summer months, and on days when the Changing the Guard ceremony takes place, Windsor Castle can be very busy and the queue will extend out of the Admission Centre and down the road.

If you, or someone in your party, is on the autism spectrum and finds queuing difficult, please ask to speak to the Admissions Supervisor who may be able to arrange a quicker entrance time.

Security Hall

All visitors to Windsor Castle must go through a security search. This security area is located just after you pass through the Admission Centre. It is a bright, noisy space that can get busy and often involves queuing.

All visitors must following the instructions of the wardens. Visitors will be asked to put their bags through an x-ray machine and all metallic items – keys, coins, mobile phones etc. –  must be removed from pockets and put into your bag. Visitors will be asked to walk through a metal detecting arch. The metal detecting arch makes a loud noise if it detects something metal. If that happens, staff will use a hand-held detector and wave it around your body to find out what set-off the alarm. The detector should not touch your body. Often a watch or metal belt buckle will have caused the alarm to sound.

Once you have passed through security and collected your belongings you will be asked to show your ticket to a warden as you exit the Security Hall. They will tear off the stub and give you the ticket back. You will then go outside into a courtyard. After you have exited the Security Hall there are steps going down which can be difficult to see.

The Courtyard

Outside there are a number of options:

1. Audio Tour:

The building in front of you as you exit the Security Hall is where you can collect an electronic audio tour. The audio tour tells you about the history of the Castle, the role of The Queen and her use of the Castle and about a number of the works of art displayed in the State Apartments. You can stop and restart the audio tour at any point. If you listen to all of the tour it will take you about 90 minutes. The audio tour can be used with or without headphones. If used without, you should hold it like a mobile phone. If it is busy visitors should enter the audio tour distribution building using the door facing you on the left and exit via the right-hand side.

2. Guided Precinct Tour Meeting Point:

You can choose to join a precinct tour. These depart from the courtyard at regular intervals and are led by a uniformed warden. Daily tour times are advertised on a board outside the audio guide building.

3. Shop:

This is the first of several shops in the Castle. You can purchase an Official Souvenir Guide, bottled water and a number of other commemorative items. There is fluorescent lighting on some of the displays.

4. Lavatories:

Lavatories are located down the steps on the far left-hand side of the Courtyard. An accessible lavatory is located to the right of the audio guide building. If you would prefer to use this, but do not have a RADAR key to open the door, please ask a  warden for access.

There is a map of the Castle, in the Courtyard, in-between the audio building and the shop. 

Getting to the State Apartments

The route to the State Apartments is through an archway signed ‘To the Castle’, on the right-hand side of the Courtyard

Walking up the hill:

As you walk up the hill you may encounter large groups of people and traffic. The site can be noisy and the Castle is under the flight path to Heathrow. You will pass the Jubilee Bandstand on the right, sometimes on a Sunday during the summer months a military band play here. If you are intending to visit on a Sunday in July or August you can ask a member of staff if the band will be playing. Bench seating is provided around the Jubilee bandstand.

Middle Ward

Follow the road around the bottom of the Round Tower and you will enter what’s known as the ‘Middle Ward’. This can be a busy area with lots of tour groups and parked cars. From here you get a good view down to the ‘Lower Ward’ and St George’s Chapel.

At Middle Ward you have a number of options for continuing your visit:

1. Middle Ward shop:

This shop can be busy during the summer months. There is a noisy heater over the entrance door, some restricted space and lots of columns and mirrors. Tills are located in the centre at the back of the shop and on the right-hand side as you enter. A machine selling bottled water is located just inside on the left-hand side. This shop has the largest range of merchandise and a home delivery service is available.
An online shop is available at www.royalcollectionshop.co.uk

2. St George’s Chapel:

Closes at 4pm. The Chapel has all the usual sensory hazards associated with religious buildings, stained glass; organ music; incense; echoes; small and sometimes crowded spaces and aisles (see below).

3. The Changing the Guard ceremony:

Takes place on alternate days. Crowds gather to watch the ceremony, in the Lower Ward, which is accompanied by a military band (see below).

4. The State Apartments:

Accessed via the gateway to the North Terrace.

The North Terrace

Visitors should be aware of the relatively low wall on the North Terrace which has a sheer drop down the hill on the other side. There are more lavatory and baby nappy-changing  facilities on the North Terrace. To access the accessible lavatory or baby nappy-changing facilities please ask a warden. The main lavatories here can have an intense smell of air freshener. There are reflective surfaces, flickering overhead lights and noisy hand-driers.

There is a long walk, along the North Terrace, to the entrance to the State Apartments. During the summer months queues form to go inside the Castle. The sequence of things to see inside is as follows:

  • Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House
  • The Drawings Gallery
  • The China Museum
  • The State Apartments, via the Grand Staircase

You have two entry options:

  • Enter via Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – a small, dark, often crowded space – from where you can access the Drawings Gallery, the China Museum and then the State Apartments (see below).
  • Enter via the Grand Entrance from where you can access the Drawings Gallery, the China Museum and then the State Apartments.

Ask a warden if you are unsure which route to take. Entrance to the State Apartments is usually quicker via the Grand Entrance.

Queen Mary's Dolls' House

The Dolls’ House is located in a small, dark room which is often crowded with slow-moving people. There is an extreme contrast in light levels from outside to inside. Visitors walk around the four sides of the House, at the narrowest the width of the passage is only 5ft. You can, if preferred, view the Dolls’ House at: www.royalcollection.org.uk/queenmarysdollshouse

The Drawings Gallery

This small gallery space displays various exhibitions of items from the Royal Collection. The space is entered via the door on the left-hand side. The door on the right is the exit. The space can get busy at peak times, from 11:30 to 14:00. Exhibitions in the Drawings Gallery can also be explored at: www.royalcollection.org.uk/exhibitions

The China Museum

Before you reach the State Apartments you pass through the China Museum. It is here that you must leave any large bags (rucksacks, suitcases) and pushchairs. Baby carrying slings or hip seats are available to borrow for use during this part of the tour. From here you go up the Grand Staircase into the State Apartments.

The State Apartments

The route through the State Apartments is one way. Lighting is mostly provided by antique fittings rather than modern fluorescent lighting. Heating is provided via hot air vents, which always make some background noise. As the Castle is an historic building the floorboards may creak loudly in certain places. Seating is available in every room on request. Ask a warden if you would like to know where to sit down. In the event of an emergency evacuation, an alarm may sound and uniformed wardens will direct visitors out through the nearest emergency exit.

From the end of September to March the visit includes the Semi-State Apartments, and is as follows:

  • Grand Vestibule – spacious
  • Waterloo Chamber – the entrance can get crowded
  • Garter Ante Chamber
  • King’s Drawing Room
  • King’s Bedchamber – small and often crowded
  • King’s Dressing Room – small and often crowded
  • King’s Closet – small and often crowded
  • Queen’s Drawing Room – seating available
  • King’s Dining Room – dark, no windows
  • Queen’s Ballroom
  • Queen’s Audience Chamber - dark
  • Queen’s Presence Chamber – dark with noisy heaters near the windows.
  • Queen’s Guard Chamber – easy access out of the State Apartments if required.
  • St George’s Hall – large and spacious with seating. Easy access out of the State Apartments if required.
  • Lantern Lobby – small, dark space
  • Crimson Drawing Room
  • State Dining Room
  • Octagon Dining Room
  • China Corridor – very narrow
  • Grand Reception Room
  • Garter Throne Room
  • Waterloo Chamber (again) – noisy heaters
  • St George’s Hall (again)
  • Queen’s Guard Chamber (again)
  • Grand Vestibule (again)

From April to the end of September visitors walk through the following rooms in order:

  • Grand Vestibule – spacious
  • Waterloo Chamber – the entrance can get crowded
  • Garter Ante Chamber
  • King’s Drawing Room
  • King’s Bedchamber – small and often crowded
  • King’s Dressing Room – small and often crowded
  • King’s Closet – small and often crowded
  • Queen’s Drawing Room – seating available
  • King’s Dining Room – dark, no windows
  • Queen’s Ballroom
  • Queen’s Audience Chamber - dark
  • Queen’s Presence Chamber – dark with noisy heaters near the windows.
  • Queen’s Guard Chamber – easy access out of the State Apartments if required.
  • St George’s Hall – large and spacious with seating. Easy access out of the State Apartments if required.
  • Lantern Lobby – small, dark space
  • Grand Reception Room
  • Garter Throne Room
  • Waterloo Chamber (again) – noisy heaters.
  • St George’s Hall (again)
  • Queen’s Guard Chamber (again)
  • Grand Vestibule (again)

After exiting the Grand Vestibule visitors go downstairs into a narrow darkened space, where they will find the exit from the State Apartments.

Engine Court

Bench seating is available in Engine Court. The flooring is cobbled and uneven in place. From here you have the following options:

  • Visit Engine Court shop.
  • Return to Middle Ward, via the gateway, and visit St George’s Chapel.
  • Return to the Middle Ward, via the gateway, and walk down to the Lower Ward where you will find the exit – Henry VIII Gate.

As you walk down the hill you’ll see the green umbrella where you must return your electronic audio tour. More accessible lavatories are located in Engine Court, to the right of the shop. Please ask a warden if you wish to use these but do not have a RADAR key.

St George's Chapel

St George’s Chapel is open daily, except on Sundays when it is open for worshippers only. Visitors are welcome to join services in the Chapel. The Chapel is entered via a heavy wooden door, which is often closed. The Chapel has all the usual sensory hazards associated with religious buildings, stained glass; organ music; incense; echoes; noisy heaters, flickering lights, small, sometimes crowded spaces, and aisles. The best time to visit is usually around 10:00. You exit the Chapel into a small gift shop, located in the Chapel Cloisters. This space can get crowded. You cannot walk around the Cloisters. From the shop, the exit is through the large wooden door marked ‘Exit’. You will pass through a large porch area before exiting outside.

Changing the Guard

The ceremony takes place at 11:00 daily, except for Sundays, from April until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the year, weather permitting. There is no ceremony on Sundays. The ceremony lasts approximately 30 minutes and is accompanied by a Military band. Throughout the day the Guards on sentry duty change and smaller groups of Guards march within the Castle precincts. The Guards do not march around people; they expect the public to move out of their way and will shout ‘Make way for The Queen’s Guard’. If you hear this, you should move out of their way immediately.

Henry VIII Gate

You exit via a gateway, which is manned by armed police. Please return any electronic audio tours at the green umbrella by the exit gate. If you try to leave the Castle with your audio tour an alarm will sound as you walk through the gateway.  A member of staff will ask you to return it. If you bought your ticket directly from us, you can convert it into a 1-Year Pass, giving 12 months free re-admission, by signing and printing your name on the reverse of your ticket and asking a warden  to stamp and validate it for you. You should then keep this ticket and bring it with you for future visits to the Castle. If you require any further information to help plan your visit, please e-mail specialistsales@royalcollection.org.uk

Additional tours of the Castle

At certain time of the year it is possible to purchase an additional ticket to visit other areas of the Castle – the Great Kitchen and the Round Tower. These tours are additional to the standard visit detailed in this document and have a limited ticket availability. For more information on when these special tours run and how to purchase a ticket, please e-mail specialistsales@royalcollection.org.uk