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Windsor (wĭnˈzər) [key], town (1991 pop. 31,544), Windsor and Maidenhead, S central England, on the Thames River. There is some light industry and printing. The town is a popular tourist destination; the Danish toymaker Lego opened a Legoland amusement park there in 1996. In Elizabethan times about 70 inns enlivened Windsor. Christopher Wren designed the town hall, and Grinling Gibbons did much of the wood carving in the Church of St. John the Baptist.

The town's importance derives from Windsor Castle, the chief residence of English rulers since William I. The castle was improved and rebuilt by successive sovereigns. Henry II erected the Round Tower, and Edward IV began the construction of St. George's Chapel, one of the most splendid churches in England, where the Knights of the Garter are installed with medieval ceremony. In the chapel are buried several of England's kings. Some vaults are used to store art treasures, national archives, and museum collections.

The modern castle, which contains about 1,000 rooms and occupies 13 acres (5 hectares), consists of three "wards"—the upper, middle, and lower. In 1992 a fire in the upper ward destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms; restoration was completed in 1997. The castle proper lies in the Home Park, and beyond it, separated by the tree-lined Long Walk, is the Great Park. In Frogmore, the royal mausoleum, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are buried. On the castle grounds is a large lake named Virginia Water.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish Political Geography

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