Portal:Berkshire

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Berkshire (/ˈbɑːrkʃər/, abbreviated Berks, in the 17th century sometimes spelled Barkeshire as it is pronounced) is a county in south east England, west of London and is one of the home counties. It was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, and letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin and is a home county, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council.

The historic boundary to the north of Berkshire follows the River Thames, from Buscot to Old Windsor. Therefore, the historic county includes territory that is now administered by the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire districts of Oxfordshire, but excludes Slough and Eton, which are historically in Buckinghamshire. Berkshire County Council was the main local government of the county from 1889 to 1998 and was based in Reading, though the County Borough of Reading was administered separately until 1974. In 1974, the county's administrative boundaries were significantly altered. The traditional county town of Abingdon and the areas around Didcot and Wantage were transferred to Oxfordshire, while Slough was added from Buckinghamshire.

Since 1998, Berkshire has been governed by the six unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham. Berkshire borders the counties of Oxfordshire (to the north), Buckinghamshire (to the north-east), Greater London (to the east), Surrey (to the south-east), Wiltshire (to the west) and Hampshire (to the south). Read more...

Selected article

Viewed from the Long Walk

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is notable for its long association with the English and later British royal family and for its architecture.

The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by the reigning monarch and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The castle's lavish early 19th-century State Apartments were described by the art historian Hugh Roberts as "a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste". Inside the castle walls is the 15th-century St George's Chapel, considered by the historian John Martin Robinson to be "one of the supreme achievements of English Perpendicular Gothic" design.

Originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London and oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, Windsor Castle was built as a motte-and-bailey, with three wards surrounding a central mound. Gradually replaced with stone fortifications, the castle withstood a prolonged siege during the First Barons' War at the start of the 13th century. Henry III built a luxurious royal palace within the castle during the middle of the century, and Edward III went further, rebuilding the palace to make an even grander set of buildings in what would become "the most expensive secular building project of the entire Middle Ages in England". Edward's core design lasted through the Tudor period, during which Henry VIII and Elizabeth I made increasing use of the castle as a royal court and centre for diplomatic entertainment.

Windsor Castle survived the tumultuous period of the English Civil War, when it was used as a military headquarters by Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. At the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II rebuilt much of Windsor Castle with the help of the architect Hugh May, creating a set of extravagant Baroque interiors that are still admired. After a period of neglect during the 18th century, George III and George IV renovated and rebuilt Charles II's palace at colossal expense, producing the current design of the State Apartments, full of Rococo, Gothic and Baroque furnishings. Queen Victoria made a few minor changes to the castle, which became the centre for royal entertainment for much of her reign. Windsor Castle was used as a refuge by the royal family during the Luftwaffe bombing campaigns of the Second World War and survived a fire in 1992. It is a popular tourist attraction, a venue for hosting state visits, and the preferred weekend home of Elizabeth II. Read more...

Selected biography

Middleton stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the Royal Wedding in 2011

Carole Elizabeth Middleton (née Goldsmith; born 31 January 1955) is a former flight attendant turned businesswoman, and mother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her siblings, Pippa Middleton and James Middleton.

Middleton's first grandchild, Prince George of Cambridge, was born on 22 July 2013 and is third in the line of succession to the British throne. On 2 May 2015, her first granddaughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, was born, who is now fourth in line to succeed to the British throne. Her second grandson, Prince Louis of Cambridge, was born on 23 April 2018 and is fifth in line to succeed to the British throne. Read more...

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Recent events

19 May 2018 – Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle takes place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. They are given the titles the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. (BBC)

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