Monday, 1 May 2017

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Windsor

As a service to collectors Royal Mail has a number of pictorial postmarks in use for different cities. Each postmark shows a famous landmark and is available at one of the Special Handstamp Centres.

The Europa stamps 2017 have the central theme 'castles'. The British stamp has Windsor Castle on it. Since there is just one Europa stamp and it is only possible to buy the complete series of six stamps, I decided to use two stamps to obtain the Windsor postmark. The envelope was sent back in a plastic bag, a perfect service by Royal Mail.

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 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 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.

The postmark (number 4680) can be obtained by writing to London Special Handstamp Center, Royal Mail, Mount Pleasant, Farringdon Road, London, EC1A 1BB, United Kingdom.
Images of all pictorial postmarks can be seen on the website of Norvik Philatelics:

Date sent: 18 April 2017
Date postmark: 24 April 2017
Date received: 26 April 2017
Number of days: 8
Envelope in collection: 18

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