12:32PM, Saturday 30 May 2020
Tourism has been put on hold as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, but as the Government begins to ease England out of lockdown Windsor will one day be open again. Reporter Amy Horsfield speaks to Royal Borough visitor manager Julia White about what the town has to offer.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus many industries have been dealt a devastating blow, but perhaps the hardest hit is the world of tourism and hospitality.
As countries across the world go into lockdown and both international and local travel comes to a temporary end, even day trips are implausible but Royal Borough visitor manager Julia White is keen to remind everyone what Windsor has to offer visitors when the world opens up.
On Sunday, May 10, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a national address in which he outlined England’s plans to get out of the lockdown.
This includes the reopening of outdoor markets from June 1 and non essential shops from June 15. It's still non known when restaurants and pubs will be given the green light by government to reopen.
Julia is appealing to Windsor residents to help support businesses in the town and exploring what their town has to offer.
“Local residents are going to be the first ones wanting to come back and make use of the facilities,” she said.
“This is the perfect opportunity to rediscover what’s on their doorstep.”
When the country begins to ease out of lockdown, the Royal Borough is looking to Windsor residents to help give the town’s economy the boost it needs.
“Local people have been supporting local businesses and we want to make sure that continues when more of them open up,” Julia said.
“For many they have been struggling before the virus hit and it has tipped them over the edge.
“We don’t know if everyone will be there when we open up,” she added.
Since the beginning of the outbreak the home and fashion store Laura Ashley and Italian restaurant Carluccio's have both closed after the companies went into administration.
“It’s an extremely stressful time.
“You feel huge sympathy for them.”
Other companies have been adapting to keep business going through the pandemic.
“It’s more important than ever that we are supporting local businesses.”
Windsor and Eton Brewery now offer a home delivery and drive-through service and restaurants and cafes have been taking orders for take-away.
A full list of eateries offering take-out service can be found here on the Royal Borough website.
“We have so many fabulous independent restaurants it’s really difficult to choose,” Julia said.
Even though the pandemic has brought tourism in Windsor to a temporary halt, it has not stopped tour guide Amanda Bryett from taking visitors on a virtual expedition of the historic town.
Amanda set up Windsor Tourist Guides after living in the town for more than 25 years and obtaining a blue badge certificate, the highest level of guiding qualification in the UK.
Through the pandemic Amanda is continuing to share her fascination with history and the monarchy by offering online tours.
Visit www.windsortouristguides.co.uk to learn more.
On Wednesday, May 13 after Boris Johnson announced easing of some lockdown restrictions, Windsor Great Park reopened some of its car parks.
Residents are also allowed to have a picnic with members of their own household in the Great Park and Dorney Lake.
As for Julia’s ideal day trip in Windsor once the town is open again to the public she is not short of inspiration.
“My perfect day in Windsor involves a visit to the Castle which now offers new audio tours which are interactive.
“I would go to the riverside and either go out on a French Brothers boat or rent a rowing boat.
“If I rent my own boat I might want to have someone strong with me who can do the rowing.”
When it comes to where to eat lunch, she is spoilt for choice.
“Go Go’s restaurant at the riverside and the Riverside Brasserie are really lovely.”
She also recommends The Brasserie at the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel and Spa.
“If it’s a lovely day sit outside on the terrace.
“Then do some shopping in between and your day is done.”
No day in Windsor is complete without a browse around the high street and Julia says a day out in the shops will be even more special after lockdown.
“To be able to go back to shops in Windsor will be such a treat.
“It will be interesting to see what is open when we come out the other side.”
For people who would rather soak up Windsor’s history rather than browse the shops, it’s not just the Castle that is oozing with past secrets.
“So many of us are so blasé about what’s on our doorstep,” Julia commented.
Windsor Guildhall, built in 1689 by Sir Christopher Wren after the foundations were set by Sir Thomas Fitz, has more recently hosted Prince Charles’ marriage to Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005 and Sir Elton John and David Furnish’s 2014 wedding.
The Guildhall is also home to the Windsor and Royal Borough Museum, which features among its numerous historical artefacts a 100,000-year-old mammoth’s tusk.
The tusk was discovered along the River Thames together with evidence of early human settlements dating back 8,000 years.
Although the museum is closed to visitors for the foreseeable future, the Royal Borough website guides viewers on a 360 virtual tour of the Windsor Guildhall and Museum.
In the 17th Century, actress and Windsor resident Nell Gwyn had an affair which spanned decades with King Charles II until his death of syphilis in 1685.
Her home on 6 Church Street remains there to this day and rumour has it an underground passageway was built between her home and Windsor Castle to allow the couple to carry out their affair in secret.
As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s vital everyone maintains social distancing and follows the government guidelines.
But until then Windsor has adapted to accommodate residents as much as possible and once it is safe to open up again many people will be amazed by what awaits them.
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