The Undercroft Café, Windsor Castle Featured Image

Table of Contents

I. A Timeless Tranquility: Unveiling the Undercroft Café

Nestled within the majestic walls of Windsor Castle, The Undercroft Café offers timeless tranquillity to weary explorers. This unique eatery isn’t your average castle refreshment stop. Amidst the grandeur of British history, visitors can savour delicious food and beverages while surrounded by an atmosphere steeped in centuries of royal intrigue.

The Undercroft Café is a particularly special place in Windsor Castle. Located on the ground floor beneath St George’s Hall, its space boasts a fascinating past. Dating back to the reign of King Edward III in the 14th Century, the Undercroft served a crucial purpose – it was the castle’s principal cellar. Imagine the cool, cavernous space echoing with the clinking of barrels as countless gallons of wine and beer were stored for royal feasts and celebrations.

II. A Journey Through Time: The Undercroft’s Enduring Legacy

Undercroft Cafe @ Windsor UK – Jimmy & Good Eats in (England)

The Undercroft Café’s story begins with something other than steaming cups of coffee and freshly baked pastries. Instead, it’s a narrative woven into the very fabric of Windsor Castle’s history, spanning centuries and witnessing the reigns of numerous monarchs. Let’s delve into this fascinating journey:

A. From Royal Cellar to Humble Abode: The Undercroft’s Early Days (14th Century)

King Edward III’s Grand Reimagination (1350s-1360s):  The year is 1350, and King Edward III embarks on a monumental project – the transformation of Windsor Castle from a relatively modest fortress into a grand royal residence. As part of this ambitious undertaking, extensive renovations take place, and within these renovations lies the birth of the Undercroft. Constructed during the 1350s and 1360s, the Undercroft served a vital function – it became the castle’s principal cellar. The space’s cool, vaulted ceilings and dimly lit atmosphere created the perfect environment for storing vast quantities of wine and beer, essential provisions for the royal court.

B. Beyond the Barrels: The Undercroft’s Changing Roles (17th & 18th Centuries)

Charles II’s Functional Adaptations (1660s): Fast-forward a few centuries, and the Undercroft shifted purpose during King Charles II’s reign (1660-1685). While the space likely continued to house some stock, Charles II saw the potential for further utilization. The Undercroft was divided into various sections, accommodating a confectionery, a silver scullery, and even an eating area for the castle’s household staff.

C. Shifting Needs: The Undercroft’s Continued Evolution (19th & 20th Centuries)

The Undercroft Café, Windsor Castle 1
The Undercroft Café

As time progressed, the needs of Windsor Castle and its inhabitants continued to evolve. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Undercroft saw further adaptations. Additional space was created to accommodate the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, the Servants’ Hall, and even the Office of the Yeoman of the Pantry. This period reflects the Undercroft’s adaptability, transitioning from a single-purpose cellar to a more versatile space serving various castle operations.

D. A New Dawn: The Undercroft Café’s Transformation (2020)

The year 2020 marked a significant turning point for Undercroft’s story. Recognizing the growing desire for visitor amenities within Windsor Castle, the Royal Collection Trust transformed the Undercroft into a dedicated cafe. This transformation breathed new life into the historic space, allowing visitors to experience the unique atmosphere while enjoying delicious refreshments.

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III. Planning Your Regal Refreshment: Essential Information for Visitors

The Undercroft Café, Windsor Castle 2
The Undercroft Café

Dreaming of enjoying a delightful refreshment amidst the grandeur of Windsor Castle? The Undercroft Café awaits! But before embarking on your royal culinary adventure, here’s some essential information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

A. Opening Your Door to Regal Refreshment: The Undercroft Café’s Hours

The Undercroft Café offers its delicious fare to visitors throughout the week with consistent operating hours.

Please note: It’s always recommended to check the official Windsor Castle website or contact them directly before your visit to confirm the exact opening hours. There may be rare occasions when the cafe is closed due to unforeseen circumstances or special events within the castle.

B. Accessing Your Regal Refreshment: Reaching the Undercroft Café

Here’s how to access this hidden gem within Windsor Castle:

A Ticket to Regal Delights: Visiting the Undercroft Café requires a valid Windsor Castle admission ticket. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or upon arrival at the castle.

Separate Entrance? Not Quite:  The Undercroft Café has no separate entrance from the main castle grounds. To access the cafe, you must enter Windsor Castle with your valid ticket and navigate to the cafe’s location.

Finding Your Way:  Once inside the castle, the Undercroft Café is conveniently situated on the ground floor beneath St George’s Hall. Signage within the castle will guide you in the right direction.

Additional Tips: Windsor Castle is a popular tourist destination; plan your visit during off-peak hours or weekdays to avoid potential crowds and ensure a more relaxed experience at the Undercroft Café.

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IV. A Feast Fit for Royalty (or Commoners): Exploring the Undercroft Café’s Menu

The Undercroft Café, Windsor Castle 3
The Undercroft Café,

The Undercroft Café doesn’t just quench your thirst; it offers a culinary experience that complements the historical setting. Their menu boasts a delightful selection of hot and cold beverages alongside savoury and sweet treats to cater to various tastes. Let’s delve into the delicious offerings:

A. A Warm Welcome: Hot Beverages to Start Your Day (or Afternoon)

  • Classic Coffee Creations: Choose from various styles like espresso, cappuccino, latte, and americano.
  • Tea Time Delights: Explore a selection of loose-leaf teas encompassing a range of flavours, from traditional black teas to calming herbal infusions.
  • Hot Chocolate Indulgence: Rich and creamy hot chocolate provides a comforting and decadent option.

B. Refreshing Choices: Cold Beverages to Quench Your Thirst

  • Sparkling Refreshment: Opt for a light and bubbly beverage like chilled sparkling water or classic lemonade.
  • Fruity Delights: A selection of fruit juices offers a refreshing burst of flavour on a warm day.
  • Still Water and Soft Drinks: Classic water and popular soft drinks are also available.

C. Savory Delights: Sandwiches and Salads to Satisfy Your Hunger

  • Freshly Prepared Sandwiches: The Undercroft Café offers a selection of freshly prepared sandwiches daily. Options include classic fillings and more contemporary choices featuring various ingredients. Bread options may include white, brown bread, or baguettes.
  • Salads for a Lighter Bite: Explore the salad selection for a lighter yet satisfying option. These salads often feature seasonal ingredients and may include vegetarian or protein sources.

D. Sweet Endings: Desserts to Conclude Your Regal Feast

  • Classic Afternoon Tea Treats: Indulge in traditional afternoon tea fare like scones with clotted cream and jam.
  • Cakes and Pastries: A delightful selection of freshly baked cakes and pastries caters to those with a sweet tooth. These may include classics and more contemporary dessert options.
  • Seasonal Specialties: The Undercroft Café occasionally incorporates seasonal variations into its menu. For instance, during summer, you might find refreshing cold soups or lighter salad options.

E. Additional Notes

  • The cafe uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available.
  • The cafe caters to various dietary requirements.

Here’s a breakdown of the menu categories and some specific examples:

Hot Beverages:

  • Classic Coffee Creations (Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Americano)
  • Tea Time Delights (English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Oriental Sencha, etc.)
  • Hot Chocolate (Regular and Indulgent options)

Cold Beverages:

  • Sparkling Refreshment (Chilled sparkling water, Lemonade)
  • Fruity Delights (Fruit Juices)
  • Still Water and Soft Drinks (Classic water, Popular soft drinks)

Savory Delights:

  • Grab & Go:
    • Salads (Hot Smoked Salmon, Tahini British Chicken, Plant Power)
    • Bloomers (Free-range Egg Mayonnaise, Curried British Chicken, Hot Smoked Salmon)
    • Wraps (Hot Smoked Salmon, Chipotle British Chicken, Middle Eastern Meze)
  • Deli:
    • British Classics (Coronation Spiced Chicken, Scottish Salmon, Pheasant Terrine)
    • Combinations (Sandwiches with various fillings)
    • Sourdough Baguettes (Sandwiches with various fillings)
    • Seasonal Salads (e.g., Cooked Beetroot, Fusilli Pasta, Carrot)
    • Seasonal Soups (e.g., Carrot, Red Lentil, Cream of Chestnut Mushroom)
    • Hot Food (Cumberland Sausage Roll, Braised Steak Pie, Roasted Sweet Potato Pie)

Sweet Endings:

  • Freshly Baked Pastries & Cakes (Carrot Cake, Lemon Drizzle, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Muffins)
  • Cream Tea (Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam)

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and only includes some examples from each category.

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V. Indulge Like Royalty: Signature Dishes and Must-Try Delights

The Undercroft Café, Windsor Castle 5
The Undercroft Café

Beyond the standard cafe fare, the Undercroft Café offers special items that elevate your culinary experience within the historic castle walls. Here are some must-try delights:

A. A Taste of Windsor: Dishes Featuring Locally Sourced Ingredients

A Celebration of Freshness: The Undercroft Café prioritizes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. This commitment to local produce shines through in its daily sandwich and salad offerings. The cafe supports local farmers by incorporating seasonal vegetables and artisan slices of bread from within a 100-mile radius of Windsor Castle, imbuing its dishes with a distinct and delicious local flavour.

A Royal Connection?:  While not a confirmed historical dish served within the castle walls, the use of locally sourced ingredients resonates with the historical context. Throughout history, royal kitchens relied heavily on fresh produce grown within the castle grounds or procured from nearby farms. Enjoying a dish featuring local ingredients at the Undercroft Café allows you to connect with this historical tradition subtly yet delightfully.

B. A Royal Childhood Treat: Ice Cream Made with Jersey Milk

A Summertime Delight: During the summer months, the Undercroft Café offers a unique and delectable treat – ice cream made with milk from the Jersey herd at the Royal Farms, Windsor. The Jersey herd is a cherished part of the royal estate, with a history dating back to Queen Victoria’s reign. The rich and creamy milk these cows produce translates into exceptionally flavorful ice cream, making it a must-try for any visitor during the summer season.

A Connection to the Past:  While ice cream wouldn’t have been enjoyed in the same way during the Undercroft’s time as a wine cellar, milk from the Royal Farms connects you to a long-standing royal tradition. The Jersey herd has been a source of pride for the royal family for generations, and indulging in ice cream made with milk offers a small taste of this historical connection.

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VI. Beyond the Bite: Exploring the Ambiance and Surroundings

Windsor Castle Inner Hall 4
Windsor Castle Inner Hall

The Undercroft Café isn’t just about the food; it’s about stepping back in time and savouring a unique atmosphere steeped in history. The very essence of the cafe lies in its location – a meticulously preserved space that once housed the castle’s extensive wine collection. Let’s explore the ambience that awaits you:

A. A Timeless Embrace: Stepping into History

Descending into the Undercroft Café is like entering a portal to the past. The space retains its original character, featuring impressive vaulted ceilings that create a sense of grandeur and intimacy. The low-level lighting, reminiscent of the Undercroft’s original function as a cool and dimly lit cellar, adds to the historical ambience.

A Touch of Modernity: The architecture and overall feel evoke a bygone era, but the Undercroft Café isn’t a museum exhibit. Comfortable seating and modern furnishings ensure a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience. Like strategically placed artwork depicting the castle’s history, subtle touches further enhance the atmosphere.

B. Whispers of the Past: Historical Features that Enrich the Experience

Several historical features within the Undercroft Café contribute to the unique ambience:

  • Exposed Stonework: The cafe’s walls are adorned with exposed stonework, a testament to the Undercroft’s original construction. These rough-hewn stones tell a silent story of centuries past, adding a touch of authenticity to the space.
  • Vaulted Ceilings: As mentioned earlier, the impressive vaulted ceilings dominate the cafe’s interior. These architectural marvels create a sense of awe and enhance the acoustics, fostering a more intimate dining experience.
  • Subtle Touches: Look closely; you might find subtle historical details incorporated into the cafe’s design. These could include decorative elements that echo the castle’s architectural style or even archival photographs strategically placed to showcase the Undercroft’s past.

A Sensory Experience:  The Undercroft Café’s ambience caters to all senses. Imagine the gentle hum of conversation mingling with the clinking of teacups, all set against the backdrop of the cafe’s historical features. This sensory experience allows you to truly immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of this centuries-old space.

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VII. A Regal Rest Stop: Wrapping Up Your Undercroft Cafe Experience

The Undercroft cafe reopens after lockdown

The Undercroft Café is different from your average cafe stop. Here, amidst the imposing walls of Windsor Castle, you can embark on a delightful culinary and historical adventure. Whether indulging in a refreshing afternoon tea or savouring a sandwich made with locally sourced ingredients, the Undercroft Café offers a unique opportunity to experience a hidden gem within the castle walls.

The cafe’s charm lies in its ability to blend historical ambience with modern comfort seamlessly. As you sip your tea beneath the vaulted ceilings, you can almost imagine the echoes of royal celebrations that once resonated within this space. The Undercroft Café is more than just a place to grab a bite; it’s a portal to the past, offering visitors a chance to connect with the rich history of Windsor Castle.

A. Beyond the Cafe:  Exploring Further Within the Castle Walls

A visit to the Undercroft Café pairs perfectly with a comprehensive exploration of Windsor Castle. After indulging in a refreshing beverage and a delightful snack, consider venturing further into the castle to discover its many treasures:

  • Staterooms: Explore the magnificent State Rooms, adorned with priceless works of art and offering a glimpse into royal life.
  • St George’s Hall: Marvel at the grandeur of St George’s Hall, a venue steeped in history and used for grand ceremonies.
  • Changing of the Guard: Witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony, a colourful tradition that continues today.

B. A Memorable Experience Awaits:

With its unique blend of history and modern comfort, the Undercroft Café awaits you. So, consider a refreshing stop at this remarkable cafe on your next visit to Windsor Castle. You’ll leave satiated and deeply appreciating the castle’s enduring legacy.

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J. Shaw

Joseph Shaw is a renowned expert with two decades of experience in historic travel, and tourism in the United Kingdom. His multifaceted expertise and commitment to excellence have made him a highly respected professional in U.K. tourism.

J. Shaw has 90 posts and counting. See all posts by J. Shaw

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