There are few more magnificent sights than a horse and carriage on the Long Walk with Windsor Castle in the background. I’ve been fortunate to work with Windsor Carriages both during weddings, where couples can take a romantic ride into the Great Park, and also as a brand photographer taking photos for their website and marketing.
I’m fascinated by the history of the business… they’ve provided carriages for weddings and events at Windsor Castle since 1963 - more than 600 to date! I asked Rebecca Seear who now runs the family business, to share some of her stories.
Can you share any favourite stories about the Great Park?
“Windsor Great Park is full of history, with a story behind everything from the statues to the trees. There are many stories handed down from coachman to coachman over the past 100 years - these aren’t in the history books and are often more popular with our guests.
A favourite story my father would tell me is about the ponds that Prince Albert had dug out in the village. These were originally a functional design to bring water to the estate workshops - one of many examples of Prince Alberts incredible engineering expertise seen across the estate.
However, one pond in particular had an additional purpose which my father would point to as the carriage travelled past. ‘Look at its shape… does it remind you of anything?’ Prince Albert had the pond shaped to represent the Isle of Wight, one of his and Queen Victoria’s favourite places. An island-shaped pond is a pretty romantic gift to your partner, one hard to top. I like to use it as a backdrop for proposals on our Crown Experience. A truly special place.”
Tell us something interesting about the history of Windsor Carriages.
“The horses are always the star of the day and usually come to us in their retirement as it is easy work for laid-back horses. Each horse has a story.
Franco, one of my father’s favourite carriage horses, started out in Argentina and was flown here to play high goal polo for the owner of the Coworth estate. He was sadly injured and so dad retrained him to be a carriage horse. It was always very exciting when we went past the polo pitches as his ears would perk up and you could see he was remembering his past successes. He even made it to the Royal Windsor Horse Show in the team! (See picture)
Then there are Minos and Hector who pulled carriages on the Long Walk for over 27 years right into their mid thirties. They had the privilege of pulling royal carriages for Her Majesty due to being smaller than the royal mews horses so more suited to the smaller Victorian carriages.
As you can imagine we can talk all day about our horses past and present! Joey is our newest addition and in his spare time is a show horse competing and winning at Trace Classes throughout the country. Prince and Captain (who our brides from the past 3 years will recognise) had an illustrious film career before joining the team, starring in The Crown and UK TV classic Midsummer Murders to name a few!”
Do you have any specific wedding memories?
“I have always loved weddings and as a child I would even save the confetti in jars that I found when cleaning the carriages afterwards. It is always such a happy occasion and wonderful to see the joy on faces when the carriage arrives.
A specific memory I have is the first wedding I did after my father (who had driven on The Long Walk for over 50 years) passed away. It was on The Long Walk for a local bride, Elke, who had selected to have the carriage decorated with flowers - a service we love to offer. A friend had married a few days earlier at Wentworth, with the entire ballroom filled with flowers. My florist suggested we add all the flowers from the ballroom to those that Elke had chosen. It was beautiful! Flowers from the horses’ ears to their tails, a moving floral display with the wonderful scent of fresh flowers as we travelled down The Long Walk. Elke was very moved - as we all were - and it was such a magical day. My dad would have been very proud of the whole team!
Proposals are becoming the more interesting event nowadays. We often wonder ‘will she, won’t she’, but they always say yes! We have mastered the art of pretending it is a regular experience and work with the guest to pick the perfect location. While it happens we quickly prepare the prosecco and really feel part of the moment. I have shed a happy tear many times!”
What's your favourite view in the Great Park?
“It has to be the Long Walk, there is no where like it.
The Long Walk has been closed to cars for over a hundred years but carriages are still permitted under our licence, which we have held all that time thanks to the dedicated coachman before us.
The Castle is a magical backdrop for wedding photos and we always find a quiet place in the trees for beautiful shots of the couple. It’s a welcome break from the high energy of the day.
It’s genuinely exciting when we return to the town, often with cheers from guests as their carriage arrives. A passion and privilege for the whole team, and the horses love the attention they receive.
Continuing a tradition we have had in Windsor town for over 150 years is the cherry on the cake! We are grateful to be able to move with the times and add more special events like proposals and 90-minute wedding photoshoots to ensure the future of Windsor Carriages in this historic town.”
Windsor Carriages have a wealth of experience and excellent testimonials from hundreds of happy couples. They can also help in completing the relevant application for photography permissions on the Long Walk. Visit their website to find out more.