On a Friday afternoon, I boarded a bus with 50 other LSE General Course students for Cumberland Lodge. Located in Windsor Park about 3 miles from Windsor Castle, Cumberland Lodge is the largest house in Windsor Great Park. It was built in 1652 on land that Oliver Cromwell had taken from the government.
Going to Cumberland Lodge was like stepping back in time. Surrounded by nature in Windsor Great Park and staying in a de facto castle made for a perfect weekend.
A little history
Cumberland Lodge was once the home of the Ranger of the great park; Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor there; Princess Helena lived there for over 50 years; several royals from around the world have been invited to stay there; kings used it for illicit extramarital activities; and scenes from The King’s Speech were filmed there. So basically this house has a lot of history.
In 1947 King George VI made the house available to an academic foundation after seeing the influence Hitler had on educated youth. Its purpose is to encourage open and honest exchanges of views, the challenging of ideas, and the asking of questions.
While this sounds intense (and it was definitely more academic than I was expecting), it was a great way to ease myself back into an academic mindset for classes! I learned a lot, made a lot of new friends, and had an amazing time exploring Great Windsor Park and Cumberland Lodge itself.
The [boring] academic stuff
The weekend was divided between lectures and discussions, explorations, meals, and tea breaks. Our first lecture was about the Eurozone Crisis by an Economics professor at LSE. Not being an econ person, I was a little worried about how technical this lesson would be, but overall it was incredibly interesting and practical. The talks of the weekend were all like this—interesting and practical.
After dinner that night we heard from the Royal Biographer, Hugo Vickers. He told us a sort-of history of the Queen and the royal family as well as how the royal family works, etc. In addition, we learned a brief history of the Lodge, which really intensified (in a good way) my whole experience during the trip. After I got back to London, I learned that Hugo was the Historical Adviser to The King’s Speech! [I’m only slightly obsessed]
The following morning, we heard about Digital Privacy and debated whether or not there is a right to be forgotten with content on the internet. SO interesting! After our tea break, we learned about Global Hegemony. Our speaker took hegemony in a positive context instead of a negative one and although I didn’t necessarily agree with everything he said, I was glad I got a chance to listen to something new!
Exploring Windsor Great Park (and stalking hundreds of deer!)
After lunch came the highlight of our trip: free time to explore!!! My friend Sam and I decided that we wouldn’t have enough time to appreciate Windsor Castle or the town of Windsor itself so we chose to walk around the park itself instead. Although it was rainy for half of our accidental six-mile stroll, it was amazing.
It was so nice to have a quick weekend retreat to the English countryside. Walking around in all the fresh air and seeing green and trees for miles around was an experience I just can’t put into words.
We ended up walking to the gatehouse of Windsor Castle and saw dozens of pheasants, dozens of cattle, and HUNDREDS of deer on our way. Easily one of the highlights of the trip.
By the way, did you know that deer moo?!?! And you should be thankful I didn’t post all 250 deer pictures on here ;)