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Disappointment of the week with Bucking Fastard on the Pub Forum

Windsor Castle, Westminster, SW1

23 Francis Street

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

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Quinno _ left this review about Windsor Castle

I had completely forgotten coming here previously; this one is a little off the beaten track in the backstreets near Victoria tube, past Westminster Cathedral. The lovely (if recently injected) Sam's interior remains as was with a riot of wood panelling, glazed screens, lamps, etched glass and lincrusta ceiling. Cask OBB available, though I had a raspberry beer on this occasion, served up by a friendly barmaid. I’ve warmed to Sam’s pubs over the last few years and I quite enjoyed this one.

April 2013
A Sam Smiths outlet (previously called the Cardinal) which underwent a large and sympathetic refurbishment in mid-2011 which involved the resurrection of etched glass screens partitioning the drinking areas and the installation of a decent lounge area at the pub’s rear (replete with natty coloured skylight) in place of the dingy restaurant. The interior is now split into around four drinking areas by said partitions, with some banquette seating round the sides. The moulded burgundy ceiling remains and there’s a room (unexplored) upstairs. The downstairs room is certainly quite impressive to look at but the pub itself doesn’t feel very cosy. At the bar, there’s the real ale of OBB (which was in good nick but tasted like dishwater, when will I learn to leave it alone?) along with the usual keg staples but the fridge seemed to be missing some of the bottles like oatmeal stout. I’m pleased I’ve done this one but not being much of a Sam Smiths fan I don’t feel any real compulsion to return here specifically. Rated 6

On 20th December 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 5185 recommendations about 5168 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about Windsor Castle

Quite a large horseshoe-shaped bar, refurbished (and renamed from the Cardinal) in 2011 by Samual Smiths. Reasonable amount of seating on three sides, with glazed screens at points around the perimeter. Decent-sized lounge (previously a dining area) behind a low partition (again with glazed screens added) towards the rear. Some fairly ornate decoration, with dark wooden panelling, an interesting high ceiling and a curious skylight at the back. Also has another room upstairs (never visited). Usual Sam Smiths offerings, with Extra Stout available if you don't fancy OBB on handpump (£3.20). Still a reasonable spot for a pint, though, with the advantage that it can accommodate a couple of large groups without putting everybody else out.

On 16th December 2017 - rating: 7
[User has posted 8159 recommendations about 8159 pubs]

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Tris C left this review about Windsor Castle

Built as the Windsor Castle by at least 1823, renamed the Cardinal in 1963 after Westminster Cathedral's founder, Cardinal Manning, before reverting to the Windsor Castle in 2011.
This is a grand, multi-roomed, late Victorian rebuild dating from 1896 and recently refurbished by Sam Smith's with many a cut and etched glass screen, Lincrusta-style ceiling coverings, flooring being a mix of lino, herringbone parquet and encaustic Minton-style tiles to the downstairs lavs. In all, a very different pub from the previous '63-'011 incarnation as the Cardinal.
All very Sam Smith's by the numbers and nothing particularly wrong with that other than the usual culprit being Old Brewery Bitter, thankfully served on cask and at just £3.20 a pint.
Friendly bar staff and a mix of clients from office workers to students, to earthy locals.
Worth a visit to admire the restored ersatz interior, but thereafter nothing to set the pulse racing.

On 23rd May 2017 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2009 recommendations about 1975 pubs]

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custodian 42 left this review about Windsor Castle

Very neat and tidy pub with good lighting. Various rooms and a first floor lounge and lots of wood panelling. Would be a great pub if not a Sams.

On 8th March 2017 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1693 recommendations about 1691 pubs]

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E TA left this review about Windsor Castle

I can't add much to the excellent descriptions below, but I can confirm that this pub continues to offer great value for money and a thoroughly enjoyable pint of Sam Smith's. The atmosphere was welcoming, the company was convivial and the staff were professional and friendly. Well worth the walk from Victoria, and should be included in a Pimlico or Petty France crawl.

On 24th June 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3301 recommendations about 3266 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about Windsor Castle

Situated in the back streets of Westminster, and in the shadow of Westminster Cathedral, is The Windsor Castle, a Sam Smith’s pub that reopened in June 2011 following a predictably sympathetic refurbishment.

Previously called The Cardinal – named after one Cardinal Manning, a former Archbishop of Westminster, who devoted his life to helping London’s working classes – a vigorous campaign against changing the pub’s name finally proved unsuccessful.

Etched glass screens divide the interior up into a number of adjoining compartmentalised drinking areas, including, rather curiously, one small snug barely large enough to accommodate half a dozen drinkers. Seating is mainly standard wooden tables, chairs and stools with a more comfortable banquette lining the side wall in the main bar area. At the rear, what was once a rather dark and gloomy restaurant area, is now a large well appointed lounge with a mixture of sofas and armchairs resembling to some extent a hotel lobby. There’s the obligatory framed prints and photographs of Windsor Castle on the walls. There’s also an upstairs lounge, which was booked out for a pre-Xmas private party on my visit.

The splendid burgundy coloured moulded ceiling has been retained, but, disappointingly, the large drape curtains which instilled a degree of cosiness and warmth have gone. The large plain windows down the right hand side of the pub now give a rather cold and stark view of the brick wall across the road.

The Sam Smiths OBB is now £ 2.72p per pint – almost a 30% increase from the reported price of £ 2.11p in July 2011. Someone has to pay for the refurbishment, I suppose, but, in fairness, it’s still excellent value for Central London.

A rather liberal interpretation of the policy of serving the beer with a Northern head resulted in me being served well over an inch short – which was only topped up rather grudgingly.

If you like the traditional style and atmosphere of Sam’s pubs, you’ll probably want to look this one out.

On 3rd January 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about Windsor Castle

This pub has now reverted to its original name following a recent refurbishment, after spending many years as The Cardinal. The change was not welcomed in some quarters, as the Cardinal was named after Cardinal Manning, who of course had local connections whereas the Windsor Castle does not. Anyway, as is their way, Sam Smiths have effected a most sympathetic refurbishment, restoring some of the original panelling and, as far as I can recall from its “Cardinal” days, retaining such original Victorian features that it had such as the etched/cut glass and Lincrusta style ceiling. It doesn’t have the same extravagant decor of The Princess Louise, but it’s still something special. The main front areas of the pub have standard furnishings of banquettes and normal tables and chairs, but there is a large lounge at the back of the pub containing sofas and armchairs, tasteful prints on the walls, and is reminiscent of a gentlemen’s club. I didn’t see any tall tables/stools (except stools at the bar of course), fruit machines and their ilk, nor was any music playing during my midweek lunchtime visit.
Being a Sam Smith’s pub the only ale on handpump is Old Brewery Bitter – at the remarkably good value for London of £2.11 a pint. Food was reasonably priced as well, with (e.g.) a cheese and pickle sandwich plus nachos and a bit of salad for £3.75. Main courses were around £5 - £6, including such pub regulars as steak & kidney pie for £5.60 and chilli con carne for £6.50.
I rather like this pub. The only downside (for me anyway) is the lack of a decent ale as I am not a fan of Sam Smith’s beers. But it’s definitely worth the walk from Victoria Station to visit this classic pub.

On 27th July 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2606 recommendations about 2520 pubs]

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Danny O'Revey left this review about The Cardinal

review below sums it up really, high ceiling but still slightly dark, walls are half wood pannalled, half typical pub wallpaper, there is also a typical pub carpet.. There is a central bar and a darts board to one side of the room. A large fire place has a mirror above. One area is partitioned off and is more foody.

It seemed popular on a Monday afternoon depite its back street location. There was a strong smell of garlic in the air!

A nice place for a beer, it was friendly and efficient.

Sam Smiths OBB was ok if nothing brilliant

On 18th May 2010 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1456 recommendations about 1434 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Cardinal

Being tucked away behind Westminster Cathedral, this spacious Sam Smiths pub is easy to miss. The first thing that strikes you is that the place has a very sombre and drab feel to it with dated wallpaper and a heavy dark patterned ceilings. The bar takes up a huge chunk of floorsapce and retains its canopy upon which are a few barrels and nick nacks. At one end is a darts area and a Big Screen hovers over to the other side. To the rear behind a divide is a further seating area which, even under the skylight, is equally dark and dingy where even the sunniest of days fails to pentrate through the gloominess. A kitchen area can be seen behind a half divide at the very back. Pictures of various Bishops and other ecclesiastic celebrities from the dim and distant pass adorn the walls and there is a small book collection on a shelf at the rear. Upstairs is a small lounge bar which is open open at selected times. The beers are of course from the Sam Smiths range and the Old Brewery Bitter is on hand pump (currently £1.99 a pint). If you don’t mind the pub’s perpetual grimness and the Sam Smith beers, it is generally a quiet and peaceful place that is overlooked by the hordes that throng the nearby shops, theatres and station.

On 30th April 2010 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1239 recommendations about 1233 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Cardinal

This is one of the less structurally remarkable Sam Smiths pubs that I have been into, but the barmaid that served me was friendly enough and they still retain OBB on hand pump.

There is a dartboard at the front of the pub and the rear has a dining area feel as it is overlooked by a big food bar.

Worth a look if in the area.

On 15th July 2009 - rating: 7
[User has posted 5303 recommendations about 5271 pubs]

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