Weekend Tourist: Apsley House & Wellington Arch
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve sat on a bus, usually Rt 148, going around the Roundabout at Wellington Arch thinking to myself “Gee, I really should visit Apsley House”. I grew tired of thinking that so I made the decision to take a visit to both sites over a weekend I had in London!
The two sites, Aplsey House and Wellington Arch, are both tied very closely to history – specifically the Duke of Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo. Each site reflects very heavily upon these events.
Wellington was a second son of an aristocrat and in those days the second son was often ear marked to join the military. He worked his way up the ranks and was a General by the time Napoleon began his campaign on the Continent. Wellington notably defeated Napoelon’s armies at the Battle of Waterloo and it was considered one of the greatest wins of the Napoloenic period. For his efforts he was given the title of Duke of Wellington, and he remained a General within the armies through until his 80s.
Apsley House was the home to the Duke of Wellington and now serves as a beautiful museum that encompasses the era of the Napoleonic wars and Wellington’s success.
Photos were not allowed inside the house but I captured a few of the exterior:
Though no photos were allowed there is one feature of the house that I simply had to Google an image for to share alongside the story I took away from the Museum:
Napoloen, in all of his egotistical glory, hired the Italian master Canova to sculpt a statue of himself: Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker. When the statue was delivered to Napoleon he rejected it on the premise that the statue was “too atheltic”; certainly the physique of the statue matches none of the historical reports detailing Napoleon’s image. The statue was later, after Napoleon’s defeat, sold to the British Government and was presented by the Prince Regent to the Duke of Wellington as a gift. The statue was so heavy that the floor had to be reinforced to support the weight of the statue.
Apsley House contained a tremendous amount of history pertaining to Wellington, Napoleon, and Waterloo. But the beautiful art collection within, collected by Wellington, is well worth visiting on its own.
Wellington Arch is a much smaller museum compared to Apsley House but also provides a delightful view of the neighboring area; this includes the Palace Gardens, Hyde Park, and Green Park. The inside museum focuses on the Battle of Waterloo and has some truly interesting information around the allied armies (Prussia and England) against the French army.