Features of Apsley House

Standing alone at Hyde Park Corner, on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, Apsley House, which is also known as Number One, London, faces south towards the busy traffic roundabout. The Wellington Arch which is a Grade I listed building stands in the centre of this roundabout. This beautiful Georgian building has glittering interiors and it was the London home of the first Duke of Wellington. It has more or less remained the same since the Duke’s victory at Waterloo in 1815.

This magnificent home also presents one of the finest art collections in London with paintings by Velazquez, Rubens, Van Dyck and Goya along with a magnificent collection of silver, porcelain, sculpture, furniture and memorabilia. Inside the house you can see glimpses of the first Duke’s life, particularly his outstanding and amazing art treasures that have been displayed amid stunning interiors. In 2015, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo was celebrated and as part of the anniversary project, The Waterloo Gallery that was used by the Duke to hold the annual Waterloo Banquets, was represented, including the banqueting table and beautiful Portuguese gilt dinner service.

Apsley House is also sometimes referred to as the Wellington Museum and it is now run by English heritage and has been thrown open to the public as a museum and art gallery. Among its exhibits, you can also see 83 paintings from the Spanish royal collection. Part of the buildings is still being used by the 9th Duke of Wellington and Apsley House presents the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period. It has always been their endeavour to maintain the rooms in the original form, style and decor as far as possible since it is home to the first Duke’s collection and the silver centrepiece that was created for the Duke of Portugal, c 1815. The heroic marble nude of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, holding a gilded Nike in the palm of his right hand and having a height of 3.45 metre, was made in 1802-10 by Antonio Canova and it was first set up in the Louvre but it was bought by the Government for Wellington in 1816. It now stands in Adam’s Stairwell.

If you are planning to visit London for sightseeing or for business, it would be a great idea to stay at Marble Arch London Hotel as it is located in the heart of the city in close proximity to most of the various attractions as well as to the business offices of central London. Moreover, the hotel offers luxurious accommodation with the best of facilities.

Apsley House is located where an old lodge belonging to the crown, once stood. Immediately preceding the building of the Apsley House, the site was occupied by a tavern called the Hercules Pillars. Originally, it was built in red brick between 1771 and 1778, by Robert Adam for Lord Apsley, the Lord Chancellor and as such, the house was named after him. Parts of the interiors associated with Adam are still there including the semi-circular Staircase, the Drawing Room with its apsidal end, and the Portico Room, behind the giant Corinthian portico that was added by Wellington.

For people planning to visit London, especially shopaholics, it would be best to stay at Hotels near Oxford Street London as they would be located in the midst of various shopping options and close to other attraction.

The reason why the house was nicknamed Number One, London was that it was the first house that visitors would pass by while travelling from the countryside after the toll gates at Knightsbridge. Originally, it was part of a contiguous line of great houses on Piccadilly that had been demolished to widen Park Lane and its official address still remains 149 Piccadilly. The house was purchased in 1807 by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, elder brother of Sir Arthur Wellesley, but he was forced to sell it due to financial difficulties to his famous brother, who had by then become the Duke of Wellington and who needed a base in London for pursuing his new career in politics.

For renovating the house the services of the architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt were used by Wellington. The renovations were carried out in two phases with the first one adding a three-storey extension to the north-east in which a State Dining Room, bedrooms and dressing rooms were housed and in the second phase a new staircase and the Waterloo Gallery were added on the west side of the house. This phase was carried out after Wellington became Prime Minister in 1828. As part of the renovation, the red-brick exterior was clad in Bath stone and a pedimented portico was added. The interior was modified by Wyatt in his own version of French style, mainly in the Waterloo Gallery and the wrought iron stair-rail.

The Duke’s famous victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo was celebrated by naming the gallery as Waterloo Gallery and in order to celebrate the date of 18 June 1815, a special bouquet is still placed annually. The statue of the Duke on a horseback, cloaked and watchful, can still be seen across the busy road and its plinth is guarded at each corner by an infantryman. The casting of the statue was done from guns captured at the battle. In 1947, the house and its important contents were handed over to the nation by Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington. However, the family still retained its right to occupy just over half the house “so long as there is a Duke of Wellington”, by the Wellington Museum Act 1947. The family apartments are now concentrated on the second floor, on the north side of the house.

Visitors to the house can see part of a 400-piece gilded porcelain dinner service commissioned in 1817 by King Frederick William III of Prussia for being given as a gift to the Duke of Wellington to honour his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

 

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