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Apsley House, London

Arthur Wellesley, was a career soldier, and one of Britain's greatest generals. He rose from being a shy boy from a poor Anglo Irish noble family, to become the Duke of Wellington. In 1815 he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Then in 1818 came the offer of a role in government, which he accepted. What happened then just goes to show that personal qualities are relative to the situations in which people find themselves. Wellington has been judged by many historians as a disastrous politician, and between 1828 and 1830 a terrible prime minister. The problem was that the Duke simply did not believe in party politics. "Factious opposition" to the government was, he felt, not in Britain's best interests. Wellington tended towards the military dictatorship end of the political spectrum. Politics was very different to his earlier life where "I assembled my officers and laid down my plan, and it was carried into effect without more words" (quoted Wellington, The Iron Duke by Richard Holmes P 272).

Apsley House, a grand, solid, and uncompromising building, was built in the 1770s for Baron Apsley. Arthur's brother Richard Wellesley owned the property first, from 1807, before Arthur himself took possession in 1817. He encased the original brick building in stone, and then used Apsley House as a London base for his political career. Just over the road stands Wellington's statue, cast from guns captured at Waterloo.

 

 

 

Statue of Wellington outside Apsley House

 

Apsley House is now a museum dedicated to the Duke of Wellington. It is owned by English Heritage, but the present Duke of Wellington continues to use apartments there. Arthur Wellesley's collection of paintings, porcelain, sculpture and furniture can be viewed. Teaching services are available.

 

 

Opening Times: Opening hours for English Heritage properties are complex. Please use contact details below.

Directions: Apsley House is at Hyde Park Corner, London. Hyde Park Corner is the nearest Underground station. Click here for an interactive map centred on Apsley House.

Access: There is wheelchair access to some, but not all, of the public areas. Wheelchairs are provided for visitor use. Audio guides and sign language interpretation are available.

Contact:

telephone: 020 7499 5676

web site: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.12679

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©2007InfoBritain (updated 11/12)