Apsley House (Wellington Museum) offers a glimpse into early 19th century London in more ways than one. A rare preserved example of an English aristocrats town house of that period, it was the home of one of Britain’s most extraordinary men: an outstanding soldier and statesman, the 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-18520).
Designed and built by Robert Adam in the 1770s for the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Apsley, the property was then bought by the 1st Marques of Wellesley. In 1817 he sold it to the younger brother. Wellington who became Prime Minister in 1828 and is best known for his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.
Originally red brick the Wellesley family twice extended the house and encased it in golden Bath stone. Like the imposing Corinthian portico, many rooms were redesigned to reflect Wellingtons rising status. The regency interiors provided the backdrop for entertaining, especially the annual Waterloo banquets.
Paintings by Goya, Velazquez and Rubens, among others, are hung throughout the first floor. A huge nude statue of Napoleon by Canova dominates the stairwell at the center of the house. The magnificent Wellington Shield, demonstrates Britain’s craftsmanship. Balconies near the top give glorious views over London’s royal parks and the Houses of Parliament.
If you have an afternoon to spare and find yourself in the great city of London, England, make sure to visit the history and story laden tourist attraction known as the Apsley House. It is sure to leave a lasting impression even on the most traveled of people.