Saturday, December 21, 2013

Apsley House

Commander K. + Wellington
Hyde Park Station, London
Apsley House (, built between 1771 and 1778, was the home of the First Duke of Wellington (1769 - 1852) and remains a residence of the Duke of Wellington to this day.  This gem of a house has a fitting address -- "Number One London".  Wellington, rewarded by many of Europe's crowned heads, amassed an outstanding collection of fine paintings.

Duke of Wellington on his horse Copenhagen
The Duke of Wellington ( is remembered today as the man who triumphed over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815.  The Duke purchased this home just two years after the battle in 1817.

State Dining Room, Apsley House
The Duke hosted annual Waterloo dinners each year for the officers who had served with him on that fateful day.  A marvellous silver gilt service that was a gift to Wellington from the Portuguese dominates the room.  Before Waterloo Wellington fought and defeated Napoleon's Marshals in the Peninsular campaign from 1809 to 1814.  In Portugal Wellington had the Lines of Torres Vedras constructed to defend Lisbon from the French.

Commander K. with Napoleon
Hyde Park Tube Station, London
After his defeat at Waterloo Emperor Napoleon was sent to exile on the barren isle of St. Helena.  He died, likely of stomach cancer in 1821.

Commander K. at Apsley House
Napoleon and Wellington had much in common.  Both men were born in 1769 on islands (Corsica and Ireland) under the thumb of their more powerful imperial neighbors (France and England).  Both pursued highly successful military careers which culminated in political power.  Both very were voraciously heterosexual and neither man enjoyed a happy marriage.  They even shared two mistresses -- the Italian singer Grassini and Mademoiselle George.  The later judged that, "Monsieur le duc etait de beaucoup le plus fort" (The duke was much the stronger).

Duke of Wellington fights a duel
Battersea Park, London
Wellington, on the other hand, returned to England where he later became Prime Minister.  In 1829 he fought a duel at Battersea park against the Earl of Winchelsea who opposed Wellington's support of Catholic emancipation.  No one was injured.

Commander K. and the Duke, St. Paul's, London 
Wellington''s older brother helped him advance early in his career.  Andrew Roberts writes that, "A combination, therefore, of nepotism, racism and snobbishness - all anathema to twenty-first century liberal society  -- saved Europe from despotism."  (Source: Napoleon and Wellington, Andrew Roberts,

William Funk USMC at The Grenadier, London
After a visit to Apsley House, be sure to drop by The Grenadier pub which is nearby on 18 Wilton Row in Belgravia.  Wellington's officers used it as a mess in his time.  Try the Beef Wellington which is excellent!  They even have ghost!  Here is the link...

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