My last day in London (30 May 07) began with a visit to Apsley House. Designed and constructed between 1771 and 1778 and named after Baron Apsley, this aristocratic townhouse at the western end of Piccadilly, between Hyde Park and Green Park, became the London home of war hero and future prime minister, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, in 1817.
Having beaten Napoleon at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington was once the most famous man in Europe. If it were not for the Duke, French would be the national language of the country.
Also known as ‘No. 1 London’, because it was the first house within the city gates on the west side, it houses the Duke’s outstanding collection of paintings, porcelain, silver, sculpture, furniture, medals and memorabilia. Pictured above, the lavish Waterloo Gallery (90 ft long), contains the Duke’s magnificent art collection. Between 1992 and 1995 the interior of the house was restored to its early 19th-century appearance
An 11-foot-tall marble statue of Napoleon (above), clad only in a fig leaf, dominates the stunning grand stairwell in the center of the house. Downstairs is a small gallery of Wellington memorabilia. A comfortable seating area in the Inner Hall allows visitors to browse through leather-bound albums of images of Wellington, his descendants and Apsley House.
When the seventh Duke of Wellington gave the house to the nation in 1947, the family retained the private rooms, which they still use today. Pictured below is the Piccadilly Drawing Room.
Views from the upstairs apartments offer grand views of Hyde Park (pictured below) to the west and the Wellington Arch across the street to the south. The English Heritage also manages the Wellington Arch and admission can be combined to visit the viewing platform at the top.
Tube Station: Hyde Park Corner. Opening times 10am-5pm Tues-Sun, closing at 4pm from Nov-Mar. Adult Admission: GBP5.30. Joint ticket to see the Wellington Arch: GBP6.90. Family Fare: GBP17.30 (2 adults, 3 children)