Stratfield Saye House is a large stately home at Stratfield Saye in the north-east of the English county of Hampshire. It has been the home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817. The Manor of Stratfield Saye was created by the joining of two older manors. In the 12th century Stratfield was owned by the Stoteville family, and then early in the 13th century this passed by marriage to the Saye family. Before 1370 the manor passed on again by marriage to the Dabridgecourts, and in 1629 they sold the property to the Pitt family, cousins of the great father-and-son Prime Ministers. The main part of the house was extensively enlarged around 1630 by Sir William Pitt, Comptroller of the Household to King James I. Sir William's eldest son, Edward Pitt (1592-1643), MP, of Steepleton Iwerne, Dorset and later of Stratfield Saye, bought the estate for £4,800 in 1629. Further extensive alterations were carried out to the house and park in the 18th century by George Pitt, 1st Baron Rivers.
Arthur Wellesley was born in Dublin on 1st May 1769. He entered the army in 1787. By 1796 he was a Colonel of the 33rd Foot Regiment (now the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) and spent the next nine years in India campaigning against a coalition of Princes who were friendly to Napoleon. In 1806 he married Catherine (Kitty) Pakenham, daughter of Lord Longford, and was appointed Chief Secretary of Ireland. In 1808 he was promoted to Lieutenant-General and went in command of 14,000 troops to the Spanish Peninsula, fighting the French at the Battle of Vimeiro, north of Lisbon. He returned home briefly, but was back in Portugal in 1809, campaigning against the French there and in Spain until 1813, earning the title Earl of Wellington in 1811. He was created Duke of Wellington in 1814 after Napoleon’s abdication.
Napoleon escaped from exile in Elba in February 1815 and the Duke of Wellington was asked to save the situation. He watched Napoleon’s army march towards his headquarters in Brussels. The forces met at several battles leading up to the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815, which defeated Napoleon. In the 1820s the Duke of Wellington entered serious politics, with mixed results. He became Prime Minister in 1827, but resigned three years later over the subject of Parliamentary Reform. He continued to serve his country until the end of his life, dying at Walmer Castle, his residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, on 14th September, 1852.
The estate was sold to the nation in 1817, in order that it could be given by a grateful nation to the victorious Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. They gave 600,000 pounds for the construction of a splendid Waterloo Palace to rival the magnificence of Blenheim Palace, home of the Dukes of Marlborough. The Hampshire site Wellington chose in 1817 was the 5,000-acre (20 km2) estate of Stratfield Saye, home of the Pitt family. He was advised on the purchase by the architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt who had once been his private secretary. He originally planned to demolish the existing house, and replace it with a more prestigious home, to be known as Waterloo Palace. The Duke abandoned these plans in 1821 when they proved to be too expensive, and subsequently made numerous additions and improvements to the existing building. All but the 1st and 6th Dukes are buried at Stratfield Saye House.
The stables are grade II listed buildings. In 1977 the Wellington Exhibition was opened in part of the Stables to depict, in graphic terms, the life and times of Arthur, the first Duke of Wellington. It houses a collection of momentoes of his long life as a soldier and statesman in the service of his country, including maps, weapons and caricatures. The magnificent, richly ornamental funeral carriage was made of bronze cast from melted down French cannons captured at Waterloo. It was designed and constructed by a number of designers and craftsmen over a period of two months and was built in four sections in only 18 days. In 1861 it was lodged in the Crypt of St Paul’s where it remained until 1981 when it was moved to Stratfield Saye on permanent loan. The Duke of Wellington Commemorative Column stands at the entrance to Stratfield Saye on the eastern Heckfield side. The column, which can be viewed from the A33, is topped by a bronze statue by Baron Carlo Marochetti. The column was erected in 1863.
There is a small gift shop and tea-room, serving light sandwich lunches and cakes, in the reception building. Access to Stratfield Saye House is by guided tour only. Numbers in groups are restricted because some of the rooms are small. Visitors may explore the gardens, grounds and exhibition (including the 1st Duke’s funeral carriage) at their leisure. The main rooms and Wellington exhibition are wheelchair accessible. Assistance dogs are welcome. Their opening times for 2017 are: Easter 2017: Thursday, 13th – Monday, 17th April inclusive; Summer 2017: Friday, 4th – Tuesday, 29th August inclusive. Monday to Friday – gates open at 11.30am with tours from 12noon. Weekends and Bank Holidays – gates open at 10.30am with tours from 11am.
Location : Stratfield Saye, Hampshire RG7 2BT
Transport : Southbourne (National Rail) then bus (121). Bus Routes : 121 and 147 stop 15 minutes away.
Opening Times : See Above
Tickets Weekdays: Adults £11:00; Seniors £10.00; Children £4.00.
Tickets Weekends : Adults £13.00; Seniors £12.00; Children £5.00.
Tel. : 01256 882694