2015 was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and what better way to celebrate the outstanding victory than a visit to Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner. Once known as Number 1, London (now there is an address to aspire to), Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, used the address as his town house. The house is now run by English Heritage and is open to the public as a museum and art gallery, exhibiting 83 paintings from the Spanish royal collection. The 9th Duke of Wellington retains the use of part of the buildings. It is perhaps the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period. The practice has been to maintain the rooms as far as possible in the original style and decor. It contains the 1st Duke's collection of paintings, porcelain, the silver centrepiece made for the Duke in Portugal, c. 1815, sculpture and furniture. Antonio Canova's heroic marble nude of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker made 1802–10, holding a gilded Nike in the palm of his right hand, and standing 3.45 metres (11.3 ft) to the raised left hand holding a staff. It was set up for a time in the Louvre and was bought by the Government for Wellington in 1816 (according to Nikolaus Pevsner) and stands in Adam's Stairwell.
Apsley House stands at the site of an old lodge that belonged to the crown. During the Interregnum newer buildings were erected between what is now Old Regent Street and Hyde Park Corner. In the 1600s after the Restoration they were leased by James Hamilton (died 1673) and renewed by Elizabeth his widow in 1692 on a 99-year lease (Hamilton Place takes its name from that family). Immediately before Apsley House was built the site was occupied by a tavern called the Hercules Pillars (immortalised by Henry Fielding in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling as the location where Squire Western resides when he first journeys up to London). The house was originally built in red brick by Robert Adam between 1771 and 1778 for Lord Apsley, the Lord Chancellor, who gave the house its name. Some Adam interiors survive: the semi-circular Staircase, the Drawing Room with its apsidal end, and the Portico Room, behind the giant Corinthian portico added by Wellington. The house was given the popular nickname of Number One, London, since it was the first house passed by visitors who travelled from the countryside after the toll gates at Knightsbridge. It was originally part of a contiguous line of great houses on Piccadilly, demolished to widen Park Lane: its official address remains 149 Piccadilly, W1J 7NT. In 1807 the house was purchased by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the elder brother of Sir Arthur Wellesley, but in 1817 financial difficulties forced him to sell it to his famous brother, by then the Duke of Wellington, who needed a London base from which to pursue his new career in politics.
Location : Hyde Park Corner/Picadilly W1J 7NT
Transport: Hyde Park Corner Underground (Picadilly Line). London Buses routes 2, 9, 10, 14, 16, 19, 22, 36, 38, 52, 73, 74, 137, 148, 414, 436 and C2 and Green Line Coaches routes 701 and 702 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Monday to Friday Closed
Saturday/Sunday - 10:00 to 16:00
Tickets : £8.30, Concession £7.50, Children (5 - 15) £5.00, English Heritage Members Free
Tel: 0370 333 1181 Textphone: 0800 015 0516