Apsley House Makeover

By | Category: Travel destinations

For many the rather grand building on the north side of Piccadilly as you walk towards Hyde Park looks rather like a Victorian gentleman’s club. To those who know, this is Apsley House, the home of the famous Duke of Wellington. He took a lease on it from his elder brother and, by 1820, it had been remodeled to be almost as it is seen today. It is the last remaining town house in London that hasn’t been sold off, turned into flats, demolished or totally turned into a museum. It still has rooms for the Wellington family but is often called the Wellington Museum.. But age catches up with buildings and recently it has had some refurbishment.

Given to the nation in 1947, it is those rooms open to the public that have been given “clean and brush up.” The state dining room has been the location of the annual Waterloo Banquet and that is one of the areas that has been revitalised by English Heritage, the managers of the house. It re-opened just last weekend so you can now have a chance for yourself to see how grand the room and its dinner settings are. You and I might invite a few people around to celebrate an anniversary and out might come the best china and dinner service. But at Apsley, the dinner service is of solid silver and has 1,000 pieces! The silver centrepiece was a presentation from the Portuguese and is one of the biggest attractions in the house. This has been restored as has the silver service, the walls, ceilings and the chandelier. One statue that you must see is one of a nude Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker. Sculpted at the request of Napoleon he didn’t seem to like the piece and refused to allow the public to see it according to one source. It was given to the Duke by King Louis XVIII of France in 1816. So Wellington always had his old enemy to look at before he went up stairs.

Apsley House – also known as One London – is one of the few places in Piccadilly that isn’t a shop, a hotel or yet another coffee shop. But this 240 year old building has seen its own history. The windows were broken by demonstrators at the height of the Iron Duke’s unpopularity when prime minister and iron shutters were placed over the windows yet when he died twenty odd years later he was given the last British state heraldic funeral and tens of thousands were in the streets to pay their respects.

Throughout his lifetime he was given gifts and many of these can be seen if you go around the house

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