- Cultural & historical sites
What you'll do
Explore the dazzling interiors, treasures, and fabulous art collections of Apsley House. Experience the Waterloo Gallery and enjoy new multimedia guides and displays.
Enjoy access to Apsley House with The London Pass®
- Pay nothing at the door - simply show your pass.
- See the stunning art collection belonging to the first Duke of Wellington, with many pieces gifted to him by famous European rulers.
- Learn more about the man who beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, ending the Napoleonic Wars. The museum collects together objects belonging to the duke, including clothing, medals, and weapons, telling the story of the Duke of Wellington, one of the most celebrated military leaders and statesmen of the 19th Century.
- Take in the striking interiors of the aristocratic mansion, including the State Dining Room and the grand Waterloo Gallery.
- Check out a colossal nude statue of Napoleon by Canova which dominates the Stairwell at the centre of the house, had to be reinforced to bear its formidable weight.
Apsley House was the London home of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, famed for defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The home today serves as a museum dedicated to the man and his accomplishments, with the wonderfully maintained and strikingly decorated mansion showcasing his extensive collection of fine art, a wealth of memorabilia from his military campaigns and a huge amount of information of the duke’s military and political careers.
Apsley House history
Apsley House was built by famed and fashionable architect Robert Adam between 1771 and 1778. It was created for Lord Chancellor Henry, 1st Baron Apsley (later 2nd Earl Bathurst) at the entrance to Hyde Park. It was known as Number 1, London because it was the first house encountered by visitors coming from the west and through the toll gates at Knightsbridge.
Following his momentous victory at the Battle of Waterloo, defeating Napoleon and ending the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington purchased the house. He needed a London base as he began his career in Westminster politics, a career which would see him twice become Prime Minister, first between 1828 and 1830, then again for just shy of a month in 1834.
Having been ennobled as Duke of Wellington, following his many victories in the Peninsular and Napoleonic wars, Wellesley was given £700,000 by Parliament, with a view to him building a new ‘Waterloo Palace’. The Duke of Wellington’s older brother owned Apsley House at the time but was in danger of losing it because of a bout of financial difficulties. Instead of building a new palace for himself, the younger Wellesley put in an anonymous bid to purchase Apsley House. The deal went through, he eased his brother’s mounting financial difficulties, and had a ready-made mansion fit for his new aristocratic and political life.
Apsley House grew under Wellington, who commissioned his former secretary Benjamin Dean Wyatt to expand the property. A three-storey extension was added to the northeast, featuring the stunning State Dining Room, new bedrooms and dressing rooms. In 1828, a brand new staircase and the opulent, striking Waterloo Gallery were added to Apsley House. After the home’s windows were smashed during riots, the duke put in iron shutters and railings to protect Apsley. Rather than his military prowess, personality and politics, it is believed that it is from this incident that Wellesley first gained the nickname, The Iron Duke.
The duke used the 28 metre Waterloo Gallery to showcase his growing collection of art. Many of the pieces were gifted to the Duke of Wellington by European rulers, their grand gestures of thanks for defeating Napoleon. His collection is still on display today, and is a highlight of Apsley House, along with the striking interiors of this well-maintained aristocratic mansion and a wealth of trophies, memorabilia, medals and weapons belonging to the celebrated duke.
Today, part of Apsley House provides a home for the current Duke of Wellington. It is London’s only aristocratic townhouse still in use today. The rest of Apsley opened as a museum in 1952. It is laid out to reflect how it looked during the time of the first Duke of Wellington’s residence.
Apsley House highlights
- Learn about the life of the national icon who called Apsley House home. Discover more about his victories, private life, tastes and legacy as you take a self-guided, multimedia-enriched tour of his London home.
- Take in the grand home’s fabulous art collection, including works by Rubens, Goya, Titian and Velazquez, many gifted to the Duke of Wellington by King Ferdinand of Spain.
- Head down to the Basement Gallery, filled with memorabilia relating to the Iron Duke, including a wealth of medals, shields and weaponry.
- Admire the dazzling interiors of Apsley House, with furniture, statues, trinkets and rugs gifted to the military man by a whole range of emperors, tsars and monarchs from across the globe.
Apsley House facts
- Wellington is considered one of the greatest ever British military heroes but was in fact born in Dublin, Ireland. He even went into the Irish Parliament at the age of 20, serving for five years.
- There are over 90 pubs named after the Duke of Wellington in the UK.
- Wellington Boots gain their names from the Duke of Wellington. He wore multipurpose, customised footwear during military campaigns, which had a lower heel and more of a lining than the standard-issue Hessian boot worn by others. They were designed to be appropriate for a formal evening setting too. They started being manufactured from rubber rather than leather in 1852, but the name stuck.
Statue of the Duke of Wellington
See the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington that faces Apsley House from the centre of the roundabout at Hyde Park Corner. It depicts the famous military man atop his horse Copenhagen. It was created by sculptor Joseph Boehm and unveiled in 1888.
Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
Make sure you see the portrait of the first Duke of Wellington hanging in the house, painted by Thomas Lawrence.
Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker
The Duke of Wellington had a colossal nude statue of his great foe, Napoleon, in his house. Presenting Napoleon in the form of Roman god Mars, the sculpture was commissioned by Napoleon himself and created by famed Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. Once displayed in the Louvre, the statue was purchased by the British government and gifted to the Duke of Wellington. It is now displayed in Apsley House.
Know before you go
Getting in: show your pass at the entrance.
For more information visit the Apsley House website.
Where you'll be
149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London, GB
From April 21
Wednesday-Sunday: 11AM - 5PM
Closings & holidays
From December 21 to January 1
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