Sunday, 18 August 2019


Last week I paid a visit to Apsley House, once the home to Arthur Wellesley,
the First Duke of Wellington.  And this neo classical Grade 1 listed building
which was first built between 1771 and 1778 didn't come into the ownership
of the Duke and his family until 1817, two years after his famous final victory
at The Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The House is now a museum open to the public. And if anyone might be planning
on a cultural visit to our capital, I can only say that the art collection in this
London landmark at Hyde Park Corner, is simply staggering.

My only disappointment was that after snapping away half a dozen
pictures, I was reminded that photography was not allowed. Perhaps the
warning was in the small print on the website, which I must have missed.

But I was pleased to see a painting that has recently been in the news.
A Titian work titled 'Orpheus Enchanting the Animals' was recently restored
and cleaned up and is back on show at Apsley House. It was thought at one
time that it might not be the work of Titian. But they now believe that it is,
but that the work may have been completed by Titian's studio assistants.

Below is a youtube video courtesy of English Heritage showing just how the
painting was cared for and lovingly restored by Alice Tate-Harte, a fine arts
Collection Conservator.

These days I often look back at my History lessons at School with a sense of
anger and criticism because we were taught very little about internal British
history. The subjects we mostly covered were all about The Commonwealth
and the political history of far flung places that had nothing to do with internal
British culture.
And this is why I never knew until after my visit to Apsley House, that the
1st Duke of Wellington served twice as the British Prime Minister. So much
for my School history classes that basically taught us nothing about internal
British history or culture. And I also remember that anything about Winston
Churchill and the Second World War simply was not part of our history

But one thing you have to admit is that these men from the past were certainly
more windswept and interesting, to use a phrase often quoted by Billy Connolly.
Imagine that you have someone like The Duke of Wellington who not only served
in our Parliament, but also took part in British military action.
Apparently The Duke had a cantankerous and difficult time with another
politician called Lord Winchilsea. So they settled their political argument
with a pistols at dawn scenario in Battersea Park.  But they deliberately
missed each other in firing, and honour was satisfied.

Today the current 9th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Charles Wellesley, resides
in apartments in Apsley House. 




Above:  Apsley House - image via English Heritage

Above:  Titian's  'Orpheus Enchanting the Animals'
Image via Art-UK-org
In the video below we see Conservator Alice Tate-Harte working
on the restoration of Titian's great work.

Apsley House from the Green opposite.

Above:  Apsley House in 1829 by T.H. Shepherd
Facing Apsley House on the Green opposite is a statue of The Duke
of Wellington alongside Wellington Arch.

Below: The very impressive statue of David situated by
Wellington Arch on the Green.  The statue by Francis Derwent
Wood is to commemorate the casualties of the Machine Gun Corps
during World War I.

A side view of Apsley House from the road and entering
Hyde Park.
Above and below: The monolithic statue of Achilles situated at
Hyde Park Corner was erected as a memorial to The Duke of Wellington
in praise of his military victories.
Created by Richard Westmaccot it was inaugurated in June 1822. 

Above and below:  Marble Arch.
And so off for a walk in London's Hyde Park.
Above and below:  The Serpentine Cafe and Lake.
Above and below: The Italian Renaissance Gardens
in Kensington Gardens.
Inspired by Prince Albert keen to copy the Gardens at
Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight, the Summer home of
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Built around 1860 and designed by James Pennethorne.



  1. I love the little boy underneath Peter Pan.

    Did you see the giant statue of Napoleon in the stairwell in Apsley House? It's hilarious - almost as if the Duke of Wellington having thoroughly kicked Bonaparte's arse in Europe then wanted to look at it every morning as he came down to breakfast.

    1. A. I had to laugh when I saw that huge statue of Napoleon. I thought it was Achilles or something similar.
      And there was I thinking that Napoleon was a rather small but portly figure.
      But you do imagine it acted as a kind of trophy for the Duke after Napoleon was given the 'Elba.'

    2. A. Oh yes the cute little boy. Many were watching him climb up the statue just to see if he could get to the top.
      After that about a dozen kids were all over it..just as we left.

      I once asked my Uncle Barrie why his name was spelt that way. He said that just after he was born that he was named BARRIE after the name of a close family friend J.M.Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan.

  2. The Napoleon statue was made for Bonaparte himself in 1806, to commemorate his victories up to that point. The Emperor apparently wasn't too fond of it. (It is, after all, a bit silly.) After Waterloo, the British Government bought it for Wellington. I can only assume it was as a sort of joke.

  3. We'd have got into a lot of trouble if we'd tried climbing on Peter Pan when we were that age. If I remember correctly, it was actually modelled on one of the Llewellyn-Davies boys.

    1. A. Seeing the statue made me think that they put the wrong description sign up. I thought...that's Bonaparte Napoleon, surely not
      I suspect he hated it as it looked nothing like him.

      The Peter Pan statue makes me think of the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park New York.
      The children used it as a sort of climbing frame. I thought some of them were going to fall off.
      I wonder if our own Peter statue was ever fenced off.
      Another great statue I posted up on my previous blog was The Boy and the Dolphin, hidden away by The Albert Bridge by The Thames right in front of a car showroom. It should have been placed in one of the big Royal Parks. It's a stunning piece of work.

    2. Correction....Napoleon Bonaparte.

  4. Luscious photos. I've seen some of what you photographed.

    1. Andrew, I'm sure you once stayed in the Lancaster Gate area of London with the Park close by.
      Although it's a bit of an expensive area compared to somewhere like Paddington.

    2. We did stay in Lancaster Gate and the hotel of the same name had a very cheap price and it was a nice place to stay.

  5. Great photos, Dee. I suppose Wellington House didn't have a Dogs Playing Poker painting, did they?

    1. Ken, No I didn't see Coolidge's Dog painting there. I think that Pop Art might look
      a bit out of place at Apsley House.
      But the paintings I did see were wonderful. A shame though I couldn't get more photos taken there.