Apsley House, home of the first Duke of Wellington, is one of the capital's finest residences. Also known as 'Number One London', because it was the first house encountered past the toll-gate into London from the countryside.
Its sumptuous interiors house the Duke's outstanding collection of paintings, silver, porcelain, sculpture, furniture, orders, medals and memorabilia.
From 1992-1995 Apsley House was restored to its former glory as the private palace of the 'Iron Duke'. Apsley House is the last great London townhouse with collections largely intact and family still in residence.
The London Palace of The Duke of Wellington
Apsley House was designed by Robert Adam and built between 1771 and 1778.
Here Wellington made his London home after a dazzling military career in India, Spain and Portugal, culminating in his victory at Waterloo in 1815.
When he bought Apsley House in 1817 he was the most powerful commander in Europe and his huge popular support gave him enormous political influence.
Wellington enlarged the house to express his status, adding the 90-foot-long Waterloo Gallery, and enriched it with his collection, creating a setting fit for a Duke.
Wellington's military success brought him impressive gifts from grateful kings and emperors.
Many of the paintings originally came from the Spanish Royal Collection, including
the celebrated Waterseller of Seville, one of four works by Velazquez. In addition to the 17th-century Spanish pictures, there are many by the Dutch and Flemish masters and the 19th-century British school.
The collection includes important works by Goya, Rubens, Correggio, Brueghel, Steen, de Hooch, Wilkie and Lawrence.
Dominating the ornate staircase is Canova's colossal nude statue of Napoleon, which, as the subject commented at the time, is, 'rather too athletic'.
The house was used for entertaining on a grand scale, and Wellington's great dinner and dessert services are on display.
Napoleon commissioned the Sèvres Egyptian Service for his Empress Josephine.
The vast silver Portuguese Service, with an 8-metre-long centrepiece, adorned the table at the annual Waterloo Banquet, a great event at which the Duke entertained officers who had served under him at Waterloo and in the Peninsular War.
Education at Apsley House
The education department has developed various tours and activities specifically relating to units and programmes of study of the National Curriculum, suitable for all state and independent schools from Key Stage 1 to History A level.
There are pre-visit discussions, facilities and equipment related to these topics.
Guided tours and exclusive out-of-hours tours are available and self-guided groups are also welcome, please book in advance.
Limited access for the disabled.
Share this article
Underground: Hyde Park Corner (Exit 3).
Apsley House Postcode for SatNav: W1J 7NT