A military hero, a statesman and two-time Prime Minister, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852), was a military and political icon of 19th-century Britain, perhaps best known for his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. If you’re wondering ‘where did the Duke of Wellington live?’ Or you want to find our more about the places that this famous commander spent his life then we can help you follow in his footsteps and visit sites that relate to his life. There are a number of fascinating places relating to the life of the Duke that are waiting to be explored, including Waterloo Battlefield, Apsley House and St Paul’s Cathedral. If you have a more flexible itinerary then at the very least Salamanca Battlefield, Bussaco Battlefield and Talavera should all be on your list as well. With so many fascinating places to explore, it’s not necessarily easy to select the very best Duke of Wellington sites to visit, but we’ve painstakingly contemplated, deliberated and meditated over this list and come up with our top recommendations as well as a few others worth exploring if you have more time.
What are the most interesting sites linked to the Duke of Wellington?
It was at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 that the forces of the Duke of Wellington, together with Prussian forces, claimed an historic victory over Napoleon Bonaparte and his army. In fact, this was to be the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars, a seismic event that led to the second restoration of King Louis XVIII in France and the end of over two decades of conflict. For Napoleon, it meant the end of his rule and his career. Today, Waterloo Battlefield is a popular tourist site and includes numerous monuments, the most famous of which is the Lion Mound.
Apsley House was the home of the Duke of Wellington. In fact, Wellington lived there following his most famous victory, that over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Now managed by the English Heritage, Apsley House has a range of worthwhile things to see, such as its remarkable regency interiors and exhibits relating to the Duke of Wellington. There are many things at Apsley House which belonged to the Duke, including his impressive art collection, much of which once formed part of the Spanish Royal Collection and which includes pieces by several famous artists such as Canova and Velazquez.
Following his death at Walmer Castle in Deal on 14 September 1852, the Duke of Wellington was given a state funeral and interred in the crypt of the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral, next to Lord Nelson.
The Talavera Battlefield Monument commemorates the Battle of Talavera, which took place on 27 and 28 July 1809 and was the Duke of Wellington’s – then Sir Arthur Wellesley’s – first major victory of the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. The Talavera Battlefield Monument is a large memorial on the battlefield itself, although much of the battlefield is now separated by a road. It is actually a new monument, the original now being located on private land.
The Vimeiro Monument is an obelisk which commemorates the Battle of Vimeiro, fought between British-Portuguese forces under the (future) Duke of Wellington and French forces. This battle took place on 21 August 1808, just days after the Battle of Roliça in which the French were defeated. It formed part of the Peninsular War. The Battle of Vimeiro marked another victory for the British and culminated in the controversial Sintra Convention, whereby the French were allowed to leave Portugal.
The Battle of Salamanca was a major clash in the Peninsular Wars, part of the Napoleonic Wars. On 22 July 1812, the Duke of Wellington led the combined British, Spanish and Portuguese army to victory over the French forces led by Marshal Auguste Marmont. There is a small monument on the Salamanca Battlefield commemorating this historic event.
Bussaco Battlefield in Portugal was the site of a British-Portuguese victory against the French during the Peninsular War. The Battle of Bussaco took place on 27 September 1810 and the allies were led by the Duke of Wellington. Visitors can see the headquarters of the French Marshal André Masséna and also visit the nearby military museum.
Badajoz Fortress or ‘Alcazaba de Badajoz’ is a 12th century fortification in the city of Badajoz in Spain which now houses the Provincial Archaeological Museum. During the Peninsular War, the British made three attempts to breach Badajoz Fortress to capture it from the French. The third attempt, known as the Battle of Badajoz, took place between 16 March and 6 April 1812 and saw an Anglo-Portguese force, led by Arthur Wellesley the (future) Duke of Wellington, eventually breach the thick curtain walls of Badajoz Fortress. The allied forces then stormed Badajoz, causing large-scale destruction.