Apsley House was the home of the first Duke of Wellington - the one that defeated Napoleon Bonaparte - and is also known as Number One London because it was the first house encountered from the countryside after passing the tollgates at the top of Knightsbridge.
Apsley House is an opulent and palatial mansion managed by English Heritage. It has become a museum of art and treasures bestowed upon the Duke of Wellington, and allows visitors an insight into the grand lifestyle of this iconic figure.
Apsley House Visitor Information
149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London W1J 7NT
Nearest Tube Station: Hyde Park Corner
Use Journey Planner to plan your route by public transport.
Visit Duration: 1 hour+.
Apsley House is an historical building and therefore there are some steps. There is an elevator/lift but you would still need to negotiate the steps at the front entrance and to reach the lift on the ground floor.
About Apsley House
Apsley House was originally built by Robert Adam between 1771 and 1778 for Lord Apsley, who gave the house its name.
In 1807 Richard Wellesley bought the house, then sold it in 1817 to his brother, the Duke of Wellington, who needed a London base from which to pursue his new career in politics.
The architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt carried out renovations between 1818 and 1819 including adding the large Waterloo Gallery for the Duke's paintings, and facing the red brick exterior with the Bath stone.
Who Lives There Now?
The 9th Duke of Wellington still lives at Apsley House making it the only property managed by English Heritage in which the original owners' family still reside.
- Don't touch anything
- Don't sit on the antique furniture
- No photography
- Control children
- Audio tour available
- At the end of your visit, relax in the room next to the Entrance Hall and admire the leather-bound files of pictures of Wellington, Apsley House, and the art collection.
- No café but Hyde Park is a great place for a picnic.
- Could do with some dusting.
A Visit to Apsley House
The Entrance Hall includes an open plan gift shop which has a souvenir guide for £3.99.
By the 1820s the fashion for presenting monumental pieces of plate to national heroes was widespread and the Duke of Wellington received many. Don't miss The Plate and China Room, off the lobby, that houses grand dinner services that were gifts given to the Duke of Wellington following Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
Do see the swords by the window which include the sword (saber) carried by Wellington at Waterloo alongside Napoleon's court sword.
A 'must see' is the huge marble statue of a naked Napoleon by Canova at the bottom of the grand staircase. It was made for Napoleon but he rejected it as it felt he appeared "too muscular". In a most British way, a 'fig leaf' has been added to cover his modesty which is probably a good thing as it would be at eye level!
Upstairs you'll find the Piccadilly Room which has a great view of Wellington Arch, and the Portico Drawing Room with its high, white and gold ceiling.
The Waterloo Gallery has the 'wow factor'. This grand red and gold room, which overlooks Hyde Park, is a 90ft long picture gallery has some of the finest paintings of the Spanish Royal Collection including work by Romano, Correggio, Velazquez, Caravaggio and Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Murillo and Rubens. Look out for Goya's portrait of Wellington. From 1830 to 1852 the annual Waterloo Banquet was held here. (See the painting 'Waterloo Banquet of 1836' by William Slaterton on display on the Entrance Hall.) Staff are careful to adjust window shutters on bright days to protect the paintings and interior decor.
More rooms include the Yellow Drawing Room and the Striped Drawing Room which is a Benjamin Dean Wyatt renovation.
The annual Waterloo Banquets were held in the Dining Room until 1829 and the original table and chairs are in the room, along with some of the 26ft/8m long Portuguese table service which is one of the greatest surviving examples of Portuguese neo-classical silver.
In the Basement Gallery you can see artifacts from Wellington's horse: Copenhagen, and a pair of Wellington's boots, which have given the name to wellies.