It’s the last surviving aristocratic London townhouse open to the public
THE ADDRESS: Aspley House is the product of two very different styles of building and decoration. The original house was designed and furnished between 1771 and 1778. Much of this was away when Apsley was remodelled for the Duke of Wellington from 1890. As it appears today is largely a product of Wellington. In 1947 Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington, gave the house and collections to the nation. Apsley was the first house on the north side of Piccadilly, and consequently it became as “Number 1, London”. Its correct postal address is now 149 Piccadilly.
The Collection in Apsley House
The majority of paintings came from the Spanish Royal Collection, rescued from a fleeing Joseph Bonaparte after the Battle of Vitoria in northern Spain. Later the paintings were officially given to Wellington by King Ferdinand of Spain. Two hundred were recovered and today 83 still hang at Apsley House.
Wellington also bought some important old masters, Dutch paintings when a Parisian financier sold off his collection in 1818. The collection also contains important pieces of Meissen and Sévres porcelain and a large assortment of silver.
This is one of the great and impressive interiors of Britain. More than 28m long, the gallery fills two storeys and stretches beyond the back of the original house by two window bays and its own extension built between 1828 and 1829.
The Duke of Wellington had several reasons for creating such an impressing space. It may have been to hold the Waterloo Banquet, an annual dinner held at Apsley House to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon. The Waterloo Gallery also raised Apsley House from an aristocratic town house to palatial status.
Paintings by many famous artists – including Valèzquez, Goya and Breughel – hang throughout the first-floor rooms. A colossal nude statue of Napoleon dominates the stairwell at the centre of the house.
NEW STYLE: Apsley also offers new visitor information, a layered multimedia guide and children’s multimedia guide, and basement gallery displays.
Bring me to Apsley House
Address: 149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London W1J 7NT. Tube: Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Line. More details: Aspley House
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