One of my favorite stops on the Duke of Wellington Tour was at Stratfield Saye, Wellington’s country house. Like when Amanda and I visited the house in 2003, the weather was incredibly beautiful.
Here’s a view of the house from the back. It is so beautiful!
After the victory Waterloo, a grateful nation gave Wellington the funds to buy a property commensurate with his status as a duke and the hero who finally vanquished Napoleon. What was envisioned was something along the lines of Blenheim Palace. It was supposed to be called Waterloo Palace. Wellington liked Stratfield Saye because it was near enough to London and close to the property of a friend, but he ultimately abandoned plans for the Waterloo Palace because of the expense. He did improve the house, adding central heating and water closets….but not until after his wife passed away.
We could not photograph the inside of the house, but that was okay with me, because the house is still a family home. The present Duke of Wellington, who is 99 years old, still lives on the estate in another residence. His grandson and grandson’s family live in the house at present. As you go through the house you can see evidence of this fact, including a desk with stacks of paperwork, pens, and sticky pads on it.
Another sign that this is a country home still in use, was the sight of horses in the paddock.
No visit to Stratfield Saye would be complete without a visit to Copenhagen’s grave. Copenhagen was Wellington’s horse during the battle of Waterloo. The Duke rode Copenhagen during the entire battle. Copenhagen retired to Stratfield Saye and, after his death at 28 years, was buried under a beautiful oak tree on the property.
In the stable buildings are exhibits of memorabilia from Wellington’s life. Also on display is Wellington’s funeral coach, made in part from the iron of cannon from the battle of Waterloo. It is a Victorian monstrosity that the Duke would have hated, but it was lovingly created by teams of workers and seamstresses in a remarkably short period of time.
In the room housing the funeral carriage a recording of the accolades recited at Wellington’s funeral plays over and over. When I first heard this recording in 2003, I burst into tears, realizing that, in a way, I was in the presence of a truly great man.
Ever since that time, I’ve been a Wellington groupie and remain in armed combat with Kristine Hughes as to which of us is Wellington’s favorite!
Oh it’s so great to see this post. And remember, Copenhagen wasn’t buried under an oak tree, it grew out from his burial ground, as the seed was placed over his casket when he was buried. And it’s great you’re keeping in touch with the magnificent Kristine.
I missed that piece of information. That makes the tree even more special.
I hope things are going well for you and hope we meet again….hopefully in England!!!
Thank you for this post. I like the idea that the oak tree grew out of the grave.
Thanks for another great post, Diane. And yes, I wish I could have been there with you!
I love that pic from the back, Diane! Thanks for a great post.
Wonderful bits of history. Thanks so much for sharing it, Diane. I’m almost there… 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your visit to Stratfield Saye with us! I love the photos and all of the lovely history. And I would sooner get between Napoleon and Wellington than get between you, O Divine One, and Kristine when it comes to Wellington!
I only just saw this post. No doubt you thought you’d slip it in whilst I was distracted. Touche, mon ami. However, everyone (but you) is well aware that I am Artie’s favourite. I must thank you, though, for the photo of Copenhagen’s grave. I’m getting misty just thinking of that day – it was fab, made all the more special by sharing it with you, my darling rival. Wish we were back to snapping selfies in Merry Olde!