On 18 June Britain will celebrate the 200th anniversary of one of its most important battles – the decisive victory over Napoleon’s French forces at Waterloo.
Across London several top attractions are marking the bicentenary with a range of special events, exhibitions and activities – and history buffs keen to join in the celebrations can enjoy them all using the popular London Pass sightseeing card (www.londonpass.com).
At Hyde Park Corner, find the former home of the Duke of Wellington, the legendary commander whose tactical skill enabled the combined British and Prussian forces to defeat Napoleon. To mark the anniversary, the only surviving copy of a menu plan from annual banquets held by the Duke will be on display to visitors in The Waterloo Gallery. Also specially displayed for the bicentenary will be Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s painting, ‘The First of May 1851’, which depicts Wellington presenting a jewel casket to his baby godson Prince Arthur who is in the arms of his mother, Queen Victoria.
Elsewhere in the house, the basement galleries will feature a host of Wellington and Waterloo memorabilia which can be explored via four new multimedia tours. For families, there will be a dedicated tour which is designed to open up the treasures of Apsley House to the next generation. Normally priced at £6.90 per adult, entry to Apsley House is free with the London Pass.
After a visit to Aspley House, London Pass holders should stop by this iconic landmark, where in honour of the anniversary, a new English Heritage exhibition entitled Waterloo 1815 – The Battle for Peace is running. Providing an overview of what happened and why, it profiles key participants and explains the battle’s legacy. Visitors will also be able to view a pair of original ‘Wellington Boots’ plus the Duke’s sword and handwritten battle orders. Normally priced at £4.20 for adults, entry is free with the London Pass.
Household Cavalry Museum
Next, head for the Household Cavalry Museum at Whitehall to see stunning displays and rare exhibits including an original bugle used at the Battle of Waterloo. The call of the bugle can be heard in the Waterloo section of the museum’s popular touchscreen guide. Taking pride of place in the Waterloo Collection is a full-scale replica of Corporal Stiles – reputed to have captured the Eagle standard of the French 105th Ligne – plus a most recent addition: a hoof of Napoleon’s barb charger, Marengo, which has been fashioned into a silvered table snuff box. Visitors can also view some of the rare and remarkable personal effects used by soldiers on the battlefields at Waterloo, including a silver watch, tunics and musket balls. Entry to the Household Cavalry Museum, normally £7 per adult, is free with the London Pass.
Travel to the Royal residence of Windsor Castle to enjoy events and exhibitions themed around the Waterloo bicentenary. In the State Apartments, there is the opportunity to take a new multimedia tour and discover unique artefacts associated with Waterloo, such as Napoleon’s possessions, trophies from the battlefield and documents from the Royal Archives. A new exhibition will allow visitors to see prints and drawings that record the days before the battle, the military action and then the aftermath of the conflict.
The highlight of the visit to Windsor Castle however, is the Waterloo Chamber. Serving as a lasting monument to the battle and sitting at the heart of the castle, this year visitors gain unique access into and around the room to see portraits of the statesmen, politicians, diplomats and military leaders who were responsible for the defeat of Napoleon. Normally £19.20 per adult, entry to Windsor Castle is free with the London Pass – and pass holders also get to skip the queues!
A one-day London Pass costs £52 for adults and £35 for a child (aged 5-15 years). A three-day pass costs £85 for adults and £59 for children. Two-day and six-day passes are also available. Providing access to more than 60 top London attractions and offering queue-jumping privileges at some of the capital’s most sought-after sightseeing locations, the London Pass saves holders both time and money.
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