Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner was built in 1778 by Robert Adam for Lord Apsley, the then Lord Chancellor.
Its location, next to the main turnpike (toll) entrance into London, gave rise to it being known as No 1 London, where central London started.
In 1817 Apsley House was granted to the Duke of Wellington by a grateful Nation, providing him with a London residence after his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo. Although it is now run by English Heritage it is still used today by his direct descendent, the 8th Duke.
The Grade I listed building contains the Wellington museum and gallery which includes over 3000 works of art; paintings, porcelain, silver and the colossal heroic nude statue of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker.
The 3.4m high statue of Napoleon I of France was created by the Italian artist Antonio Canova and took over 4 years to build. Originally owed by Louis XVIII and displayed in the Louvre, Paris it was purchased by the British government in 1816, who
presented it to the Duke of Wellington.
There is a bronze copy of the statue in the courtyard of the Palazzo Brera, Milan.
With some of Adam’s original interiors surviving, Apsley House is the best preserved example of an 18th century English aristocratic town house.
Highlights of the rooms, which are maintained in their original style and décor are; the semi-circular Staircase, the Drawing Room with its apsidal end, and the Portico Room, behind the giant Corinthian portico added by Wellington.
In 1889 Apsley House become one of the first locations in the world to be featured in a moving film. The short film showed horse drawn cabs, open top buses and people walking past Hyde Park Corner.