‘Number One London’: The Amazing History of Apsley House

apsley house

On the South East corner of Hyde Park, standing alone while proudly facing Wellington Arch and built in gleaming Bath Stone sits Apsley House. The house has had many residents, but none more iconic and celebrated in British culture than Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, victor of Waterloo.

The house was built in 1770 for £10,000 – a mighty sum which, in today’s money, would amount to roughly £1.8 million – and is arguably the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period that stands today.

Apsley House
Apsley House also known as Number One, was built by Robert Adam between 1771-1778 for the then Lord Chancellor Lord Apsley. It became the London residence of The Duke of Wellington in 1817

Before the Duke of Wellington transformed it into the palatial residence we can now visit, the house was built for Lord Chancellor Henry, 1st Baron Apsley (later 2nd Earl Bathurst), by the fashionable architect Robert Adam. Apsley was the first house to be built across town from on the Northside of Piccadilly, and was built on land bought from the crown. Its position marks the entrance to Hyde Park, which is now across town from Montcalm London City and, as the first house to have been built there, held the address Number 1, London.

The Duke of Wellington, having just been granted a large sum by parliament to build a palace to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon, instead chose to buy the house off his older brother, who was struggling with debt after having spent £36,000 on refurbishments for the building.

Since taking on Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington greatly expanded it, building up and out to accommodate grand and stately bedrooms, sweeping staircases, dining rooms, a three-story extension and dressing rooms which would be filled with carpets, luxurious wallpaper, portraits, tapestries and ornaments of the finest materials available.

The Duke of Wellington didn’t simply bedeck his new mansion with fashionable decor. After he became Prime Minister in 1819, he built the impressive Wellington Gallery which was 28 metres long where he could entertain guests and display his vast, ever-growing collection of paintings. Most of these had been presented to him by European rulers, grateful for Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and the liberation of the continent.

The Duke was immensely protective over these treasures, and decreed in his will that they were not to be touched after his death. His heirs respected his wishes forming the Museum Room to display his trophies. It wasn’t until after the family suffered grave losses in the Second World War that it was decided that some of the 1st Duke of Wellington’s possessions and part of Apsley house itself be granted to the nation. Apsley House opened to the public in 1952, the centenary of the death of the 1st Duke of Wellington.

Now the grand old house still stands, looking as proud and palatial as ever just a 30 minute tube ride from Montcalm London City surrounded by modern day the most luxuriant 5 Star Boutique Hotels London has to offer, enabling every patron to feel as if they’ve got their own piece of palatial paradise near to Number 1, London.

If you’re planning a visit during your time with us, allocate at least half a day to explore the vast treasures and beautiful grounds. You won’t regret it.