Weston Park, the magnificent 17th century stately home on the Shropshire Staffordshire border is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo with a series of events to mark the decisive battle which drew to a close 23 years of war with the French.
Although the conflict wasn’t fought on British soil, the fear of invasion had been very real and the Napoleonic wars left their mark on country estates such as Weston.
Weston’s links begin with the younger son of the 1st Earl of Bradford, the Hon. Orlando Bridgeman, who was ADC to 1st Viscount Hill, one of the Duke of Wellington’s key generals and continue through to the funeral of the Iron Duke himself.
Orlando’s letters home, which survive in the Bradford Archive, bring serving in the French to wars to life with first hand descriptions of the conflict. Closer to home, in the Library at Weston, stand the Wellington Banners, a pair of pole screens which began life as saddlecloths bearing the Duke’s coat of arms that were a gift from Queen Victoria to thank the 3rd Earl of Bradford for assisting in the Duke’s funeral arrangements.
To mark this significant anniversary, Gareth Williams, Curator and Head of Learning to the Weston Park Foundation has put together a series of events to explore these fascinating stories in more detail.
From the beginning of May, the Granary Art Gallery on the estate will host a small exhibition about 1st Viscount Hill of Hawkstone and Almarez. The focus will be on the loan of an 1835 portrait of Hill by George Richmond which has not been seen in public for many years. Also shown with the painting is a satirical view of Hill’s abilities by the cartoonist Paul Pry.
On Wednesday 6th May, Weston will welcome Gareth Glover, a military historian who has studied the Napoleonic Wars for more than 40 years. Glover will deliver a lecture “A Young Gentleman at War” based on the letters of Orlando Bridgeman and considers his contribution to the war and life at Waterloo. The lecture will be followed by dinner in the Granary Grill.
During the summer open season, visitors to the House will be able to follow a self-led trail “Waterloo and Weston” throughout the House and see how the Battle, its heroes and social and economic impact can still be found 200 years on. Stories include the visit of Lord Hill to Weston and the copious amounts of wine drunk and how the Bridgeman family travelled through Europe as the French Wars raged.
George Richmond’s Portrait of Lord Hill at the Granary Art Gallery runs from 1st May to 1st August. 11am – 4pm – Free Entry
“A Young Gentleman at War” Lecture and Dinner takes place on Wednesday 6th May and tickets cost £39.00 per person and include three-course dinner in the Granary Grill. Generously sponsored by Horobin Ltd. (horobin.co.uk)
Waterloo & Weston House Trail runs throughout the summer season from Saturday 23rd May through to Sunday 6th September and the leaflet costs 50p in addition to standard admission.
For further information please visit www.weston-park.com