Belgium // Brussels //

The Musée Wellington

The Musée Wellington, chaussée de Bruxelles 147 (whttp://www.museewellington.com), occupies the old inn where Wellington slept the nights before and after the battle. It’s an enjoyable affair, whose displays detail the build-up to – and the course of – the battle via plans and models, alongside an engaging hotchpotch of personal effects. Room 4 holds the bed where Alexander Gordon, Wellington’s principal aide-de-camp, was brought to die, and here also is the artificial leg of Lord Uxbridge, another British commander: “I say, I’ve lost my leg,” Uxbridge is reported to have said during the battle, to which Wellington replied, “By God, sir, so you have!” After the battle, Uxbridge’s leg was buried here in Waterloo, but it was returned to London when he died to join the rest of his body; as a consolation, his artificial leg was donated to the museum. Such insouciance was not uncommon among the British ruling class and neither were the bodies of the dead soldiers considered sacrosanct: tooth dealers roamed the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars pulling out teeth, which were then stuck on two pieces of board with a spring at the back – primitive dentures known in England as “Waterloos”.

In Wellington’s bedroom, Room 6, there are copies of the messages Wellington sent to his commanders during the course of the battle, curiously formal epistles laced with phrases like “Could you be so kind as to …”. Finally, an extension at the back of the museum reprises what has gone before, albeit on a slightly larger scale, with more models, plans and military paraphernalia plus a lucid outline of the immediate historical background.