Thursday - 17 April 2014

Seat of power – where Wellington stood to watch Napoleon’s defeat

30 January 2012Written by ATG Reporter

AT Waterloo, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) is supposed to have directed the battle from a position near the crossroads of the Brussels and Ohain roads.

Within a few years of the battle, a nearby elm tree that may have been his observation post had been largely cut into pieces by souvenir hunters and the makers of keepsakes.

According to accounts at the time, it was John George Children of the British Museum who 'saved' the remains of the dying tree and commissioned a number of pieces of furniture to be made with the timber. An account of 1836 records the manufacture of two chairs, one given to Queen Victoria and another to Wellington himself. Other items have appeared on the market in past decades.

It was during an autumn valuation morning at the Chipping Norton branch of Gloucestershire auctioneers Tayler and Fletcher, that valuer Stephen Sheppard was shown a photograph of a Regency period elm cross-frame chair, proudly displaying the name Wellington in brass lettering to the top rail. A brass plaque, shown below,was inscribed:

This chair is formed from a tree which grew on the plains of Waterloo, and under which the Duke of Wellington stood during a great portion of the day on which he achieved the most glorious of his many Victories. The wood was given to me by J.G. Children Esq., of The B. Museum, who purchased the entire tree of its proprietor E.V.U.

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The vendor believes it had been purchased by a descendant at a country house sale in Oxfordshire during the 1950s. Valuation is difficult, but at the Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham on March 1, the newly-styled Wellington Chair will carry an estimate of £5000-8000.

Contact 01451 821666.

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