London Drum

Visit Wellington Arch – The Duke of Wellington’s Triumphal Arch by Hyde Park

Where? Wellington Arch, Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner · Web: Opening times? 10 AM to 5 PM (Wed-Sun, Apr-Oct); 10 AM to 4 PM (Wed-Sun, Nov-Mar); Last entry 30 mins before closing Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £6.60; Children £4.00 (5-17); Infants free entry (under-5); Family ticket £17.20 Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is 30-45 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 137, 414 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Hyde Park Corner Piccadilly Train fares

Craig’s review… It’s hard to picture it now with all the traffic roaring round Hyde Park Corner but two hundred years ago this was on the very edge of London. You’ve got to imagine the grand houses of Piccadilly stretching all the way up to Apsley House and then just fields and trees to Kensington Palace. (That’s why Apsley House was nicknamed No.1 London – because it was the first big house you saw by the Kensington Turnpike tollgate.)

Wellington Arch at the top of Constitution HillPhoto: Craig Cross
Wellington Arch at the top of Constitution Hill

History of the Wellington Arch

After our victory over Napoleon they decided to build a grand processional route from the edge of town to Buckingham Palace. The idea was that the soldiers would all assemble in the park and march through that decorative gateway to the Green Park Arch (as it was then called), then parade down Constitution Hill to Marble Arch. (Marble Arch was later moved to the top end of Oxford Street – but it originally stood outside the palace.)

Duke of Wellington’s equestrian statue

A government committee then suggested that it would be a fine idea if the project also included two new monuments for the big heroes of the war, so Nelson got his column in Trafalgar Square and Wellington was promised a statue on top of the Green Park Arch outside his house.

Unfortunately their attempt to impress him by building the country’s largest-ever equestrian statue backfired somewhat when the huge horse was lifted into position because even the architect admitted it looked ridiculous. It met with so much derision that the government made moves to remove it until Wellington let it be known that he’d consider it a personal insult.

Duke of Wellington statue by the Triumphal ArchPhoto: Craig Cross
Duke of Wellington statue opposite the Triumphal Arch

Arch moved to the top of Constitution Hill

And that’s how things stayed until thirty-six years after the Duke’s death when the entire arch was moved a short distance across the top of the hill so they could slice a new road behind it. The horse was then re-located to Aldershot and a smaller one was put up opposite Apsley House, close to where the arch originally stood (actually it was a little further to the west, lining up exactly with the centre of that decorative gateway).

Peace descending on the Quadriga of War, by Adrian JonesPhoto: Craig Cross
Sculpture of ‘Peace descending on the Quadriga of War’

But that’s not quite the end of the story, because eighty years later the Victorian horse and carts had turned into modern motors and they had to re-route all of the roads again, marooning the arch on its own little island.

Exhibition inside Wellington Arch

They’ve got a little exhibition inside which is worth a visit. The first room goes over its history and includes a few interesting pictures and paintings of the arch in its original position. You can see some old photos of the huge horse on top as well.

Museum exhibition inside Wellington ArchPhoto: Craig Cross
The museum exhibition inside Wellington Arch

The next three rooms contain temporary exhibitions and can be a bit hit and miss, showing everything from old panto posters to photos of the trenches in World War I.

View of Apsley House from the balcony

After climbing a few flights of stairs you’ll step out onto a balcony overlooking Apsley House and the decorative gateway half-hidden behind some trees. (I wish they would chop those trees down!)

View of Apsley House and the Hyde Park gateway from Wellington ArchPhoto: Craig Cross
View of Apsley House and the Hyde Park gateway

The balcony on the other side looks across Constitution Hill towards Big Ben and the London Eye. While the wind is grabbing and flapping at your coat check out that boring brick wall on the righthand side that’s topped off by a wire fence, because over the other side of that are the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

View of Buckingham Palace Gardens from Wellington ArchPhoto: Craig Cross
View of Buckingham Palace Gardens from the balcony

You can’t see the actual palace itself because it’s totally hidden behind the trees, but you can see a short stretch of gravel path and maybe some tennis courts (it’s difficult to make them out through the foliage). I’m always hoping that I might get lucky and see the King and Queen Consort but they probably avoid that area for security reasons.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Apsley House (you can walk there in less than 1 min) and Marble Arch (walk it in 16 mins or travel from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch by underground). You can also visit the Duke of Wellington’s tomb at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and some of his Waterloo memorabilia at the National Army Museum

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon. This review was updated on

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dan We didn't see the queen in the garden

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