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Friday, May 22, 2015

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON TOUR - POST #1: GETTING ORIENTED




Was it possible? All those months of planning and re-planning, posting and re-posting, fretting and re-fretting -- the day was finally here!  The Duke of Wellington Tour was underway!


September 4, 2014: All eighteen of us were in London...had arrived at the Grosvenor Hotel...and were ready for tea.  We were an eclectic group -- a wide range of ages and a large number of states represented from West  to East coast, from Texas to Minnesota.  Some of us had been pals for decades, others of us were new to each other.  We all shared one goal: to take in all we could of England, of London, of the Duke of Wellington's haunts, and whatever else happened to come our way.  Everyone was ready for an adventure.


Grosvenor Hotel
Lobby

Our first official event was tea in the Lounge: delicious!


Kathlynn's tea half consumed!


Our second event was not so successful. We tried to take the group on a pub crawl, but the thirsty Friday night after-work Londoners defeated us - there was no room at any of the inns, or pubs, we encountered.  So we returned to the Grosvenor's bar and there had plenty of room!


The Duke of Wellington Tour

We had an ambitious itinerary:


Saturday, 9/6:    
Apsley House, Wellington Arch, Tower of London - Wellington Exhibition, Horse Guards - Dismounting Ceremony, Household Cavalry Museum; Grenadier Pub for dinner

Horse Guards Parade, c. 1760, by John Chapman


 Sunday, 9/7:  
 Walking tour of St. James's or Day at leisure. 

Monday, 9/8: 
Walmer Castle, Dover Castle in Kent


Dover Castle atop the White Cliffs, from the Channel, 2011


 Tuesday, 9/9: 
Regency Townhouse, Hove; Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Sussex

Beauties of Brighton, 1826, by George Cruikshank


Wednesday, 9/10: 
Stratfield Saye, Hampshire
Explore Reading with Regency Author Beth Elliott

Thursday, 9/11: 
Highclere Castle, Basildon Park


Downton Abbey, AKA Highclere Castle


Friday, 9/12: 
Windsor Castle/Waterloo Chamber, Guildhall Museum, Berkshire


Waterloo Chamber, Windsor Castle, by Joseph Nash, 1848


Saturday, 9/13:
Frogmore House; Thames River Cruise


Windsor Castle from the Thames



Sunday, 9/14   Departure -- We shall forget about this aspect of the Tour for the time being -- as we travel leisurely through the rest of the tour events.



Long live the Duke of Wellington!!!



Follow our Tour Progress on Fridays in May, June, and so forth!  Many photo essays to come, as well. We can't wait to begin to relive it all over again while sharing it with you.





Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WATERLOO WEDNESDAY: WAR HORSE - THE REAL STORY




Today we pay tribute to the war horses who fought on both sides during the Battle of Waterloo. If you read through the lists of Regiments who fought at the Battle, you will find that most had a veterinary surgeon assigned to their ranks. For all practical purposes, in the aftermath of the Battle there were hardly enough medical staff to care for the human wounded - hospitals were sadly understaffed and medical supplies lacking. The sheer number of wounded overwhelmed even the most dedicated of the medical staff attached to Wellington, the Allies and the French. Many horses were so badly maimed or wounded that they could not be saved, nor could they be allowed to suffer. Many soldiers who had just witnessed the most horrific human casualties on the battlefield still found the heart to put their equine brothers in arms out of their misery in the hours after the Battle.

Of course, there is no visual record of the bonds that were forged between soldiers and their mounts at Waterloo other than, perhaps, the Duke of Wellington's own bond that was forged with his horse, Copenhagen, with whom he shared command during the Battle. After living out his retirement at the Duke's country estate, Stratfield Saye in Hampshire, Copenhagen was buried with full military honours, his grave and tombstone still to be seen on the property.

Pure History Specials: War Horse - The Real Story (60 minutes) is a superbly made documentary that uses period film, first hand accounts and historians to tell the story of how the soldiers of World War I lived, cared for and fought with their horses and sheds light on the day to day bond they shared and the attachments they forged with these equine brothers, and sisters, in arms.  Though WWI took place one hundred years after Waterloo, we can't help but believe that things hadn't changed all that much during the intervening century and that what held true in 1815 held true in 1914.

Here is a five minute clip of the British Heavy Cavalry from the film Waterloo (1970) with Christopher Plummer as Wellington.