Highcliffe Castle would be a very different building had it not been for Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo 200 years ago. When Lord Stuart de Rothesay created Highcliffe Castle in the 1830s, he used ancient stonework from demolished buildings in Normandy, collected during his time as British Ambassador in Paris. Stuart was the Duke of Wellington’s ‘right hand man’ during the Peninsular War and was with Wellington in Brussels shortly before the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815.
Next week marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June. To commemorate this, Highcliffe Castle is hosting a diorama of over 4,000 model soldiers in battle formation, created by local historian Martin Axton.
Said Kelly Mitchell, Highcliffe Castle Activity and Learning Officer: “The diorama is a spectacular display and we are grateful to Martin Axton for kindly loaning this extensive collection. Martin will also be sharing his expertise on the Napoleonic Wars with our visitors, every Sunday in the Library Gallery at 3pm.”
In addition, Stephen Petty, a Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society and Member of the Waterloo Association, will be giving a series of eight illustrated talks throughout the summer at Highcliffe Castle. The first talk will take place on Monday 15 June at 11am on ‘The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball’. On Waterloo Day itself, Thursday 18 June, Martin Axton will explain the key stages of the Battle at 1pm, followed by a presentation on ‘The Captive Eagles: Wellington’s Cavalry at Waterloo’ by Stephen Petty at 2pm.
Explained Kelly: “The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, which took place in Brussels on 15 June 1815, has particular significance for us at Highcliffe Castle. Sir Charles Stuart, as British Ambassador, lent his liveried servants and silver plate to the Duchess for her ball, which was attended by the Duke of Wellington. It gave Wellington a crucial opportunity to give last-minute orders to his senior officers before the Battle.”
These illustrated talks are £4 each, including refreshments (usual admission charges also apply), and are free for Season Ticket holders. Bookings on 01425 278807 or drop in to reception at the Castle.
The Battle of Waterloo diorama and accompanying presentations will run until 13 September 2015.