Wellington Arch review
Visit London Drum’s YouTube channel for more videos
I'm guessing that most people come to Wellington Arch for just one reason: to have a sneaky peek over the wall into Buckingham Palace. They're hoping to see the Queen sunbathing on her manicured lawn, or Prince Philip testing out his shotgun on the sparrows. Alas, the view into the gardens is quite disappointing... but more on that later.
This place is like a Tardis inside, and a lot bigger than you'd imagine from the front. They've got a few rooms on a couple of floors, which they use for exhibitions. At the time of writing they've got a bit about the Battle of Waterloo, but it might have disappeared by the time you arrive. The most interesting exhibit for me is always the permanent one, which tells you about the architecture of the arch itself. And yes, I know exactly what you're thinking -- yawn, yawn, yawn -- but it's actually a very interesting story.
Wellington Arch originally looked a lot different than it does today, because it started off at right angles, facing Apsley House. When they built the main round they shifted it back and spun it round ninety degrees, so now it faces down Constitution Hill instead. It also had a colossal bronze statue of the Duke of Wellington on top. As soon as they lifted it into position it was obviously too huge for its seat, but nobody wanted to upset England's greatest-ever general by knocking him off the top of his triumphal arch, (especially when he only lived over the road), so they had to wait for him to die before installing the four horses we see today. Check out the old photos and drawings of what it used to look like in its original state -- it's very interesting (if you're a saddo like me, that is).
The highlight is obviously the balcony at the top. There are actually two of them -- one on each side. The first one overlooks Hyde Park Corner and Apsley House, whilst the other one stares straight down Constitution Hill. You can't see Buckingham Palace at all, unfortunately, because it's totally hidden behind the trees. All you can see of the gardens is a little piece of the gravel path, and maybe some tennis courts (it's difficult to make them out through the leaves). And there is no way that the Queen ever risks walking around there -- not when people can spy on her from the arch -- so the chances of you seeing her walking her corgis is non-existent.
If you want to have a game of "spot the landmark" with me, then try and find The Shard and the London Eye (you'd have to be blind to miss those!). Big Ben is very easy, and so is Westminster Abbey. That's pretty much all you can see.
[Note: Wellington Arch is currently wrapped around in scaffolding, so this is an old photo of the outside, but the balcony views were all taken today.]
What do you think?Please leave a comment
I’ve been here more than once…
Have you seen my London book?
Honest reviews of London’s landmarks and attractions
Money saving tips things to do for free and cheap days out
Useful information with opening times, prices, photos, maps
Fri 18th Aug, 2017Hi, I'm glad you enjoyed the review. Clarence House is going to be closed in October, by the way, if you were... more
Thu 10th Aug, 2017I emailed them to ask, and got this reply back: You are more than welcome to bring your dog on our boat trip. Not only... more
Tue 8th Aug, 2017Cheers Jim, I hope your enjoy your visit. I've been to Sydney a few times so I'm almost an Aussie. Never got... more
Wed 19th Jul, 2017It's a beautiful building to visit and well worth seeing inside, but I agree that the court cases themselves can be... more
Sat 15th Jul, 2017I can not think about your review, I am still laughing ... thanks. I plan to visit the Jewel Tower in August. The... more
Mon 10th Jul, 2017it's funny that you posted your comment today because I've just been thinking about going again (it's... more
Tue 27th Jun, 2017Not sure I can really help with a visa mate, but I hope you enjoy your visit
Tue 20th Jun, 2017I'm in the Top 10 fruitcakes, definitely... maybe the Top 5 on a good day
Tue 30th May, 2017Cheers bob, handy piece of info
Mon 29th May, 2017They're basically just buskers so I wouldn't have a clue, sorry. You could try contacting the Covent Garden... more
Thu 25th May, 2017To be honest I can't remember. You definitely can at St. Paul's because I sat in them myself (but then... more
Wed 24th May, 2017Apparently that's nothing more than a pat on the head, to tell the horse he's done a good job. But it's... more