Step to it: The Duke of Wellington’s mounting stone

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Duke of Wellington’s horse mount on Waterloo Place

© Internet Archive Book Images 2014

Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke Of Wellington, was a regular at the Athenaeum
© Internet Archive Book Images 2014

The 1st Duke Of Wellington is one of the country’s most famous soldiers and statesmen, having defeated Napoleon at the Battle Of Waterloo and serving as Prime Minister twice. Although there has been seven subsequent Duke Of Wellingtons since his death, it is Arthur Wellesley most of us think of when we hear the title.

Around London there are many monuments to the late, great Duke Of Wellington (1769 – 1852), such as the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park Corner, his sarcophagus in St Paul’s Cathedral and an equestrian statue of him outside the Royal Exchange in the City of London to name but a few. There are also many buildings connected to the Duke, such as Apsley House on Hyde Park Corner and Walmer Castle in Kent, where he died at the age of 83.

While Wellington’s belongings can be seen in museums and stately homes, one piece of memorabilia remains on a busy London street, with thousands passing it each day unaware of the significance. Sitting on the pavement outside the Athenaeum Club, on Waterloo Place near the junction with Pall Mall is a pair of unassuming granite stones. To those walking by, they may not even be noticed at all or simply dismissed as a plain old piece of London street furniture.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The pair of unassuming granite stones remain outside the Athenaeum Club

However, to those who take a closer look, these stones are in fact a mounting step to get on and off a horse. During the Duke’s tenure as Prime Minister (January 1828 – November 1830), he was a regular at the Athenaeum Club, of which the original building still stands today. Designed by architect Decimus Burton (1800 – 1881), it is one of the country’s most famous gentlemen’s clubs, with Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Joseph Conrad, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy among its prestigious alumni of past members. As the transport of choice for many in the 1800s, the Duke used to arrive at the club on horseback. In 1830 – six years after the club was founded – Prime Minister Wellesley suggested the club should erect some mounting stones to assist in getting on and off horses. Then in his 60s, the Duke would not have been as amble as he once was so the stones would have encouraged a more graceful dismount.

Over 180 years later, the stones remain on the kerb, although these days unused. On the inward facing side, a rusty plaque reads: ‘This horseblock was erected by desire of the Duke Of Wellington 1830.’

  • The mounting stones are on Waterloo Place, just south of Pall Mall and outside the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, St James, SW1Y 5ER. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Green Park.

For a post on the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park Corner, read A monument to victory, grand park entrance and an upset Duke: History behind the Wellington Arch.

For more Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via photopin cc

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About LondonMetroGirl

Media professional who was born, brought up and now works in London. My blog is a guide to London - what's on, festivals, history, restaurant reviews and attractions, as well as the odd travel piece. All images on my blog are © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl, unless otherwise specified. Do not use without seeking permission first.

Posted on 18 October 2014, in History, London and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. One of a pair… Although this post talks about one outside the Athenaeum Club, the photo shows a stone balustrade at the back of the footway behind the mounting block showing it is the one opposite outside the old United Services Club building, now the Institute of Directors. The one outside the Athanaeum has the stone columns of the entrance portico behind it. Both blocks have a Wellington plaque on, (and both are listed).

  1. Pingback: A monument to victory, grand park entrance and an upset Duke: History behind the Wellington Arch | Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

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