At the western end of Piccadilly stands the traffic intersection known as ‘Hyde Park Corner’ – in the central island (or roundabout as we Brits call them) stands a massive triumphal arch – ‘Wellington Arch’ – topped with a statue of the goddess Nike and built to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.
Standing on the northern side of the intersection stands Apsley House, originally built in the 1770’s by the renowned architect Robert Adam for the then Lord Chancellor Lord Apsley. 1807 the house was purchased by Richard Wellesley – the 1st Marquess Wellesley – but he sold it in 1817 to his younger brother – Sir Arthur Wellesley – who was by then known as the Duke of Wellington. Wellington was progressing his political career, and the house is a short walk from the Palace of Westminster.
Apsley House was also known as Number One, London, as it was the first house encountered by travellers entering London through the turnpike at Knightsbridge. It was originally the first of an unbroken row of buildings along Piccadilly, but several were demolished to make way for Park Lane.
The current Duke of Wellington retains an apartment in the building, but the rest of the building forms the Wellington Museum, administered by English Heritage and is open to the public.
The nearest underground station is Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly Line, and the official address is 149 Piccadilly, but somehow ‘Number One, London’ is more befitting the memory of the great Duke of Wellington.