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Where a hero breathed his last

By tboullemier, Sep 13 2017 03:45PM

I HAVE faithfully followed his marches ‘through Flanders, Portugal and Spain, over the hills and far away’. As the famous signature tune goes in the TV series ‘Sharpe’.

My journeys have taken me from Salamanca and Talavera to Quatre Bras and Waterloo. And now I am standing in the room where he breathed his last.

It is of course the bedroom of the Duke of Wellington at Walmer Castle in Kent. A modest room that also served as his study.

His deathbed was his simple camp bed from the Peninsular War, although strictly speaking, he died in the rather more comfortable armchair nearby, which his servants had to help him into.

And his iconic boots stand outside in a display case.

Walmer is an interesting castle with circular walls, built as a gun platform by Henry Vlll in 1539 to defend us against invasion threats from those Frenchies.

Towards the end of his life, Wellington was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and with Walmer the warden’s official residence, he spent much of his last 23 years there.

He died in Walmer in 1852 aged 83 and while he lay in state, 9,000 visitors filed past his coffin in this very room.

The castle was once condemned as cold and draughty and Wellington spent most of the time in this bedroom-cum-study.

Other Wardens who spent time at Walmer include William Pitt the Younger, Sir Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. They and other later residents made the castle a lot cosier.

It would now be a pleasure to spend an evening in Walmer's drawing room which boasts a long telescope that can see clear across the Channel.

Very useful for a Duke who might wish to keep a close eye on those Frenchies . . .

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