In time for the rush of visitors expected in 2015, the town of Waterloo, a ten-minute drive from the battlefield, is upgrading the charmingly intimate Wellington Museum, based in the house that served as the Iron Duke’s headquarters.
Between March and May, the museum will open a new display area to feature the lives of both Wellington and Napoleon (including the latter’s distinctive hat, borrowed from Paris), comparing and contrasting their lives. The two great generals were born in the same year, 1769. Both read the works of Caesar and chose Hannibal as their personal hero. They enjoyed the pleasures of two of the same mistresses and ate food prepared by the same chef – and Waterloo was the last battle for both of them.
The museum has numerous remarkable objects, such as a captured French cannon and the false leg worn by the Earl of Uxbridge, commander of the British cavalry, after his leg was amputated after the battle.
The pivotal importance of Waterloo in global history is reflected by the fact that 124 places in the world, including the capital of New Zealand, are named after it. An illuminated map of the word shows you where they all are.Allow about half a day for the trip to the key battlefield sites, the surrounding villages and the Wellington Museum.