Heritage > British Castles
THE WATERLOO CHAMBER
This great room was formerly an open court (hence the 'clerestory' lighting) and Wyatville cleverly utilised it to link the State and Private apartments and to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo. The annual banquet was held in Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington's Piccadilly home, until his death in 1852. The banquet was revived in 1914 by King George V and held in the Waterloo Chamber. The room was primarily designed to provide a fit setting for the portraits commissioned by George IV from Sir Thomas Lawrence who was ordered to paint all the principal personages involved in the defeat of Napoleon. They include portraits of Wellington himself, Prince Metternich, Pope Pius VII, the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, Field Marshal von Blucher, Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh and George IV. The enormous carpet is a relic of the Indian Empire and was made for Queen Victoria.
On June 18th a dinner is still held here (though not annually) to mark the anniversary of one of the decisive victories of the world.
Queen Victoria, who loved dancing and the theatre, often had famous actors perform at Windsor for her. This is one of the rooms in which a makeshift stage would be erected for these theatricals. In March 1893 the great Sir Henry Irving took the title role in Becket, a play which he made famous though there was some anxiety about 'disagreeable and coarse language'.
During Ascot week in 1903 the first great ball to be given at Windsor for 42 years took place in the Waterloo Chamber. This was the curtain-raiser to the brief but brilliant Edwardian era which was to end with the Great War.