The Battle of Waterloo took place on June 18 in 1815 in what is now part of Belgium. Napoleon Bonaparte was finally defeated by a British-led coalition led by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Army. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
Yet this far away battle remains part of the history of Brighton & Hove over 200 years later in the names of its streets including Wellington Road and Waterloo Place. Kerrison Mews off of Waterloo Street in Hove is named after battle survivor Sir Edward Kerrison who lived in the area.
Pub names such as The Duke of Wellington in Upper Gloucester Road show how the battle captured the public’s imagination. Other veterans of the war are buried in graveyards across the city. Keep an eye out for the references on streets signs and names of buildings and you will see them everywhere.
In our Willett Collection of Popular Pottery we have souvenirs like this chamber pot with a lurking Napoleon, a figure of threat to the British public who also faced poverty thanks to the huge cost the wars were inflicting on the taxpayers.
The Prince Regent, who created the Royal Pavilion and later became George IV was fascinated by all things military but was not allowed to fight as he was heir to the throne. He did follow the battles through maps and dispatches and was happy to spend hours sharing the news from the front with his friends dressed in a military uniform. He also pretended he’d fought in the war disguised as a German general to wind up the Duke of Wellington.
After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Great Britain had become the most powerful nation in Europe. George IV’s coronation in 1821 was meant to eclipse Napoleon’s own lavish coronation in 1804. George was determined that his coronation should outshine that of the deposed emperor and the final sum worth £9 million in today’s money was the most expensive coronation ever in Britain.
With such historical links in the city to this battle, it only seems fitting that when the Eurovision Song Contest was held at Brighton Dome for the first and only time in 1974 the winning song by ABBA was … Waterloo.
Caroline Sutton, Press & Media Officer