The National Trust presents Calke Abbey as an illustration of the English country house in decline. Displays show how house was left when abandoned in the 1920’s and the NT refers to the property as an “unstately home.”
From Wikipedia: “Set in the midst of a landscape park, the National Trust presented Calke Abbey as an illustration of the English country house in decline. A massive amount of remedial work but no restoration has been done and interiors are almost as they were found in 1985 so the decay of the building and its interiors has been halted but not reversed. Before the National Trust work of the late 1980s everything had remained untouched since the 1880s. The Trust manages the surrounding landscape park with an eye to nature conservation. It contains such features as a walled garden, with a flower garden and a former physic garden, now managed as a kitchen garden. Some years after Calke was handed over to the National Trust to settle death duties, an heir was discovered: Andrew Johnson, a distant cousin of the Harpur family. Johnson was a wealthy resident of Vermont and the owner of important stands of timber and of a lumber business, though the popular press in Britain referred to him as a `lumberjack.’ Johnson was given the use of an apartment in the Abbey, which he and his family have used on occasional visits.”
And from The History of the County of Derby, Part 2 (1829) by Stephen Glover: “In this house, although it has never yet been put up, either for use or ornament, is, perhaps, one of the most splendid state beds in the kingdom, presented, on the occasion of her marriage,-by ” Caroline,” queen of George the Second, to Lady Caroline Manners (afterwards Harpur) as one of her bridemaids. This now beautiful seat was, in the memory of persons n6w living, one of the plainest and least ornamental, it is said, almost desolate and ugly, places in the county. The present improvements were all planned and executed by the late Sir Henry Crewe, bart. who devoted a life of retirement to this purpose, affording thereby, for many years, ample employment to the workmen and labourers of the surrounding neighbourhood. The house being ill supplied with water, Sir Henry Crewe, at a great expense, brought it from an excellent spring beyond Ticknall, about a mile and a half, to a covered reservoir in the park, from whence the stables, house, gardens, and dairy, are now fully and amply supplied. The style of architecture is Ionic, highly enriched, with fluted pilasters between the windows, and an elegant balustrade round the whole building, within which is a flat roof covered with lead. The stables are excellent, and stand on an elevated site to the north of the house.”
However, the Duke of Wellington is most closely connected to the Royal Horseguards, also called The Blues. He was appointed as Colonel of the Regiment on 1st January, 1813, which proved to be the first step towards raising The Blues to the distinction of belonging to the Household Calvary. Wellington was the first Colonel to take office as Gold Stick with the colonels of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, regiments with whom The Blues fought at the battle of Vittoria.
24 Hours in the Past is a BBC One living history TV series first broadcast in 2015. Six quasi-celebrities were immersed in a recreation of impoverished life in Victorian Britain. Each of the four episodes represented 24 hours living and working in four different occupations – dust yard (filmed at the Black Country Living Museum), coaching inn (the New Inn at Stowe), potteries (the Gladstone Pottery Museum) and the work house (Workhouse Museum in Southwell). You can watch the first episode at the link below – all four episodes are available on YouTube.
A year after Wellington had done with horse shoes, it appears he turned his pen to the matter of shoes for his troops –
Selections from the Dispatches and General Orders of Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington –
To the Earl of Liverpool. Celorico, 31st March, 1811.
The demand for shoes increases to such a degree that it is desirable that 150,000 pairs should be sent to the Tagus as soon as it may be practicable. It is very desirable that the shoes sent to the army should be of the best quality for wear, and should be made of the largest size.
And next it appears that the Duke had at some point been sent the wrong kind of shoes, adding to his level of frustration:
To Earl Bathurst, Lesaca, 23rd August, 1813.
My Dear Lord,
——– has sent me several pairs of his shoes, which I have endeavored to prevail upon him to desist from sending me, in terms not to mortify him. They are, in fact, of no use whatever. Those who travel on foot in this country do not wear shoes of that description. The Basques and Navarrois, and even some of the Castillians, wear sandals. The shoes worn by the common people, who do wear shoes, are made of brown leather. A man who should have on his feet, or in his possession, a pair of such shoes would be suspected immediately. They are, besides, too small for any common man. They are really quite useless, and it is better that no more should be sent.
Later in life, the Duke turned his great attention to detail upon the health and welfare of his friends and family. In the case of Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts, matters again turned to shoes. In Lady Unknown: The Life of Angela Byrdett-Coutts author Edna Healey tells us that Wellington wrote to Angela:
`Don’t forget you are to leave a pair of your shoes for me that I may have some galoshes made for you. I am in earnest with this; you like walking and appear not to mind much in which state of streets you go out in . . . all that I care about is that you must be kept dry when you go out into the wet streets.’
A pair of the Duke’s own gutta-percha galoshes are preserved at Stratfield-Saye. And in order to round out our piece on Wellington and shoes, here’s a link to an ad in a 1944 issue of Life Magazine featuring the Duke of Wellington.