Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner in London is to reopen as an exhibition space and gallery.
The Quadriga Gallery will host a series of exhibitions that will explore the history and heritage of England, from the story of Stonehenge to the influence of Egyptian culture and design on the architecture of England.
The Arch will also house a new permanent exhibition telling the history of this famous London landmark.
Visitors will be able to step out onto the balconies on top of the Arch and enjoy glorious views of the capital, including the Royal Parks and the Houses of Parliament and watch the Household Cavalry as it passes to and from the changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade.
Dismantled and moved
Wellington Arch was built in 1828 as a grand outer gateway to Buckingham Palace and as a victory arch to commemorate Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon. Victorian traffic jams meant that in 1883, the Arch was dismantled and moved some 20 metres to its current location.
It then became London’s smallest police station; in 1952, a few years before the station’s closure, there were 10 constables, two sergeants and a cat called Snooks stationed there.
Set on the top two floors of the Arch, The Quadriga Gallery is named after the enormous bronze sculpture (the largest in Europe) of the Angel of Peace and her four-horsed chariot which crowns the monument.
The face of the charioteer leading the quadriga is that of a small boy and the angel was modelled on Beatrice Stewart. The statue of the Iron Duke was placed near the Garrison Church at Aldershot, home of the army, where it remains to this day.
The Gallery’s exhibitions in 2012 will look at England’s most famous historic sites and its lesser known gems while the 2013 programme will look at the heritage movement – from the early days of heritage protection in the 19th century through to the great conservation battles of the 1960s and 70s and on to how historic buildings and landscape can be best protected, both now and in the future.
Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “English Heritage is very excited to be able to present a series of topical exhibitions right in the heart of London: we hope that the new gallery will become a popular venue for people interested in England’s history and heritage.”
The exhibitions at The Quadriga Gallery for 2012 are:
- Stonehenge: Monumental Journey (9 May – 24 June): For centuries, Stonehenge has been a place of wonder and of religious pilgrimage, of celebration and of protest, of music festivals and of tourist curiosity. This exhibition will show how the monument has been experienced and presented over time and how Stonehenge will soon be freed from the “roads triangle” and reconnected with the wider landscape.
- Blackpool: The Wonderland of the World (4 July – 27 August): Archive posters, prints and photographs will evoke the magic and glamour of two of Blackpool’s most remarkable buildings – Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens. Their architecture and role in the history of light entertainment will be celebrated as will their repair and restoration, the result of a partnership between English Heritage and Blackpool Council.
- The Ladies of Kenwood (6 September – 28 October): Successive wives and women have all influenced the appearance and experience of Robert Adam’s London masterpiece. As Kenwood House is closed for repair, this exhibition explores the intriguing stories of these ladies, through the sculpture, paintings furniture and jewellery associated with them. It includes Kenwood’s collection of miniatures and 1,500 glittering shoe buckles.
- Egypt in England (7 November – 6 January 2013) This exhibition will reveal the long-lasting and deep-seated influence of ancient Egypt on English architecture and design from Regency interiors to Art Deco cinemas
The refurbished Wellington Arch will also contain a new bookshop.
Wellington Arch is open Wednesdays to Sundays and on Bank Holidays, 10am-5pm. It will officially reopen on Wednesday 9 May.
The Arch may close to install new exhibitions, please call in advance or check the website for up-to-date information. www.english-heritage.org.uk/wellingtonarch
Wellington Arch (W1J 7JZ) stands between Hyde Park and Green Park. The nearest underground station is Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line).