This elaborate chair is made of the wood from an elm tree that stood on the battlefield of Waterloo. This tree stood on the ridge of Mont St. Jean, from which the Duke of Wellington observed Napoleon’s final advance.
One of the focal points for tourists who visited the field of Waterloo in the first three years after the battle was an elm tree standing on the ridge that Wellington chose to observe Napoleon’s final advance. In 1818, it became known that the farmer on whose cornfield it stood intended to cut it down. John Children, a librarian at the British Museum, was visiting Waterloo. He purchased the tree and had it shipped to London.
Children decided to have a special commemorative item made from it. He commissioned Thomas Chippendale the Younger to make an elaborate chair from some of its wood as a gift for the Prince Regent. The chair was delivered to Carlton House in 1821.
Its top rail panel is a carving of the village of Waterloo done after Thomas Sutherland’s 1816 engraving. The cresting on its back is taken from a military trophy, and the half shell in the centre is an oval plaque with a dedicatory inscription. On the lower part of the back is another inscription in Latin that was supplied by the Marquess of Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington’s elder brother.
Children had another chair made for his personal use. In 1837, on the 22nd anniversary of the battle, he presented it to the Duke of Wellington. He also gave some of the wood to the Duke of Rutland, who also used it to make a chair.
Additional wood from the tree was used to create several pieces of furniture for the Children family and others. Wellington College has a wine cooler in its collection that was carved from some of this remaining supply.
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This object is in the collection of Windsor Castle