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Wednesday, July 30, 2014


L’hôtel de Charost, the British Embassy in Paris, 
39  rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

In August, 1814, after the first defeat of Napoleon and his exile to Elba, the Duke of Wellington purchased l’hôtel de Charost to be the British Embassy in Paris. Before that, representatives of the British crown had used various rented facilities.  This year, the Embassy celebrates 200 years at the site, scene of numerous receptions, dinners, and other official events through the years of peace and friendship between France and Great Britain.

Canova: Pauline Borghese, the Borghese Palace, Rome

The building was purchased from Napoleon's sister, Pauline Buonaparte Borghese, wife of Camillo Borghese, 6th Prince of Sulmona. A replica of the renowned sculpture stands in the British Embassy.  Pauline (1780-1825) was beautiful, charming, and unscrupulous.  She was first married to one of Napoleon's generals, and after his death, to Prince Borghese.  For more about Pauline, go to Elizabeth Kerri Mahon's blog here.

The Replica
Mr. Quintin Crawford, a British resident in Paris, assisted in the purchase, according to the 1983 book by Raymond A. Jones, The British Diplomatic Service 1815-1914. Crawford (1748-1814) was born in Scotland; he was a businessman, collector, author and translator.

This year the British Embassy in Paris is celebrating its purchase by the newly appointed Ambassador in 1814, the 1st Duke of Wellington.

Like so many Paris buildings, inside the rather forbidding street entrance (top picture) there is a lovely courtyard and the handsome formal entrance.

The Queen arrives on her recent State Visit to France

Interior Façade
The building was erected in 1722-25, designed by architect Antoine Mazin, (c1679-1725). The first owner was the duc de Charost.  In 1803, Pauline, the sister of Napoleon and later Princess Borghese, purchased the house.  She was known to hold popular salons, almost subsidiary courts, there.

Entrance Hall

The Queen signs in, 2014!

She is well guarded
The Bleu Salon

The Red Room
Note the portrait of the aged Duke of Wellington on the wall

Salon Pauline

A 2012 Reception at the Embassy

The Garden reaches almost to the Champs Élysées;
it is often the scene of receptions

The Queen among the roses

Two views of the Dining Salon, above and below.

Impressive chandeliers, above and below.

Happy 200th Birthday, British Embassy in Paris!
Well done, Ambassador Wellington.

Monday, July 28, 2014


In 1850, the Duke of Wellington replied to a letter written to him by Lady Salisbury inquiring as to how best she and Lord Salisbury should deal with those who applied to them with requests to see their home, Hatfield House. In other words, how best to deal with 19th century tourists. The Duke answered her thusly:

London, July 27, 1850

  " . . . . . I permit my servants to show the House and Place to whom they please and as they please. But I avoid to give an order that anything should be shown to anybody. I enclose the Lithograph answer sent to every application. You will find some regulation of the same description very convenient to yourself and Lord Salisbury. . . . . . "

Copy of Lithograph

   Field Marshal The Duke of Wellington presents his 
compliments. He is not in the habit of giving orders 
to his Servants to show his House or its contents to 
Gentlemen with whom he is not acquainted. They 
are responsible for the good, cleanly and safe 
keeping thereof, and they must form their own 
judgment as to whom they will admit to see it, taking 
care always that those whom they may admit do 
not interfere with the convenient occupation of their 
apartments by his son, his daughter-in-law and himself. 

Unfortunately, the Duke was also plagued with requests from tourists at Walmer Castle, as the following letter to Lady Salisbury the following September illustrates -

Walmer, September 19, 1850

     ". . . . . You are amused by the applications made to me. I have had a most curious one from one of the young ladies who were in the habit, as children, of coming to my Garden Gate in Hyde Park. This young lady is now with some friends a Broadstairs! and she insists upon my sending her an order that the interior of Walmer Castle should be shewn to her and her friends during the time that I am residing there; at which time, she has heard that the interior of the Castle is not usually shewn.
    I have told her that my Predecessor in the office of Lord Warden had fitted up part of this Castle as a residence for the Lard Wardens, which I now occupy! that I have one room in this Residence, in which I sleep, dress and write all day! that the remainder of the House is occupied by my daughters-in-law and their Children or by other visitors, male or female! That I permitted the Servants to shew to whom they pleased, excepting when inhabited. But at such periods only when not inconvenient to the inhabitants. I added that I believed that I was the only individual in England who would be required by anybody to make a shew of his Bed Room and Dressing Room; and that I doubted much whether my daughters-in-law, or their Children, or any Ladies or Gentlemen, inhabitants of Rooms in this Residence, would much like the proposition that their Rooms should be made a shew of while they should inhabit them. I have received no answer."

One can only imagine what the Duke would think about a group of tourists arranging visits to Apsley House, Walmer Castle and Stratfield Saye or about their titling their journey The Duke of Wellington Tour!