When the 1st Duke of Wellington returned home a hero from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 a grateful nation granted him £600,000 to provide him with a country house.
Wellington purchased the estate at Stratfield for the parkland and intended to build a new house in the north-east corner. However, the cost of his plan to build a magnificent palace to outshine Blenheim would not be covered by joint funds of the national gift and his personal wealth. He decided instead to modernise the existing house on the estate.
The house, built of mellow gold stonework, was constructed in around 1630. The later additions including the two outer wings and conservatory were blended in carefully with the original building.
The Duke installed modern plumbing and central heating which was considered the height of luxury. When Queen Victoria visited the house she complained that it was too hot.
The Hall has a display of items relating to the Duke's triumphs.
These include busts of Wellington and Napoleon and paintings detailing the events at Waterloo and the Peninsular War.
The Music Room is dedicated to the memory of Wellington's favourite charger, Copenhagen, who carried him at Waterloo. There is a bronze of the Duke riding Copenhagen and several paintings of the horse.
The Library has been left largely as it was in Wellington's time.
Other rooms in the house include the Drawing Room decorated in green and gold with Chippendale mirrors and gilded plasterwork and the Small Drawing Room which has French wallpaper and a display miniatures, paintings and drawings.
The house is still the home of the present Duke and Duchess of Wellington.
The stable block houses The Wellington Exhibition.
This includes the magnificent 18 ton funeral carriage which was pulled by 12 dray horses. In the Ice House paddock is the grave of Copenhagen marked by a headstone and a turkey oak that has grown from an acorn planted when the horse was buried. Also in the grounds are the American Gardens.