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The Duke of Wellington

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), was born  in Dublin to the Earl and Countess of Mornington.  Ironically, he  had no desire for a military career but, following his mother’s  wishes, he joined a Highland regiment. He fought at Flanders in  1794, and directed the campaign in India in 1796, where his  elder brother was Governor General. He was knighted for his  efforts and returned to England in 1805.   In 1806 he was elected Member of Parliament for Rye. He  continued with his military career despite his parliamentary  duties, fighting campaigns in Portugal and France, and being  made commander of the British Army in the Peninsular War. He  was given the title Duke of Wellington in 1814, and went on to  command his most celebrated campaigns in the Napoleonic  Wars, with final victory at Waterloo in 1815. When he returned to Britain he was treated as a hero, formally  honoured, and presented with both an estate in Hampshire and  a fortune of £400,000. The Duke was Prime Minister from 1828  to 1830 and he became Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and  Constable of Dover Castle in January 1829.   The Duke was never ceremonially installed as Lord Warden but  on 30 August 1839 a banquet took place in his honour. The  banquet was held in a specially built pavilion opposite the  Maison Dieu. The building cost £1,200, it covered an area of  20,420 square feet, 20,000 cubic feet of timber was used in its  construction, 100 men were employed for 60 days building it  and it contained seating for 2,250 people. As the South Eastern Railway’s line from Folkestone approached  Dover, it had to cut through Shakespeare Cliff. The tunnel was  cut in the form of two Gothic arches, the two tunnels being  divided by a wall of chalk 10 feet thick. The Duke visited the  site on 1 November 1843, and walked through the whole length  of the new tunnel, three-quarters of a mile. The Duke interested himself in the affairs of Dover Harbour  and, as Lord Warden, was Chairman of the Harbour  Commissioners. During the Duke’s time much work was carried  out to improve the harbour, enlarging the tidal harbour and  building new quays on the inner harbour. In 1846 a swing  bridge and gates were provided to give direct access to the  Pent (now called the Wellington Dock) from the tidal harbour.  On 13 November 1846, the Wellington Bridge was opened by  the Duke himself, who drove over it in his carriage , while the  guns of the Drop Redoubt fired a salute. The Duke’s last public engagement was in Dover, and again  related to harbour improvements. On Saturday, 11 September  1852 he rode on horseback to look at the construction work on  the new Admiralty Pier. He was taken ill the following Tuesday  and died that afternoon.
The Duke of Wellington. Wellington at the Admiralty Pier.  The Duke carrying out his last public engagement at the new Admiralty Pier, September 1852. The Wellington Banquet Pavilion, 1839.