Wellington Monument will be floodlit tonight for the first time in over a decade to commemorate exactly 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo. The National Trust are organising the lights and plan to use them again in future.
Philip Collins, National Trust General Manager for the site, explains why the Trust wants to light up the monument now: ‘We had to fence off the tower several years ago because of falling debris. Whilst we’re making real headway in our work to explore repair options, it wouldn’t be safe to let people inside the monument but we really wanted to do something to mark the bicentenary. Local people have asked several times whether we could light the monument again and so we thought remembering the very event that led to the monument being built and it being such a significant anniversary in British history was the perfect moment to see if it would be feasible.
‘Now that we have the lights in place, we hope to use them on other special occasions but won’t use them regularly for a range of environmental reasons.’
The Wellington Monument, on the top of the Blackdown Hills, was built as a tribute to the Duke’s success and is the tallest three-sided obelisk in the world. It is known the Duke visited Wellington town just once but never visited the monument site itself. The building was funded through public subscription with the foundation stone being laid in 1817. Work paused when the money ran out and the Duke of Wellington fell out of public favour. His death brought a renewed determination to complete the monument and the final stone was laid in 1853 after a protracted building period of more than three decades.
The monument will be lit on the evening of Thursday 18 June and throughout the night from around 10.00pm. This is about the same time some historians argue Wellington met the Prussian commander, Field Marshall Blucher at Genappe, an event that signified the end of the Battle.
The monument should be visible from windows and to all those driving past.