June 18, 2024

British anniversaries good cause for a cruise in 2015

Churchill waves the victory sign outside No. 10 Downing Street during the war years.

No one beats the English at celebrating a country’s heritage, and the year 2015 marks several important dates in England’s long and storied history. These include the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede (a Thames water meadow outside London) and the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death. This great statesman will be commemorated at three locations – his ancestral home of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, his family home of Chartwell in Kent, and the Churchill War Rooms in London.

Wellington’s Arch is located between Hyde Park and Green Park and close to Buckingham Palace.

2015 also marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, at which the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon. Wellington’s success as a military leader was not repeated in the field of politics where, as prime minister, his unpopular opposition to parliamentary reform provoked anger among the public. Fearing demonstrators would smash the windows of his London home, Apsley House, he put up iron shutters and was nicknamed the Iron Duke.

A Regency-style mansion that stands alone at famous Hyde Park corner, Apsley House is now a museum containing one of the finest art collections in London. It faces the busy traffic roundabout encircling Wellington Arch, which is a prominent London landmark. This victory arch, built to commemorate Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon, is crowned with a spectacular bronze sculpture depicting the Angel of Peace descending on the Quadriga (four-horsed chariot) of War. Until 1992, this hollow arch housed a small police station, but is now a museum. Visitors can enjoy sweeping views of London’s Royal Parks from the balconies positioned below the bronze sculpture, including a bird’s eye look at the Household Cavalry when heading to or from the Changing of the Guard.

The Duke of Wellington died at Walmer Castle on the Kentish coast, not far from the cruise port of Dover. Built during the reign of Henry VIII and now maintained by English Heritage, the castle will host a new exhibit in 2015 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Regular displays include the armchair in which the Duke died and an original pair of ‘Wellington’ boots – called ‘wellies’ by the English.

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.