A modern-day fortress
Portrait of the Duke of Wellington © Courtesy of the Trustees of the Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust
The Duke of Wellington, one of Britain’s greatest military leaders, became the Constable of the Tower in 1826. He still was Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and became Prime Minister twice while serving as Constable at the Tower.
Besides draining the filthy moat, where possible Wellington adapted the fortress for modern warfare and a more professional army. He closed the Tower pubs in favour of an army canteen, built purpose-built barracks for 1,000 soldiers and a new officers’ mess. He demanded the closure of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower and the removal of all the animals following a series of vicious attacks. Under his command, the number of visitors soared, despite his reservations about public access to a military site.
Wellington dealt with the aftermath of a major fire at the Tower in 1841 and strengthened the ancient fortress at a time of civil unrest, when the government feared that rioting and revolution would spread to London.
Find out more about Wellington’s Tower on the North Wall Walk.