History of the building

At the heart of Waterloo, the Wellington Museum is housed within a large residence built in 1705 by a paving entrepreneur…

At the time, pavers were making Waterloo famous as they travelled throughout Europe.

In 1777, the property, situated on the highway between Charleroi and Brussels, became a coaching inn, allowing travellers to take some repast or break their journey overnight before crossing the Soignes forest.

Josse Bodenghien purchased the property from the descendants of the original owner on 20 July 1782. The large house consisted of twelve bedrooms, a laundry, a well, stables, coach house, an oven, courtyard, garden and breweries.

The residence was chosen to accommodate a number of military officers, including the Prince of Cobourg, Prince Frederick of Orange – who stayed there on 6 July 1794 – and finally Republican General Lefebvre, before the Duke of Wellington made it his headquarters on 17 and 18 June 1815.

The building served a number of purposes until the 1950s, when Waterloo municipality purchased it and, together with local enthusiasts, created the famous Wellington Museum.

Over time, the not-for-profit “Les Amis du Musée Wellington”, which manages this local museum, has acquired a number of relics from the Battle of Waterloo.

Since it opened, the museum has evolved to better satisfy the wishes of its visitors – over one million of them! – while retaining the original ambiance and character of a property which is steeped in history. In 2015, to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke’s headquarters welcomed 56,000 visitors.