Good old Broadstairs’: so Mr Pooter called it and, even now, it’s difficult to survey the esplanade and bandstand without an image of him, promenading in his straw helmet, appearing at the back of the retina. But after attending a Hungry for History event at Wellesley House, the last of what was once a plethora of prep schools in this healthful location, I know that it had other visitors, too.
Maj the Hon Henry Percy landed here, with a chaise and four, after the Battle of Waterloo. With him were two captured French standards and the Duke of Wellington’s dispatch. At Broadstairs, Percy paused sufficiently to freshen up: his clothes were still those in which he had danced at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball several days earlier. The house at which these ablutions were performed became known, from the standards, as Eagle House, replaced by flats. He then raced on to London.
Percy’s journey will be re-enacted next year as part of the Waterloo 2015 celebrations. Nine years ago, the bicentenary of Trafalgar was something of a Euro fudge; Hungry for History, a campaign for children to love history, wants it to be rather more vividly presented to young imaginations. After all, Napoleon wanted to create a Europe-wide empire, ruled despotically-quite unlike anything for whose representatives we’ll be voting on Thursday.
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