The Marquess of Anglesey’s revolutionary wooden leg, one of the National Trust’s finest treasures

We're taking a look at nine of the greatest objects on display in the National Trust's properties across Britain — today, it's a prosthetic breakthrough in Anglesey.

The National Trust’s collections are not only vast, but contain objects of astonishing beauty, quality and human interest. To coincide with the Trust’s 125 anniversary, we asked nine senior curators — including national experts in painting and sculpture, textiles, furniture and decorative arts — to choose their favourite object from among those in their care.

The first articulated wooden leg, limewood and leather, at Plas Newydd, Anglesey

Chosen by Katie Knowles, assistant curator, Collections

I’m fascinated by the Anglesey Leg, which was invented for Henry Paget, Marquess of Anglesey, after he lost his leg at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Prosthetic legs of the time could be stiff, heavy and clumsy, so Paget turned to London limb-maker James Potts for an alternative.

Potts created this — the world’s first articulated wooden leg with moveable joints at the knee, ankle and toe — giving Paget and other amputees greater freedom to walk, ride and dance.

Paget is said to have ordered up to four of these flexible, lifelike legs at a time. Meanwhile, his amputated leg was buried in a Waterloo garden with its own tiny tombstone.

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