The Objects

12th Jun 1815

Wellington's boots.jpg
Source: Copyright: ENGLISH HERITAGE 2013. Photographer: Mark Bennett

Wellington's Boots

Contributed by: Marguerite Hughes

The correspondence between the Duke of Wellington and Lord Lynedoch in June vividly depicts the Duke’s confidence and decisive attitude as the inevitable clash of armies approached. On 13th June 1815, he wrote:

‘There is nothing new here. We have reports of Bonaparte’s joining the army and attacking us; but I have accounts from Paris of the 10th, on which day he was still there; and I judge from his speech to the Legislature that his departure was not likely to be immediate. I think we are now too strong for him here.’ (See Antony Brett-James, Wellington At War 1794-1815: A selection of his wartime letters. (London: Macmillan & Co LTD, 1961), p.307).

In fact, Napoleon had left Paris on 12th June and the decisive period of fighting would begin sooner than Wellington had expected. Nevertheless, his assessment of the relative strengths of the armies was borne out.

Today Wellington is remembered not just for his involvement in Waterloo but also for a new style of boot that would take his name: the Wellington. Wellington had asked his shoemaker to adapt the standard hessian-style boot by cutting the tassel and lowering the heel to make them a more comfortable fit. The epic victory at Waterloo in 1815 marked Wellington as fashion pioneer and the wellington was adopted thereafter as a fashion trend.