Duke of Wellington's 400-piece gilt dinner set laid out for first time

Hannah Furness
Wellington's dining service is to go on show in Apsley House as it was intended to be used - Geoff Pugh Photography Ltd Telegraph Media Group Ltd

A spectacular dining set given to the Duke of Wellington to celebrate his victory over Napoleon is to go on on display for the first time as it would have been used, laid out in full 200 years on.

For the first time visitors to Apsley House, Wellington's London home, will be able to see part of the collection of 400 gilded pieces set out on the dining room table in the Waterloo Gallery.

The new display marks the 200th anniversary of the commissioning of the dinner service in 1817 by King Frederick William III of Prussia as a gift to honour the Duke of Wellington after his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Each commemorates a place or event connected to Wellington's life Credit: Geoff Pugh

Some of the 400 pieces of the original set, which took two years to make and is recognised as one of the finest made by the Berlin Porcelain Factory, will be laid out on the table.

They include 34 dessert plates, each chronologically depicting a place or event connected to the Duke's life, beginning with his birthplace of Dublin, through to battles in India, the Peninsular Wars, Waterloo and the opening of Waterloo Bridge.

Fruit baskets, wine coolers, ice-cream pails, vases, soup tureens, candelabra and decorative statues will also be on display in the opulent surroundings of the Waterloo Gallery, a room created to host the Duke's annual Waterloo Banquet.

They will be displayed in the Waterloo Gallery Credit: Geoff Pugh

The banquet was an event held to celebrate the final victory over Napoleon with the king and selected guests.

Josephine Oxley, English Heritage curator, said: "To display the magnificent Prussian dinner service for the first time as it would have been used by the 1st Duke of Wellington is a great privilege.

"These rich and fascinating items tell the remarkable story of a man who made a great impact on the history of Europe and the service exists as the ultimate display of respect and gratitude.

The pieces were commissioned in 1817 by King Frederick William III of Prussia Credit: Geoff Pugh

"The 200th anniversary of its commission is the perfect time to share these historic mementos with the public and transform Apsley from a house to a home."

Visitors will be able to see the dinner service laid out in the Waterloo Gallery at the house, which stands on the corner of Hyde Park and was once known as Number One London, from Saturday April 1.