King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The Duke of Wellington


Battersea Fields windmillsBattersea Fields windmillsThe Duke appeared relaxed and confident of the justice of his case and more than prepared to justify this dramatic escalation in the war of words between the supporters and detractors of Catholic emancipation.

It was, he declared, 'impossible to avoid…I had no alternative and could not have acted otherwise than I have done'.

Winchilsea also remained throughout calm and composed and resigned to the inevitability of the engagement.

Hardinge appeared busy, thorough and steely in his determination. Falmouth, however, was much more nervous, regretful and even tearful, pathetically calling out for help from his opposite number as he fumbled to load Winchilsea's pistol.

Hume, meanwhile, was left to load Wellington's pistols due to Hardinge's obvious disability.

The next task of the seconds was to mark out the field. Hardinge turned to Wellington and with the words 'have the goodness to place yourself here Duke', together with Falmouth began pacing out the twelve yards of the combat ground like belligerent cricketers measuring out an impromptu wicket.

One, possibly apocryphal, account has the Duke shout out to Hardinge, 'Damn it! Don't stick him up so near the ditch. If I hot him he will tumble in'.

Winchilsea then took up position opposite his adversary and Hardinge at the half way mark began to read a final plea for peace.

Hardinge expressed his regret at the affair and anger that Wellington's honour and personal safety was being jeopardised needlessly.

Winchilsea and Falmouth, he concluded, would be solely to blame for any bloody outcome, to which Winchilsea was heard to mutter disapprovingly, 'rather strong language'.

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