Ipswich Icons: Napoleon, Waterloo and the Ipswich connection

The main entrance to the Anglesea Road, Ipswich hospital from Berners Street in the 1960s.

The main entrance to the Anglesea Road, Ipswich hospital from Berners Street in the 1960s.

We shouldn’t let this year pass without a mention of Ipswich’s connection with the Battle of Waterloo, writes John Norman of The Ipswich Society.

Anglesea Road wing 1840s

Anglesea Road wing 1840s - Credit: Archant

The connection is Henry William Paget, Marquis of Anglesey, after whom roads north of the town centre are named.

The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars which had been fought for 25 years between the French and the rest of Europe. Napoleon wanted to unite Europe into one nation (in this respect he was ahead of his time) under his dictatorship. There was a feeling that the wars were over, Napoleon had been defeated (in 1814) and exiled to Corsica, the island where he was born, 45 years earlier. However in March 1815 he escaped exile and returned to Paris, the French Army rallied to his call and he resumed his campaign.

Once his escape was noticed (and four days before he reached Paris) the United Kingdom, Austria, Russia and Prussia joined forces and mobilised armies in readiness for the expected conflict. By June Napoleon had raised an army of 300,000 men of whom 74,000 were in Belgium. At Waterloo Britain and her Allies were outnumbered with a combined force of 67,000 although the Prussian Army were on their way to add to this number.

The Allies were led by the Duke of Wellington, ably assisted by The Earl of Uxbridge, Henry William Paget, who was to become the Marquis of Anglesey after the battle. Unfortunately in what was probably the last cannon shot of the battle Paget was hit in the knee leading to the amputation of his leg later in the day.

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According to anecdote, he was close to Wellington when his leg was hit, and exclaimed, “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” — to which Wellington replied, “By God, sir, so you have!”

Paget was created Marquess of Anglesey on July 4, 1815, a column was erected close to his country seat Plas Newydd just outside Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogo-goch on the Isles of Anglesey, and a statue placed on the top after his death in 1860. The column, 27m tall, is similar to Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square (51m tall), the difference being that it is possible to climb the 115 stairs inside the Anglesey column.

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The Ipswich connection is through Charles Fonnereau who (in 1850) was living at Christchurch Mansion and selling off plots of land for housing. He proposed the widening of Peddars Lane ‘making a good wide road from Norwich Road past the front of the Hospital to Globe Lane’. When the work was carried out Peddars Lane was renamed Anglesea Road and the new streets built to the north included Paget Road and Broughton Road (Samuel Daniel Broughton 1787–1837) was an English army surgeon at Waterloo). Globe Lane, at the eastern end of Anglesea Road became St George’s Street.

Peddars Lane ran through the barracks separating the Cavalry (Artillery Barracks) from the East Suffolk Regiment (Militia Depot). The Cavalry Barracks were built in 1795 and situated between St Matthew’s Street (Barrack Corner) and Anglesea Road.

The Suffolk Regiment occupied buildings north of Anglesea Road, where Ipswich School’s Preparatory School is now located.

Henry William Paget’s son, General Lord George Augustus Frederick Paget, led the 4th Light Dragoons in the Charge of Light Brigade at Balaclava (1854), and became inspector-general of the cavalry in 1871. In this role he visited Ipswich Barracks, by this time occupied by the Royal Horse Artillery.

I’ll leave you to work out when Wellington Street and Waterloo Road were built.

•n Anglesea is the former spelling of the island off the north Wales coast, now spelt Anglesey. The original spelling occurs on maps and documents until the late 18th Century. Peddars Lane was renamed Anglesea Road in June 1850, but why the mis-spelling?

See more from Ipswich Icons here

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