After three years of preparation and planning, the Museum’s special Battle of Waterloo Bicentenary Exhibition was opened by His Grace the Duke of Wellington on 25 March. The exhibition will remain open seven days a week (except Good Friday) until 30 September.
The opening was attended by some 90 invited guests including the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, the Mayor of Winchester and the Chairman of Hampshire County Council. Among others were Patrons, Vice-Patrons, representatives of trusts and organisations, and individual donors, who had contributed to the Museum’s successful appeal for £200,000 to help pay for the cost of the exhibition. A further £100,000 towards the overall £400,000 cost was granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
On his arrival the Duke was greeted by an honour guard from the 2nd/95th Rifles Re-enactment Society wearing similar uniforms to those their predecessors wore at Waterloo, and armed with replicas of the same Baker rifles with which the 95th earned an enviable reputation for sharpshooting and marksmanship during the Peninsular War and at Waterloo.
The opening of the exhibition concluded with the unveiling of a brand new painting of ‘The Rout of the French Imperial Guard at Waterloo, 18 June 1815’ by South African-born artist, Jason Askew. The unveiling was conducted by Colonel George Smythe, President of the London Branch of The Royal Green Jackets Association, which raised the funds to pay for it.