Photo: the first Duke of Wellington in all his pomp. © English Heritage.
English Heritage is set to take over the management of Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s London home.
Previously cared for by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the house has been home to the Dukes of Wellington since 1817.
Following an open competition, responsibility for the building and its contents will be passed to English Heritage from April 1 2004.
"Apsley House is a superb house in its own right, and a glorious part of our national heritage," said Tessa Jowell.
"It contains a wonderful collection, including major paintings, porcelain, silver and Wellington memorabilia. I am extremely grateful to the V&A who have cared for this collection and presented it so admirably for over 50 years."
Designed and built by Robert Adam between 1771 and 1778, Apsley House was bought by the first and perhaps most famous Duke of Wellington in 1817.
Due to its prominent location as the first house encountered after passing throught the tollgate into London from the villages of Knightsbridge and Kensington, the house was given the prestigious address No 1 London.
Photo: English Heritage already has responsibility for another of Wellington's former homes, Walmer Castle in Kent. © Philip Toscano/Kent News & Pictures.
In 1947, under the terms of the Wellington Museum Act, the house and its contents were given to the nation by the seventh Duke of Wellington. Since then the V&A has been responsible for its administration and the Government responsible for the building.
"We are now bringing together the care of both the collection and the building in the hands of English Heritage," added the Culture Secretary.
"I hope that the new arrangements will lead to an ever improving experience for the thousands of visitors who come to the House every year."
A popular landmark, Apsley House attracted nearly 65,000 visitors last year and was named Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in both 2001 and 2003.
Welcoming the decision to hand over responsibility for the management of the house to English Heritage, Chief Executive Dr Simon Thurley said:
"We look forward to working in partnership with the Wellesley family so that the history and the significance of Apsley House and its contents can be understood and enjoyed by many more people,."
"The 1st Duke of Wellington played an immensely important role in the nation's history and Apsley House provides visitors with the opportunity to appreciate this."