26 intrepid members of the Association took part in the Association’s trip to Waterloo at the beginning of May. The long weekend allowed members to view the battlefield without the restrictions and crowds that were expected in June. Besides our Chairman and Lady Webb Carter the trip included attendees from all over the UK with a sizeable group from Australia- particularly the wonderful Kirkham family. The trip was organised by the John Morewood, Paul Brunyee and Roger Ansell. Friday evening involved a drinks reception at the Wellington Museum attended by representatives from the Belgian Committee and gave members the opportunity to see the wonderful exhibition comparing Napoleon and Wellington with items on display, some for the first time.
The evening meal was at the splendid Le Cote Vert. On the Saturday we followed the route of the heavy cavalry to Quatre Bras. The first stop was made at Denderhoutem the brigade headquarters of Sir William Ponsonby and also the regimental headquarters of the Scots Greys. The next stop was at Ninove which was visited by Mercer and whose Norbertine Monastery was the headquarters of Lord Uxbridge and the site of the meal after the great cavalry review at Schendelbeke attended by Blucher, Wellington and other senior officers. At Ninove members had a tour of the old town from Ann de Bruyne the Head of Tourism and Archaeology. Ann pointed out that the bulk of the monastery had been destroyed in the 19th century but that the beautiful Baroque abbey church still existed as did the gateway through which Blucher and Wellington rode as well as the Cow Gate through which Mercer rode. After a visit to the oldest pub in Ninove for some well deserved refreshment the group moved on to the site of the great cavalry review at Schendelbeke and then on to Quatre Bras, admittedly by a circuitous route as the non English speaking Belgian coach driver took us to a crossroads (“Quatre Bras”) in the south of Brussels not the battlefield!. After a visit to the proper Quatre Bras the group moved on to consider the events of the 17th June and visited Genappe looking at the cavalry actions and the Roi d’Espagne.
The evening meal was at the delightful Le Hotel 1815 on the battlefield itself. Sunday was spent in the company of the enthusiastic tour guide and author Alasdair White who knows the battlefield like the back of his hand – not least because he walks his dog over the ground. Unfortunately the weather became atmospherically inclement but noone complained as they found Alasdair’s update on the archaeological discoveries at Hougoumont fascinating. Following a change into dry clothing the group dined heartily at L’Amusoir and were joined by Alasdair and his wife. Everyone enjoyed the event and the company of their fellow travellers. In addition Robert Pocock brought us up to speed with his latest research on Mercer and Gerry Murphy on the Nassauers and his poem on Waterloo.