In the heart of Glasgow’s city centre is a neoclassical building that has been at different times the townhouse of a wealthy tobacco Lord (1778), a bank (1817), and a library (1954). In 1996, it became the Gallery of Modern Art. Outside, on Queen Street, there stands a 1852 bronze statue of the Duke of Wellington on his war horse Copenhagen. (Together they defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo–well, with some help.) Today the statue has become a special attraction not due to its historical significance but because an orange traffic cone is often found on the Duke’s head. Since the 1980s, “late night revelers” have been clambering up the monument to adorn its head–a tradition said to signify the city’s light-hearted humor. But these days the Glascow City Council and Police Department don’t find much funny about vandalizing one of the city’s oldest sculptures. “Anyone caught in the act will be prosecuted,” goes the warning, The 169-year-old Duke has lost his spurs and half his sword playing Abbott to three decades of scaling Costellos.
All told, there are nine Wellington Monuments in the UK and Ireland. But perhaps the tallest one, safest from late night revelers–who seem to like Wellington for his passion and his famous beef–is the Commemorative Column outside the Duke’s country house, the Manor of Stratfield Saye in Hampshire. That’s where the Duke buried his beloved Copenhagen, and where Steven Spielberg filmed the WWI movie “War Horse.”