The ever memorable Battle of Waterloo

In the month that witnesses the 200th anniversary of the British victory at Waterloo, it seems appropriate to mention two memorials in St George’s Chapel which commemorate the bravery of officers who took part in the famous battle.

Lt-Gen Sir John Elley, who survived the battle despite being severely wounded, went on to serve as Member of Parliament for Windsor from 1835. On his death in 1839 he was buried in St George’s Chapel, near the south door. Although his burial place is unmarked, a white marble bust was subsequently erected to him in the North Quire Aisle. It sits on a large white marble block engraved with a fulsome inscription written by the Revd William Cookesley of Eton College. This includes a reference to Elley’s participation in ‘the crowning and magnificent triumph of British valour’: the Battle of Waterloo.

Inscription: ‘Erected to the memory of Lieut-General Sir John Elley KCB, KGH, Colonel of Her Majesty’s 17th Regiment of Lancers, Governor of the Garrison of Galway; who was born AD 1764, died January 23rd 1839 and is buried in the Chapel……

Throughout the Peninsular War he was the companion in arms of the Duke of Wellington. To enumerate the various occasions on which he displayed conspicuous skill and bravery, would be to enumerate the several battles which have thrown an imperishable glory around that tremendous contest. In 1815 he fought and was severely wounded at Waterloo. In that crowning and magnificent triumph of British valour he added lustre to his former achievements; and his name is lastingly written in the records of that famous day which gave peace to the nations of the civilized world’.

Major Robert Christopher Packe, whose memorial may be found in the Ambulatory to the left of the door into the Dean’s Cloister, was killed at the Battle of Waterloo. Although he was not buried in St George’s Chapel his regiment, which was stationed in Windsor at the time, erected a memorial to him in the Chapel, which features the white marble figures of the fallen Major Packe and his horse, mourned over by a regimental companion, on a grey marble background. Originally in the Rutland Chapel (permission to erect it there was recorded in a Chapter Act of 16 April 1817), it was moved to present position c.1935.

Inscription: ‘To the memory of Major Robert Christopher Packe, second son of Charles James Packe esquire of Prestwold, Leicestershire, and Major in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards Blue, who was killed at the head of his squadron when charging the French Cuirassiers at the ever memorable Battle of Waterloo on the 18th of June 1815 in the XXXIIId year of his age. This monument is erected by the officers of the regiment in which he had served more than fifteen years, in testimony of their high veneration for his distinguished military merit and of their sincere regret for the loss of a companion so long endeared to their affections by his amiable manner and private vertues’

Although these memorials were not paid for by the Dean and Canons, it is interesting to note that at a Chapter meeting on 25 July 1815, they agreed that ‘the sum of one hundred guineas be subscribed for the relief of the families of the brave men killed and of the wounded sufferers of the British Army under command of the illustrious Wellington in the signal victory of Waterloo and in other battles of the present Campaign’.

Clare Rider, Archivist and Chapter Librarian

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.