Coldstream Guards - Colonel Wyndham's Silver Hunting Horn, 1834
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Length: 31cm (12.5in)
A silver hunting horn of unconventional length, engraved with the armorial crest of the Wyndham family (a lion’s head within a fetterlock) and inscribed ‘HENRY WYNDHAM / PETWORTH’. Makers’ mark of Charles Reilly and George Storer. Hallmarked London 1834.
General Sir Henry Wyndham, M.P. (1790-1860) is noted as one of the defenders of the Chateau d’Hougomont at the Battle of Waterloo. He took part in the famous closing of the North Gate - an act which won Wellington’s praise, but so disturbed Wyndham that he never again closed a door, preferring to sit in a room in a howling draught. Moreover Wyndham was severely wounded during the fighting. His life was saved by the celebrated Corporal James Graham of the Coldstream (1791–1845), who was responsible for slotting the bar home after the North Gate was shut.
As the natural son of the 3rd Earl of Egremont (aka the ‘lustful lord who fathered 43 children by nine mistresses), Wyndham lived at Petworth House, West Sussex, where with his father’s sanction he was Master of Foxhounds and hunted the Petworth country until ordered to join his then regiment, the 10th Light Dragoons, in Spain in 1811. After the Waterloo campaign he resumed with Lord Egremont’s approval as Master while his brother Colonel George Wyndham, who was the legitimate heir to Petworth, preferred to hunt the Goodwood country. All continued peaceably until Lord Egremont’s death in 1837, when Colonel George asserted his rights over his many siblings and demanded to hunt Petworth country as the new owner of Petworth. The hunting fraternity from far and wide sided with Henry who was generally deemed to have established as fine a pack as ever drew covert and was personally deemed to be courteous to a fault. In 1839, with all hope or reconciliation at an end, Henry moved to hunt a country in the north.
In 1815 Henry held the double rank of Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel in the Coldstream Guards. On the night of 15 June 1815 he was present at the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball in Brussels where Wellington received news of Napoleon’s advance – ‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God; he has gained twenty-four hours' march on me…’. The morning of the 18th found Wyndham in command of the Coldstream’s light company occupying the Chateau d’Hougomont farm complex on the right flank of the allied position at Waterloo - Napoleon having resolved to assault Hougomont repeatedly in the hope of drawing in Wellington’s reserves to stiffen the defence, whilst making his main attack through the allied centre left near La Haye Sainte.
After the repulse of the first attack by British gunners and the onset of an artillery duel between the opposing sides, the French 6th Division made a prolonged assault on the farm placing Henry Wyndham at the centre of one of the most celebrated incidents in the Battle of Waterloo. After the French failed to exploit a small breach in the south wall, Sous-Lieutenant Legros, wielding an axe, managed to break through the north gate. A desperate fight ensued between the invading French soldiers and the defending Coldstream, whereupon a French Grenadier standing on the shoulders of a comrade outside, leaned over the wall and took aim at Wyndham. Wyndham saw him, and handed a musket to Corporal James Graham beside him. Graham fired at the same time as the Grenadier, but it was the Frenchman who fell dead with a musket ball in his brain. In the meantime Legros and about thirty other Frenchmen had fought their way in. Then in a near-miraculous counter-attack, a small party led by Lieutenant–Colonels Macdonell and Wyndham, Ensigns Hervey and Gooch, and Corporal Graham fought through the melee to shut the gate, trapping Legros and his comrades inside. In the ensuing struggle all of the French who entered, apart from a drummer boy, were killed in a desperate hand-to-hand fight. Thereafter French assaults on the farm continued throughout the day, with Napoleon personally ordering it to be shelled, causing fire to break out. In the end the defence of the farm cost the Coldstream eight officers and three hundred other ranks. It was to remain Wellington’s view that ‘the success of the battle turned upon the closing of the gates at Hougoumont’.
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