Among the most popular posts (in terms of hits received) on this blog is the one describing mid-19th century tourism to the Waterloo Battlefield.
An early visitor to Waterloo was a youthful William Gladstone, a mere seventeen years after the conflict. Gladstone had recently graduated from Oxford when he undertook a 'Grand Tour' of Europe early in 1832.
He travelled with his brother, John, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, visiting Brussels and Waterloo in February 1832. They were shown the spot where Lord Uxbridge's (later Marquis of Anglesey) leg had been buried after it had been blown off by a cannon ball towards the end of the battle. It is said his Lordship's boot was also exhibited and the two artefacts had become one of the first 'battlefield shrines'
From Waterloo the two brothers continued to Paris, where William, who at this point in his life had some inclination to enter the Church, was horrified to find the shops busily trading on Sundays. His tour continued to Rome and Naples with the brothers returning to England in the early autumn.
It was in Torquay in the autumn of 1832 that Gladstone was persuaded to take up the offer of support for his parliamentary candidacy for the seat of Newark. Gladstone had been at Eton with Lord Lincoln, son of the Duke of Newcastle, who backed young William as one of the two Tory candidates in the election of December 1832.
He was of course elected and took his seat, his conversion to Liberalism was still more than two decades away.