Garden Writer John Claudius Loudon and the Infamous Mixup between the Duke of Wellington’s BREECHES and BEECHES

"Loudon's note was hard to read, and the Duke misinterpreted a few things....
Thus, he thought the Bishop of London wanted to inspect his pants."

April 8, 1783

On this day, the English garden writer John Claudius Loudon was born.

In honor of his birthday, here is the famous story of The Waterloo Beeches.


One day, John wrote his friend, the Duke of Wellington, to ask if he could see the Waterloo Beeches.

The Waterloo Beeches were beautiful Beech trees that had been planted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.


Unfortunately, John's note was hard to read, so the Duke misinterpreted a few things:

First, he thought the note was from C.J. London (the Bishop of London) - not J.C. Loudon (John Claudius Loudon).

Second, he misread "beeches" as "BREECHES." Thus, he thought the Bishop of London wanted to inspect his pants.


The Duke wrote the Bishop back, saying:

My dear Bishop of London,

It will always give me great pleasure to see you at Strathfieldsaye.

Pray come there whenever it suits your convenience, whether I am at home or not.

My servant will receive orders to show you so many pairs of breeches of mine as you wish; but why you should wish to inspect those that I wore at the battle of Waterloo is quite beyond the comprehension of yours.

Most truly,



When Wellington's note reached the Bishop of London, he, too, was perplexed.

He showed the message to many of his peers, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempting to make sense of Wellington's words.

Baffled, they wondered if the great Duke of Wellington had lost his mind.


After the whole matter was straightened out, the incident became known as The Story of the Waterloo Beeches - or Breeches.

And to think it all started with John Claudius Loudon and his desire to see the Duke of Wellington's Beech trees.


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