Two Hundred Years Ago Today: The Lakers celebrate victory at Waterloo (and Wordsworth almost messes it up)

By Matthew Sangster


(This is part of a new series of On This Day posts edited by Anna Mercer. If you’re interested in contributing to the series, please contact her on

Skiddaw, engraved by William Miller after J.M.W. Turner (1833).

On the 22nd of August 1815, Robert Southey sent the following passage to his friend Grosvenor Bedford for insertion in the Courier:

On Monday the 21st of August, a bonfire was kindled on the summit of Skiddaw in honour of the Battle of Waterloo, the capture of Paris, & the surrender of Buonaparte. It is the first time that any public rejoicings had ever been held on so elevated a spot; & the effect was sublime to a degree which none can imagine but those who witnessed it. A great concourse of people were assembled; inhabitants of the country who had never performed the ascent before, going up on this occasion. {Large} Balls of tow & turpentine were set on fire & rolled down the steep {side of the} mountain. Rule Britannia, & God Save the King were sung in full chorus round the bonfire, accompanied by various wind instruments. The healths of the Prince Regent, the Duke of Wellington, & Prince …read more