London's Wellington Arch reopens as art exhibition space

The historic Wellington Arch on London's Hyde Park Corner is to reopen later as the capital's newest exhibition space.

The Quadriga Gallery will host exhibitions exploring the heritage of England, from the story of Stonehenge to the influence of Egyptian culture.

The arch will also house a new permanent exhibition telling the history of the famous London landmark.

It was closed to the public for renovation in December 2011.

Wellington Arch was built in 1828 as a grand outer gateway to Buckingham Palace and as a victory arch to commemorate the Duke of Wellington's defeat of Napoleon.

But Victorian traffic jams meant that in 1883 the arch was dismantled and moved some 20 metres (65ft) to its current location.

Four-horsed chariot

It later operated as London's smallest police station until the 1950s.

Set on the top two floors of the arch, the Quadriga Gallery is named after the enormous bronze sculpture - the largest in Europe - of the Angel of Peace and her four-horsed chariot which crowns the monument.

Visitors will be able to step out on to the balconies on top of the arch to enjoy views of the capital, including the Royal Parks and the Houses of Parliament.

English Heritage chief Simon Thurley said: "We are very excited to be able to present a series of topical exhibitions right in the heart of London.

"We hope that the new gallery will become a popular venue for people interested in England's history and heritage."

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