Napoleon on St Helena
Napoleon Series, Part 2 of 3 - St Helena
Napoleon arrived on St Helena 17th October 1815. This was his 2nd exile after escaping from Elba in February of the same year. The British were taking no more chances. - he was sent to one of the most isolated islands in the world in the South Atlantic Ocean - St Helena Island became the final chapter in Napoleon's life.
Growing up on St Helena, we were briefly taught the history of Napoleon & looked forward to the field-trip visits to the Briars Pavillion, Longwood House & The Tomb (known as the Napoleonic Properties). We were also taught songs about him, with one song in particular being etched into my mind called 'HMS Northumberland' which tells of his arrival to St Helena on-board this ship after a very long & exhausting journey- but it hasn't been until my later years that I've really taken an interest in this part of St Helena's history which goes beyond Longwood House.
If you haven't read it, I would recommend the booklet 'In Napoleon's Footsteps on Saint Helena-the places of exile today' which tells you of the many places on St Helena that are connected with Napoleon. I read with fascination of the restrictions imposed on Napoleon during his exile whereby he was only allowed a 12-mile perimeter without having to be accompanied by a British Officer. As well as the 'Nymph of the Valley; whom Napoleon used to visit for reasons unknown.
There are other books that I would recommend written by Michel Dancoisne-Martineau which you can find on his blog HERE
Pic: Ed Thorpe
Napoleon's most famous place of residence on the island was Longwood House (see above) in which he was said to dictate his famous memoirs & spent his last 6 years before dying on 5th May 1821. This House along with the other Napoleonic proprieties mentioned earlier are owned by the French Consul are very well maintained.
Longwood House is a popular walk-through museum & is a must-see for most tourists who visit the island. However, twice a year the House is also open to the St Helenian public for free so that islanders can appreciate the existence of the famous Napoleon who has managed to put St Helena on the map... where we would otherwise have been left unknown.
Pic: St Helena tourism
The Tomb in which Napoleon was first buried in 1821 is situated in Sane Valley (which was chosen by Napoleon himself). It is one of my favourite places on this island as it is surrounded by nature and tranquillity. There is also an annual ceremony performed at the tomb on 5th May to commemorate the death of Napoleon on 5th May.
But he no longer rests there as in 1840 his remains were exhumed and taken back to Paris where it now rests in Les Invalides - see my previous post in which I reflect on my visit there last year.
It's hard not to be fascinated with the dark history of Napoleon - this is a part of our history that has really put St Helena on the map. We are currently celebrating the Bicentenary which started in 2015 and will end in 2021 - marking 200 years since Napoleon was exiled and died on St Helena.
This is a 3-part series for the month of October, watch this space coming at the end of October for the final part in the series: G-Unique jewellery inspired by Napoleon.