St Helena: Napoleon Moves Into Longwood House

Cutting a solitary figure walking up Longwood Avenue, Merrill Joshua as Napoleon Bonaparte walking to his new home, Longwood House. This is part of the Napoleon on St Helena, Bicentenary celebrations, marking the event of 10 December 1815.

Cutting a solitary figure walking up Longwood Avenue, Merrill Joshua as Napoleon Bonaparte walking to his new home, Longwood House. This is part of the Napoleon on St Helena, Bicentenary celebrations, marking the event of 10 December 1815.

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD | Darrin Henry

More stressful than a divorce; that’s how moving house induces anxiety according to many, and that’s just for ordinary people. When you’re an international prisoner and one of the most famous men in history your change of residence is remembered and re-enacted 200 years later.

Bicentenary: Napoleon On St Helena

Napoleon Bonaparte’s final journey of note, while still alive, was his move from temporary residence at The Briars, St Helena to Longwood House on 10 December, 1815, which turned out to be his last residence.

Today in the district of Longwood, two hundred years later, 10 December 2015, the historic event is being quietly remembered with a small re-enactment ceremony.

Walking along the boundary wall of Longwood House toward the gate.

Walking along the boundary wall of Longwood House toward the gate.

Agapanthus lilies in the gardens at Longwood House, line the route the Saint Napoleon takes as he heads toward Longwood House. The French flag, the Tricolore hangs on the flag pole. This is Merrill Joshua playing the role of Napoleon Bonaparte, exactly 200 years from 10 December 1815 when the Frenchman was moved here from his temporary residence at the Briars.

Agapanthus lilies in the gardens at Longwood House, line the route the Saint Napoleon takes as he heads toward Longwood House. The French flag, the Tricolore hangs on the flag pole. This is Merrill Joshua playing the role of Napoleon Bonaparte, exactly 200 years from 10 December 1815 when the Frenchman was moved here from his temporary residence at the Briars.

Re-enactment of Napoleon's move on 10 December 1815 on St Helena from the Briars to his permanent residence, Longwood House. The French Emperor is portrayed by local actor, Merrill Joshua. This event is taking place on 10 December 2015, exactly 200 years after the original.

Re-enactment of Napoleon’s move on 10 December 1815 on St Helena from the Briars to his permanent residence, Longwood House. The French Emperor is portrayed by local actor, Merrill Joshua. This event is taking place on 10 December 2015, exactly 200 years after the original.

Recreating the reflective mood of Napoleon's move on 10 December 1815 from the Briars to his permanent residence, Longwood House, St Helena. The French Emperor is portrayed by local Saint actor, Merrill Joshua. This event is taking place on 10 December 2015, exactly 200 years after the original.

Recreating the reflective mood of Napoleon’s move on 10 December 1815 from the Briars to his permanent residence, Longwood House, St Helena. The French Emperor is portrayed by local Saint actor, Merrill Joshua. This event is taking place on 10 December 2015, exactly 200 years after the original.

Bicentenary re-enactment on 10 December 2015, of Napoleon Bonaparte entering Longwood House for the first time, his permanent residence on St Helena. The real Napoleon did this 200 years before today, on 10 December 1815.

Bicentenary re-enactment on 10 December 2015, of Napoleon Bonaparte entering Longwood House for the first time, his permanent residence on St Helena. The real Napoleon did this 200 years before today, on 10 December 1815.

St Helenian part-time actor, Merrill Joshua, our very own Saint Napoleon, has once again shined the buttons on his custom made replica costume and is solemnly marching along Longwood Avenue towards the House.

Bicentenary celebrations marking Napoleon’s arrival on St Helena began locally in October (2015) and the island will continue to observe key dates over the next six years, the period of the Frenchman’s exile. The big event so far was, of course, Napoleon stepping ashore, which attracted a small crowd who helped recreate the mood by lining the route from the landing steps, up and into Jamestown.

A Visit to Longwood House

Today there is no crowd of onlookers to witness this re-enactment, just representatives of the St Helena Tourism Office and various camera wielding togs from the media to document proceedings.

Through the gates of Longwood House we go with the brooding ‘Napoleon’. Agapanthus lilies line the garden pathway as he makes his way through the grounds, past the tricolore and then a pause in front of Longwood House itself before ascending the steps and going inside.

Re-enactment of Napoleon's move on St Helena in 1815, from the Briars to Longwood House, part of the Bicentenary celebrations. The French Emperor is portrayed by local Saint actor, Merrill Joshua, seen here on the porch of his new home.

Re-enactment of Napoleon’s move on St Helena in 1815, from the Briars to Longwood House, part of the Bicentenary celebrations. The French Emperor is portrayed by local Saint actor, Merrill Joshua, seen here on the porch of his new home.

Inside Longwood House for the first time, standing at the window of the billiard room where it is likely Napoleon would have looked out over the garden toward Longwood Green. This event is part of the bicentennial re-enactment of Napoleon's move on St Helena in 1815, from the Briars to Longwood House, on 10 December.

Inside Longwood House for the first time, standing at the window of the billiard room where it is likely Napoleon would have looked out over the garden toward Longwood Green. This event is part of the bicentennial re-enactment of Napoleon’s move on St Helena in 1815, from the Briars to Longwood House, on 10 December.

'Napoleon' reading in Longwood House. The scene in 1815 would have been very similar as the room has been restored as accurately as possible to that period, including custom made replica carpet and wallpaper and with authentic furniture pieces. This staged scene is all part of the Bicentenary re-enactment on 10 December 2015, of Napoleon Bonaparte arriving at Longwood House for the first time. The real Napoleon took up residence on 10 December, 1815.

‘Napoleon’ reading in Longwood House. The scene in 1815 would have been very similar as the room has been restored as accurately as possible to that period, including custom made replica carpet and wallpaper and with authentic furniture pieces. This staged scene is all part of the Bicentenary re-enactment on 10 December 2015, of Napoleon Bonaparte arriving at Longwood House for the first time. The real Napoleon took up residence on 10 December, 1815.

Re-enactment of Napoleon's move on 10 December 1815 on St Helena from the Briars to his permanent residence, Longwood House. The French Emperor is portrayed by local actor, Merrill Joshua. This event is taking place on 10 December 2015, exactly 200 years after the original.

Re-enactment of Napoleon’s move on 10 December 1815 on St Helena from the Briars to his permanent residence, Longwood House. The French Emperor is portrayed by local actor, Merrill Joshua. This event is taking place on 10 December 2015, exactly 200 years after the original.

This is a specially made replica of a bookcase that stood in Longwood House during Napoleon's time.

This is a specially made replica of a bookcase that stood in Longwood House during Napoleon’s time.

A display of photographs inside Longwood House, St Helena, showing famous visitors over the years. Although Sir Winston Churchill never visited he did send this signed photograph and letter in 1961 as a thank you for Napoleon "relics" that were sent to him. The colour framed picture is of Prince Andrew signing the visitor's book in Longwood House in 1984 and alongside this is a picture of his father, Prince Phillip, walking in Longwood House grounds.

A display of photographs inside Longwood House, St Helena, showing famous visitors over the years. Although Sir Winston Churchill never visited he did send this signed photograph and letter in 1961 as a thank you for Napoleon “relics” that were sent to him. The colour framed picture is of Prince Andrew signing the visitor’s book in Longwood House in 1984 and alongside this is a picture of his father, Prince Phillip, walking in Longwood House grounds.

Looking out. The Saint Napoleon inside Longwood House on 10 December 2015, re-enacting the 10 December 1815 arrival of Napoleon at his permanent residence on St Helena.

Looking out. The Saint Napoleon inside Longwood House on 10 December 2015, re-enacting the 10 December 1815 arrival of Napoleon at his permanent residence on St Helena.

It’s been another successful bicentenary event. All of us present understand that 200 years ago the scene would have been quite different; a British military escort would have been present in large numbers as Napoleon was after all, a high profile prisoner. Most likely there would have been the French Emperor’s entourage, housekeepers and grounds men and no doubt a sizeable crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of Longwood’s newest resident.

But today was simply about remembering the day St Helena’s most famous resident moved to Longwood, exactly 200 years ago.

2 thoughts on “St Helena: Napoleon Moves Into Longwood House

  1. Pingback: Shannon Selin Napoleon and Longwood House - Shannon Selin

  2. Il est dommage que Sa Majesté ne se souvienne plus que le Grand Cordon de la Légion d’Honneur se porte de l’épaule droite à la hanche gauche !!!

    Liked by 1 person

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