Saint Helena: Longwood House – Napoleon’s Last Abode
What do you do with a maniacal dictator who keeps coming back for more power? Send him to a remote island in the middle of nowhere and settle him in a remote house and wait for him to die of boredom. In 1815, the British shipped Napoleon to Saint Helena where he arrived after 10 brutal weeks of a sea journey. He was settled into Briars Pavillion initially and soon transferred to a large Longwood House standing in the middle of the island, far from other settlements, and supposedly damp, cold, and rat-infested. Longwood House was originally built in the late 18th century as a residence for the East India Company’s island governor. Here, Napoleon stayed lonely, cold, miserable, and bored. The British government imposed strict restrictions on his activities and communications, but supplied him with copious amount of wine and booze. He walked around the enormous estate, looked out toward the horizon, toiled in his garden (he did bring flowers from France), and wrote voluminous memoirs. Today, the Longwood House is one of the most important Napoleonic museums in the world – it has all the original furniture and 900 artifacts: his tables, chairs, books, memoirs, bed he died in, and even the copper bathtub he bathed in (very small size). Napoleon spent 6 long years in the Longwood House and died in 1821 and was buried on Saint Helena (next post). Interestingly, Longwood House is considered to be a French territory on Saint Helena overseen by a special consul.