Monday, 26 July 2010

Orange Grove/Miss Mason's/Teutonic Hall

I have for some time been fascinated by this once fine house.

Apparently Hudson Lowe toyed with the idea of renting what was then known as Orange Grove for Napoleon for £100 a month.

How many houses did that tortured man consider I wonder? I refer of course to Hudson Lowe not Napoleon.

In Napoleon's time it was the home of the wealthy Miss Polly Mason, about whom I have discovered little, except that she apparently used to ride an ox, and always bowed effusively whenever she saw Napoleon.

There were the inevitable rumours about a romantic liaison - but St Helena has never been short of rumours - or romantic liaisons for that matter!

My understanding was that Miss Mason was still alive and greeted the French party when they returned in 1840 for the exhumation of Napoleon's body, but I may be wrong.

Anyway at some point the house was sold to Georg Wilhem Janisch, originally of Hamburg, and it was renamed Teutonic Hall.

The Janisch Family and Teutonic Hall

Janisch came out to St Helena as a clerk to Denzil Ibbetson. He was underemployed with Ibbetson, so Lowe took him on as personal secretary. They seemed to have a high mutual regard for each other, and Janisch later gave the name Hudson to his son.

Janisch fell in love with Ann Mira Seale, the daughter of Major William Seale. He decided to stay on when Lowe left in 1821. He married Ann Mira in 1823 and a son was duly born in 1824/1825.

The son, Hudson Ralph Janisch, became Governor of St Helena in 1874, in which office he remained until his death in March 1884 at the age of 59. He remains the only person born on the island to have served as Governor.

After Hudson's death his widow Eleanor, herself a daughter of the well established Pritchard family, moved to the Cape, which seems to have attracted a number of old St Helena families as the island went into economic decline.

The Janisch family were instrumental in helping to establish the Baptist faith on the island. Apparently the first ever Baptist sermon was delivered in July 1845 in the parlour of Georg William Janisch's widow. Was that Teutonic Hall I wonder, or their house in Jamestown?

Teutonic Hall is a listed building, but is now little more than a shell.

Its current perilous state was described in Michel's blog in November 2008.

Contrary to Michel's blog, I am pretty certain that Mason's Stock house was a different building, although presumably part of the estate.

The completion of the airport will doubtless lead to a big demand for property on the most pleasant parts of the island. One can imagine that St Helena will be seen by the wealthy as an safe and attractive domicile, secure from the uncertainties of the African continent.

I am sure I am not the first to realise that the value of this site, situated in a beautiful lush valley, will greatly appreciate in the future. Let us hope that something is done for the house that currently stands there before it is too late.

As the comment by Michel makes clear, there is a major error in this post. Orange Grove and Teutonic Hall were not the same building. Teutonic Hall was previously known as Mason's Stock House; so presumably Miss Mason did indeed still live in Orange Grove, which is closer to Hutts Gate. As far as I recall it was at Hutts Gate that she greeted members of the French party in 1840. It is also likely that the house Hudson Lowe considered, among others, renting from Miss Mason for Napoleon, was Orange Grove rather than the house now known as Teutonic Hall.


albertuk said...

Hi John
I would also think that Orange Grove and Mason Stock House are different buildings. Can you see Longwood House from Orange Grove? Because, from Mason Stock House, you should be able to, since it was used by piquets during the captivity.
Chaplin's "Who's Who" describes the group of soldiers (and Christian devouts) who were overlooking Longwood from this outpost in 1821.
At the time of the 53th regiment, Lt Reardon was stationed at Mason Stock House.
Miss Mason was indeed alive in 1840and Gourgaud mentioned her being still in good health and one of the best horserider of the island.

John Tyrrell said...

Thanks for your comment. Glad to know that my memory did not fail me re Miss Mason still being alive in 1840. I think she must have sold Orange Grove by then though.

Michel Dancoisne-Martineau said...

Hi John... for my next book "chroniques de Sainte-Hélène" which will be on the shelves early next year I had to check the deeds at the St.Helena archives to understand what happened there during Napoleon' exile. I confirm : Mason’s Stock House and Teutonic are the same house. Orange Grove is situated further down to the valley towards Hutt's Gate.

John Tyrrell said...

Wow. You have just blown a big hole in my bows - but since this is a blog I will not change it, but will add a note at the bottom. Many thanks. Perhaps you could put a picture of Orange Grove on your blog sometime.

albertuk said...

The Mason family seemed to have owned extended lands at the time. In Read's map of the island, c.1817, several buildings are "tagged" as "Mason". Only Orange Grove is noted as "Miss Mason", hence supposedly she lived there, but maybe owned them all.
So, as it seems, one of the so-called Mason property was sold to the Janisch, and became Teutonic Lodge. About whether this property was the one called "Mason Stock House", Michel's answer seems to clear this point.
But, if, from Teutonic Lodge, Longwood House is not visible in a distance, then "Mason Stock House" must have been another Mason property somehow, because of the story of the Christian piquets stationed there (Wood, Grant, etc) and overlooking Longwood.
Can someone confirm the view from Teutonic Lodge?
It seems that I would also need to correct some data in my pages at and the map at

Michel Dancoisne-Martineau said...

I confirm : from Teutonic Hall, Longwood House is quite visible in a distance... the 11 november 2008, I posted on my blog a photo with the view towards Longwood House you got from there.