Monday, 13 May 2013

Longwood House: Billiard Room sans Billiard Table

The Billiard Room at Longwood 2013

Earlier this year the staff at Longwood House were busy crating 36 pieces of furniture to be sent to Paris. There the furniture will be restored under the direction of M. Amaël Gohier, and in 2016 will go on display at Les Invalides in an exhibition that it is hoped will promote St Helena tourism.

Napoleon's Billiard Table

Apart from the bath, the most notable piece no longer on display is the billiard table used by Napoleon for laying out maps and papers rather than for playing billiards. Like all the original furniture at Longwood, the billiard table was made in England and shipped out for Napoleon. (1)

The ultimate aim of the work taking place at Longwood, which includes the rebuilding of the Generals' Quarters, is to recreate the house as it was when Napoleon died, ready for the bicentenary in 1821.

M. Amaël Gohier, furniture restorer, relaxing on RMS St Helena, March 2013

So, on its return to Longwood the famous table will be placed not in the billiard room at the front but to the rear of the building, where it was used by the servants in the later stages of Napoleon's captivity. With the airport hopefully operational, 5th May 2021 should be a momentous day in St Helena's calendar.

During his stay on St Helena the Parisian based restorer, Amaël Gohier, also ran a furniture restoration course for a number of Saints. It is hoped that in future there will be local people with the necessary skills to restore the old furniture which remains on the island in public and in private hands.

Longwood House Furniture at Tilbury Docks, May 2013

Michel Martineau's blog indicates that the Longwood furniture arrived undamaged in London. It has had a long circuitous journey, from St Helena to Ascension, back to St Helena, then to Cape Town, and there transferred to another ship and taken to Tilbury. Hopefully it is now safely in Paris.


1. Claims at Highclere Castle, the famous Downton Abbey in the ITV series, that it has a French made desk used by Napoleon at Longwood seems to be without any foundation.

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