Friday, 28 November 2008

The Generals' Apartments at Longwood House and other matters

It is now over three months since my last posting. Travels to Portugal, Malaysia and Norway, the credit crunch and the loss of much of what little wealth I once had have rather diverted my attention!

Anyway, it is time to resume. One of the objectives I set myself when I started this blog was to provide an occasional English language reference to Michel Martineau's blog. I have not done this for some time, but would now like to draw attention to the interesting posts made in November - on the neglect of the Bertrand House, on plans for tourist accommodation close to Napoleon's tomb, on the dilapidated state of Teutonic Hall (Mason's Stock House) and, most recently, some photos showing the restoration of the apartments which once housed Generals Montholon and Gourgaud, and Dr O'Meara.

The Generals' apartments were most recently inhabited by the former Chief Secretary (Mr Hallam), and before that housed a succession of French Consuls, including the Martineaus.

As I looked at these photos I couldn't help but doubt whether the apartments, like Longwood House itself, ever looked as luxurious during Napoleon's imprisonment. As the blog makes clear, there is no evidence of what decorations were in place during the captivity. Michel has made use of the drawings of George Bullock who was responsible for furnishing Longwood New House, to get an idea of how they might have been furnished. (1)
Michel Martineau's blog

The future of these apartments is not clear from the blog. I wonder if they too are to be opened to the public?

I never cease to be impressed with Michel's enterprise, energy and imagination. The excellent state of the French properties contrasts with much else on St. Helena - as many of his recent entries, including those on Bertrand's Cottage and Mason's Stock House indicate. The entry on Mason's Stock House documents the current decay, and also recalls the Napoleonic connections - with Lieutenant Wood and other British officers who regularly prayed there for the soul of Napoleon. (2)

1. Longwood New House, now demolished, stood close to Bertrand's Cottage. It was finished only a few days before Napoleon died; he always said he would not move there.

2. Lieutenant Wood was covered at some length in my blog on Napoleon's funeral, posted on March 7th 2008.