L'autre Sainte-Hélène - The other St. Helena

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The island of St. Helena

Longwood House

Other sites in the island

Main habitations

The site of Longwood, which is about 540 meters above sea level, was suggested by Colonel Wilks, at the arrival of the fleet of Admiral Cockburn who led Napoleon and his suite at St. Helena. The choice seemed obvious because it combines several advantages for the purpose of the detention:

- a distance from any other dwelling, thereby reducing any communication with the outside,
- a place
 easy to monitor because it is a plateau unprotected by any sizeable vegetation (and exposed to the trade winds),
- the proximity to a vast plain in which a regiment could be encamped assigned to monitor and guard the posts around a perimeter of  freedom.

The perimeter was initially limited to Longwood fields until the first guard post called Longwood Gate.
To the south, there is a ravine that descends into a valley (the French called it the valley of the "Nymph", or the valley of Silence), and across the slope, the guards were installed at some distance in one of the houses belonging to Miss Mason (this house was later renamed Teutonic Lodge and is now in ruins).

Napoleon and his followers moved to Longwood House on December 10th, 1815, with the exception of the Bertrand family which was installed in a building at a place called Huts Gate, on the road from Jamestown, pending the refurbishment of a house within the custodial perimeter of Longwood.

The diagram below provides a plan of Longwood dwellings. North is at top of this diagram.

Map of Longwood House
Here are the details:

- 1-9: this part of Longwood House was Napoleon's apartment with
         1- his bedroom
         2- his study: here he worked on his memoirs et also had his first interview with the Governor, sir Hudson Lowe
         (note: before 1821, the disposition of these two rooms was changed, as room 2 became the bedroom, while room 1 became a lounge with a sofa where Napoleon used to sit for hours)
         3- his bathroom
         4- the small service room where his valet, generally Marchand, would be in waiting
         5- the dining-room: it used to be a room without window, as all doors would lead to some other room; it is here that Napoleon would entertain his followers, and sometimes visitors, for dinner
         6- the library, which was maintained by Saint-Denis, nicknamed the "mameluk Ali"; in 1815, the apartment for Montholon's family was not ready yet, so they lived in this room before it was changed into a library
         7- the "salon" where Napoleon and his guests would retire after dinner, and where he generally received his visitors; it is this room, between the two windows (on the left of the diagram, in room 7), that Napoleon's bed was installed in the last phase of his illness, and where he died on the evening of the 5th of May 1821
        8- the "parlor" or vestibule, where a billard table was once installed; the room was mostly used as a waiting room for visitors, until Napoleon declined to receive any visitor
        9- the verandah: from there, Napoleon used sometimes to follow, with a lunette, the horse races that were organised twice a year in the plain of Deadwood, near the army camp; it is from this verandah that visitors to Napoleon would be introduced inside the house, to the parlor (waiting room), before being welcomed into the salon to meet with Napoleon and his officers
- a-e: this part of Longwood House consists of the service rooms and other common rooms
        a- in this inside courtyard were added some store rooms
        b- a common room for the domestics: it was built after 1816 and the domestics installed there the billard table that Napoleon gave to them, to free up the parlor
        c- the kitchen: several cooks came to work there in turn; the first one was Lepage, as he came to St Helena with Napoleon in replacement of the normal cook of the imperial service; Lepage was not a good cook; he was later assisted by a Belgian cook woman nicknamed "Jeanette" (she was previously employed at Plantation House, the Governor's house); she married with Lepage and both left Longwood in May 1818; then, for some time, Napoleon and his suite had to get used to... Chinese food, as there was no more cook speaking French in the island except for La Roche, who remained in the island for some weeks but left in March 1819; then, in September 1819, Chandelier, an excellent cook sent from Rome by Napoleon's sister, Pauline, started his service; but he had to leave the island a few months later, for health reasons; Longwood then returned to Chinese food
        d- the laundry room: Las Cases and his son lived in this room until their habitation was completed; the room was then used for the laundry service
        e- various store rooms

- These other rooms were built and completed after 1815; this is where the officers were lodged, except for Bertrand's family; it is sometimes called the "Generals rooms":
        OO- this room was used by the Orderly Officer at Longwood; the first one to live there was Poppleton from the 53rd Foot Regiment, and the last one was Captain William Crokat, from the 20th Foot (he then carried the news of Napoleon's death to the British Government)

         G- this room was Gourgaud's; it also had a small room next to it, for his valet; Gourgaud left in early 1818; then, in September 1819, Vignali, the junior priest sent from Rome by the Bonaparte family, was lodged there
         LC- this small apartment consisted of three small rooms: one was the bedroom for Las Cases and his teenage son, Emmanuel; next to it was their study room, which led to a third small room, for their domestic
         D- this room was used by the Doctor on duty at Longwood; O'Meara lived there until July 1818; he was then followed by Verling, until Antommarchi arrived in September 1819
         M- this set of rooms formed the apartment for Montholon's family, to which an extension was added in 1818; then, after Countess Montholon and her children left the island in July 1819, the room at the top (on the diagram) was given in September 1819 to Buonavita, the senior priest sent from Rome

sketch made ​​by Denzil Ibbetson in late 1819, or 1820,  provides a view
of Longwood from the road coming from Longwood Gate (the main guard post which monitored the access to the perimeter of freedom). Napoleon's apartment (parts A, B, C are not visible in the sketch, as they are hidden by a sod wall) is on the left of the sketch. The rooms that are depicted are: D = the billiard room of the domestics, E = the kitchen (it is actually located behind the laundry room), F = the doctor's room, G = the orderly officer's room, H = the apartment for Montholon's family (the extension visible on the right proves that this sketch is post its construction)

Longwood, by Denzil Ibbetson

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