Friday, February 08, 2013

Members of the British Empire, preparing to defend Napoleon's home!

Our education on St. Helena continued with a tour of Napoleon’s homes and his tomb.  When he first arrived on the island with his entourage of 28 he was shown his proposed accommodations.  I guess they weren’t to his liking, it was a converted barn in much need of renovations.  On his way back to town he glimpsed a house and requested to be allowed to see it.  The owner graciously offered the front room to him, while his permanent residence was being fixed. 
Napoleon's first home on the island
 The first house where he lived for 6 months is situated overlooking the harbour with gardens surrounding it. We were shown the front room and told that he lived there with one general interacting with the family that owned the property and lived in a nearby home. He also had a tent that was erected on the front lawn so he could rest there in the shade.  
 This is supposed a kneeling chair. 

Isn't this a beautiful piece of furniture

The home where he lived for 7 years until his death, from stomach cancer, is located up in the hills.  It has lots of pictures and paintings from the era and the tour guides were filled with stories.  
Napoleon's residence from 7 years

He apparently loved his bath and was known to take meals, dictate correspondence and read for hours in it.  It is very deep and he had to have a step in order to get in.  

Apparently the house was very moldy and damp and rats were common.  Arsenic was put out to keep the rats down and it would get in the walls and apparently the English did not really try to poison him, it was just in the air in his home!!!

 His bed is very short but this was the style of the day, you didn’t lay flat but were propped up in it.  
We headed off to see his tomb.  When he was buried the English and the French could not agree what to put on his tomb, the English wanted General, but the French insisted on Emperor, the English wanted Napoleon Bonaparte, the French wanted just Napoleon so nothing was put.  We walked about 400 meters down a grassy lane to the spot were he was buried.  

It was  idyllic vale, with bougainvillea blooming and lush foliage all around the tomb.  There was a 24 hour guard posted after his death so that his bones would not be disturbed.   25 years after he landed on the island his remains were disinterred and repatriated to France. 
While he  was alive the English took great pains to make sure he did not escape.  There were 2 war ships in constant motion around the island.  The army presence was increased from 600 soldiers to 2000 and a guard was posted around his home at all times. No ship was allowed to leave the harbour until it was insured that Napoleon was  in his house and the Governor gave the go ahead.
At the end of the tour we stopped at the top of Jacob’s Ladder.  It offered great views of the town and the anchorage.
It is a long long way down, great view though!

 We plan to walk up the ladder in about an hour. Yesterday we participated in the melee that takes place every Thursday morning to get fresh fruit and vegetables.  The only fruit we got were bananas but I did buy some guava jelly, that should keep the scurvy away! The market was supposed to open at   0900, by 0910 there was a crowd edging forwards to be the first to get the best choice of the produce.  We got some very nice lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots and a few beets, all locally grown which was very nice.  We have booked a dive for Sunday morning and will be leaving for Brazil on Monday morning after we check out. 
Just hanging about around the back of a building