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Briar’s Pavilion - A view from our expert author


Napoleon spent his happiest time on St Helena at this small pavilion, in the grounds of a house owned by the Balcombe family, with views across to James Bay.

Napoleon spent his happiest time on St Helena at this small pavilion, in the grounds of a house owned by the Balcombe family, with views across to James Bay. Their house is long gone, but the pavilion – gifted to the French government in 1959 – was being fully restored in 2015. Once complete, its décor – as at Longwood House – will reflect the house at the time of Napoleon’s death. In addition, the attic area, which during Napoleon’s two-month stay was used by Comte de Las Cases and his son, was being sensitively rebuilt from the original plans. The gardens, too, have been re-established, but what is left of the original furniture from the pavilion will be on display at Longwood rather than here. An interesting experiment carried out at The Briars shortly after Napoleon died relates to an attempt by the governor to establish a silkworm farm here. A Chinese labourer who claimed to understand the breeding and care of silkworms was sent to China to procure some, but much to the disappointment of the governor, the project ended in failure.

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