Bellerophon at Torbay
Helena: Bonaparte Arrives
Helena: House on 1st Night
of St Helena
Helena: The Briars
The Briars: Melbourne
his final defeat at Waterloo and
his subsequent second exile, Napoleon
Bonaparte spent 10 weeks on board the HMS Northumberland as
it sailed him to the far-flung reaches of the South Atlantic.
destination was St Helena, a small
and windswept island under British control. Almost 2000 kilometres
west of Africa, St Helena measured only 122 square kilometres (47
square miles) - half the size of his former home-in-exile, Elba.
intended home, Longwood, was
not finished by the time he arrived and so Bonaparte stayed with
a British family - the Balcombes- at their residence The
Briars. He made a great friend of the family's younger daughter
Betsy and the pair got on famously.
was much rancour between Bonaparte and the British governor of the
island, Sir Hudson Lowe, and the former emperor complained bitterly
of his treatment.
complained about not being able to ride without a British escort,
however, he apparently refused to even accept riding within sight
of them as it was "offensive" to him.
sore point was Lowe's refusal to call the former emperor "your
majesty". He instead called his prisoner "General Bonaparte."
Lowe was not the most tactful person to deal with, the complaints
about being poorly supplied and fed may not have a lot of basis.
to one of his staff, Bonaparte and his retainers were given on a
daily basis by the British:
kilos of meat
bottles of wine (excluding champagne and spirits)
his household spent much of the five-and-a-half years on the island
squabbling with each other, Bonaparte himself set off on what has
been called his last campaign - that of writing his memoirs and
creating a legend around his name.
was undoubtedly his most lasting victory.
The Balcombe family eventually settled in Australia and named their
new home, outside of Melbourne, The Briars.
It is now a museum where visitors can see the Dame Mabel Brookes
Napoleonic Collection, which includes furniture that Bonaparte shared
upon his stay with them and a large number interesting items such
as some of his hair, papers and death mask.