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Ideas wanted for home of Napoleon’s general

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Bertrand’s Cottage was home to Jamie Roberts (right) when he ran St Helena National Trust

A new future is being sought for the home of one of General Henri-Gratien Bertrand, one of the officers who joined Napoleon in exile on St Helena.

Bertrand’s Cottage in Longwood is considered to have changed little since the general and his family moved out, after the deposed emperor died in 1821.

New name – new future?

The building later saw a more humble role as Longwood Farmhouse, but then stood empty until protests were made about its neglect.

Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, custodian of the French Government’s Napoleonic properties on St Helena, pressed for action from St Helena Government, which owns the house.

He took a group of visiting journalists round the building and found dead birds inside, and damage by skateboarders.

The government asked St Helena National Trust to clean it up, and in 2009, the trust’s new director, Jamie Roberts, moved in with his family.

The trust has now held a meeting at the house to consider how it could be used in the future.

Students get a tour of St Helena’s “other” Napoleonic house

It is likely that at least part of the building – the “General’s Apartment” – will continue to be used for accommodation.

The house looks out towards Flagstaff Hill and The Barn. It also gave Napoleon a view of horse racing on Deadwood Plain.

He is said to have been fond of a camellia tree that still grows in the garden.

Michel has asked readers of his internet blog to suggest new uses for the house.

He writes: “Anything is possible (except its demolition, of course) but in a framework that would be economically beneficial to all.”

One anonymous contributor asks: “Should it be attached to the areas French de Sainte-Hélène? After restoration, it could host visitors/tourists under a concession from management to a local hotelier.

Michel would welcome further suggestions via his blog, here.

Bertrand’s Cottage – John Tyrrell’s historical blog
Blog posts on Bertrand’s Cottage by Michel Dancoisne-Martineau
General Henri-Gratien Bertrand

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