blank [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

The Briars Pavilion

Napoleon’s Other House

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You’ll enjoy the sun so much more with the relaxing shade of a pavilion at your disposal.
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Before Longwood House was ready, Napoleon stayed at the Briars Pavilion

This page is in indexes: Island Structures, Island History, Island Place, Island Detail

The Briars Pavilion [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

Napoleon [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

Other ‘Napoleon’ pages:

• Napoleon Bonaparte

• Napoleon’s Tomb

• Longwood House

• Napoleonic Bicentenary

Below: Napoleon, and beforeLater HistoryToday

In case it isn’t obvious, The Briars Pavilion is located in The Briars!

Napoleon, and before

Before Napoleon’s arrival the Briars belonged to the Balcombe family, who came to the island from England in 1805. William Balcombe was employed by the East India Company, and was responsible for provisioning visiting ships. The Briars Pavilion was situated in his garden. It is not known if William Balcombe built it or acquired it with the land.

On 18th October 1815, the day after his arrival on St Helena, Napoleon was taken to visit Longwood, and on the return journey the party stopped at The Briars to visit the Balcombes. Napoleon spotted the Briars Pavilion, and requested he be moved there, lower Jamestown already being too hot and too full of curious spectators for his liking. William Balcombe agreed and Napoleon moved in immediately. He remained at the Briars Pavilion until he moved to Longwood House on 10th December 1815.

Having established good relations with the Emperor during his stay at the Pavilion, William Balcombe managed to manoeuvre to provide services to Napoleon and his entourage. In addition, William’s 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth Lucia (‘Betsy’) Balcombe was the only family member who spoke French and she became the Napoleon’s translator (the relationship between Napoleon and Betsy Balcombe has subsequently been the subject of much comment.) For all of these reasons, Governor Hudson Lowe became suspicious of the Balcombes (as he was too of Saul Solomon), and in 1818 the Balcombes were forced to leave St Helena and return to England.

By a remarkable coincidence, the Duke of Wellington had also stayed with the Balcombes, during his visit in 1805.

Later History

French flag [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

French Consulate Factbox


Longwood House, P.O. Box 14, St Helena Island, STHL1ZZ South Atlantic Ocean


(+290) 24409




Monday to Friday: 08:00 to 16:00


Mr. Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, Consul

Map of the French Properties [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]
Map of the French Properties
Longwood House Napoleon’s Tomb The Briars Pavilion{1}

After the Balcombes departure The Briars was leased by the government and initially used as the home for the Admiral assigned to St Helena. The Pavilion subsequently had various owners, and in 1959 it was purchased by Dame Mabel Brookes, a descendant of Sir William Stoveton, one of the island’s councillors. She donated it to the French government, which in return appointed her the following year as Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. The Briars Pavilion therefore became the third of the French properties on St Helena.

1857 (Balcombe’s house, left) [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]
1857 (Balcombe’s house, left){a}

1860s [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

1961 [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

HRH Princess Anne, 2002 [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]
HRH Princess Anne, 2002

2009 stamps [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]
2009 stamps


The main house was later completely destroyed by ‘White Ants’(Termites) and has now disappeared, but the Pavilion was restored by the French government and, by judicious use of memoirs written by Napoleon’s servants, now has the appearance it had in 1821. The room occupied by Napoleon has a camp-bed, a table, a chest of drawers, a sofa, an armchair and several chairs. It can be visited by appointment.

Internal view [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]
Internal view

… [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

The French Properties comprise 0.0203% of St Helena’s land area, being: Longwood House 10,572m² (0.0087%); Napoleon’s Tomb 3,693m² (0.0031%); Briars Pavilion 10,279m² (0.0085%).

closinghumourimage [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]

Laugh at funny briarspavilion humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:The Briars Pavilion]


{a} G.W. Melliss{2} from ‘Views of St Helena’, by G.W. Melliss{2}, published in 1857.

{b} John Isaac Lilley, our first photographer?, 1861-1866.

{c} Copyright © 1962 Film Unit, used with permission{3}.{4}


{1} In French.

{2} Father of John Melliss.

{3} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

{4} The 1962 Film Unit consisted of Charles Frater, Bob Johnston and Esdon Frost who came to the island and made a half hour film called “Island of Saint Helena”, many sound recordings and photographic stills. The full film is available on YouTube™


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