History of French presence on Saint Helena

Longwood House and the Valley of the Tomb became French historical properties in 1857.

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was warned about the disrepair of Longwood House and the Valley of the Tomb as soon as he took office as President of the Republic. Discussions with the United Kingdom to purchase these two properties were long and difficult.

The Briars Pavilion was gifted to France by a great-granddaughter of W. Balcombe in 1959.

At the dawn of the 3rd Republic, the property’s status was called into question because the sales deeds were written to the “French Emperor and (…) his heirs”. After several months of negotiations with the British Crown, the French Government retained ownership and an administrator was appointed to the properties which are now under the auspices of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Since 1858, a French representative has lived permanently on the island to manage these properties.

Last updated on: 10 January 2019