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Sir Hudson Lowe on St Helena

The new exhibition Sir Hudson Lowe on St Helena launched on Sunday the 14th April at Plantation House.  This date marked the anniversary of Hudson Lowes arrival to the Island in 1816.  The Exhibit showcases the man whose humble beginnings as an Anglo-Irish working class boy carried him to a career that culminated with his knighthood and appointment as Governor of St Helena, during Napoleons captivity here.

The former Governor is described as being a character who “aroused the most extreme and antagonistic positions” during the exile of Napoleon.  It led Historians to be torn in their opinions of him.

On the French side, he was perceived as the gaoler who psychologically tortured and vexed Napoleon to a slow death, while the British were torn between Loyalist, Foxite Whigs and Radicals views of Napoleon and therefore his subsequent doom.

It was Lord Rosebury whose judgment concurred that Lowe had a “luckless fate” to accept a position “in which it was difficult to be successful, but impossible for him”.

Crushed by the weight of his responsibilities Lowe was described as more of a prisoner of his instructions rather than the Emperor who he constrained.

Set out to a colour coded floor plan, the exhibition takes visitors into 6 chambers of the current and former Governors’ residence.   It showcases the French versus British perception of Lowe; how St Helena was in lockdown during the time of Napoleons exile. It also touches on aspects of how he developed society during his time here – including a brief account on his influence in the abolition of slavery on St Helena.

Lowe’s ground support and workforce was said to have reinforced significantly during the exile hence he is reflected in St Helena history as one of the most productive Governors of the ages, albeit a pedantic one.  He was said to have struggled in his role having been appointed by the East India Company to head the civil administration, but also having to answer to the British Government for the captivity and safe custody of Napoleon.

In particular he battled convincing the two most powerful traditionalist councillors in his civil administration.

Extracting a huge amount of information from newspaper sources at the time, Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, the French Consul Representative who has led the exhibition, says he chose a newspaper style brochure to self-guide visitors through the exhibit. 

This may also be kept as a souvenir of significance as Michel says this may be the only exhibit in the world to have featured Sir Hudson Lowe, solely.

Following the launch this exhibition is now open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays from 13:00-14:00pm and 14:00-15:00pm at a cost of £10 per person.

Registrations can be made via the Tourist office. 

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