Friday, 25 September 2015

Napoleon at OHOS's Heritage Open Days

Napoleon contemplating his Wedgewood plates
This year being the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, OHOS decided to explore the Keep's links with Napoleon.  The Keep was built for the Royal Berkshire Regiment, formed partly from the 66th Berkshire Regiment, which guarded Napoleon during his exile on St Helena.  During the Heritage weekend over 150 visitors viewed a replica Napoleon cooped up in a cell in the Keep, and they also enjoyed other exhibits kindly lent by the Rifles Museum in the Wardrobe, Salisbury (www.thewardrobe.org.uk).  These included a diary (1808-1942) written by Charles McCarthy of the 66th Regt, mentioning his time with Napoleon in the 1820s, and transcribed now by OpenHand OpenSpace artist Ingrid Jensen.
Major Charles McCarthy's Diary
Also on show were prints from a folder of works in the Wardrobe's collection called "Kerr's views in the Island St Helena." They were produced by  Robert Havell after John Kerr in 1822 as hand coloured aquatints based on watercolour paintings done by one of the soldiers on the island.  As the originals are too fragile for display, OpenHand OpenSpace artist Anna Mitchell photographed the originals in Salisbury, and OHOS had new archival quality prints produced for exhibitions.  Havell's was a Reading company with premises in London.
Napoleon outside Longwood House, St Helena

Visitors also enjoyed guided tours of artists' studios on the upper floors of the Keep. OHOS is grateful for sponsorship from RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) for production of a historical information panel about the Keep, to the Wardrobe Museum of loan of artefacts, and to Reading Museum for a panel about Reading during the Napoleonic wars. 

  •   A fascinating glimpse into the Napoleonic era and Napoleon himself.  Very interesting and informative – thank you.
  •       So pleased to be able to visit this landmark and learn some of the history of the Berkshire regiment and also to be fascinated by the artistic work being carried out.  We do hope that this project flourishes.  
  • Thank you very much for an impressive Open Day.   What a lot of great work has gone into this