Heritage At Risk
Consisting of only 47 square miles, the Island of Saint Helena sits about 1200 miles due West from Angola. It is one of the remotest places on Earth.
700 miles from the ‘nearest’ habitation on the island of Ascension, European colonists first discovered Saint Helena on 21st May 1502, St. Helena's Day, by the Portuguese navigator, Juan da Nova Castella. In 1659, having realised the Island's strategic value, The English East India Company established a settlement under the command of Captain John Dutton, the first Governor.
Under his direction the building of the first small fort, later named James Fort, was considered sufficient to defend the Island from attack. Both the Fort and the natural defences were not formidable enough to prevent invasion by the Dutch but, after re-taking the Island in 1673, the East India Company continued fortifying the island. By the mid 18th century St. Helena had become a fortress.
Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo the British selected the island as the most suitable place for his incarceration, and took ownership from the East India Company.
Three hundred years of built heritage remains on the island. The sites where Napoleon lived are owned and maintained by the French state and are in excellent condition. However, these represent only a small portion of the Napoleonic buildings, many of which are at severe risk of being lost forever. Through our schedule of events, the BNBT hopes to raise enough funds to conserve and restore some of these sites most as risk.
Map of Saint Helena, 1817
This geographical plan of the Island of Saint Helena is dedicated by permission to Field Marshal His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent and Strathearn by Lieut. R.P. Read.