Thursday, 20 March 2014

French connections with Hartwell House

Between 1809 and 1814, Hartwell House was the home of the exiled French king, brother of King Louis XVI who was executed in 1793.  Previously known as the Comte de Provence, Louis Stanislas was now known as King Louis XVIII of France. 

He brought his court here, with the permission and generous help of the Prince Regent, who granted the exiled Bourbons permanent right of asylum and an annual allowance.

Together with Louis were his Queen, Marie-Josephine of Savoy, and his niece, the Duchess of Angouleme, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. She was married to Louis XVIII's nephew, Louis-Antoine, son of the Comte d'Artois, later King Charles X. Also with the king was Gustavus IV, the exiled king of Sweden.

The history of Hartwell House stretches back almost a thousand years to the reign of Edward the Confessor. William the Conqueror gave it to his natural son, William Peveral, for his domain. Later it was the seat of John Earl of Mortaigne who succeeded his brother Richard the Lion Heart as King of England in 1199. 
The house was enlarged and embellished over the centuries, and the fine park of ninety acres was laid out in different styles, corresponding to changing fashions.

Short of money, the French courtiers converted the roof into a little farm, where birds and rabbits were reared in cages, while vegetables and herbs were cultivated in tubs. They sold their produce in shops they created in the outbuildings.

King Louis signed the document accepting the French crown in the library at Hartwell House in 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon.


  1. I just tried to post Beth, did you get it? Don't want to have to repeat it but will if necessary :)

  2. Trying again Beth. Just wanted to say loved this post - so very interesting and informative as always and love the photos too. Just spent a week going round National Trust houses and gardens, love the history and the whole package. This reminded me of the wonderful places visited over the years and what a rich history we have and how lucky we are to be able to research and write about it. Thanks. Jane x

  3. Thank you for persevering, Jane. This is my second attempt at posting a reply. What is Google up to? I agree with you that we are fortunate to have such a rich history - and even more to have people who look after it. Hartwell House is fascinating and the staff are so welcoming. My visit was both useful for research and a wonderful day out.

  4. Oh I made it back but wonder if this will post - keeping on keeping on. Love these snippets and photos. I would love to visit. I've been lucky of late; my birthday jolly in March took me to Batemans (home of Rudyard Kipling), Wakehurst Place - wonderful gardens and house, Lewes town and castle, the National Pinetum at Bedgebury and also Rye town and church. I was also taken to a fabulous manor house - you would love it, a great setting for a book - called Ightham Mote. Topped off with a night-time visit to Herstmonceux observatory - all so fantastically interesting and lovely. I posted photos and information so that I wouldn't forget and because it was all so wonderful and I wanted to share it, like you. Found Jamaica Inn a waste of time; bad lighting, mumbled dialogue and ropey scenery, with music too loud and the pace too slow. That's why I love books. I can sue my own imagination to set the scene. Like you set the scene in yours. I hope this posts. Jane x