A British attraction with links to the French Revolution is set to grow in popularity thanks to the release of Ridley Scott’s new film. Napoleon.
Levens Hall and Gardens in Cumbria is home to a wealth of items that once belonged to the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his greatest enemy, the Duke of Wellington.
Items on display include a lock of the Duke’s hair, Napoleon’s blotter and a bee clip taken from the Emperor’s cloak after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
With these and other items, the Elizabethan Hall says it is “excellently suited” to satisfy the curiosity of fans who will be “captivated by this period” when the film hits cinemas on November 22nd.
It continues: “Thanks to the life that actor Joaquin Phoenix has breathed into the character of the French emperor and soldier, Levens Hall and Gardens near Kendal is predicting a surge in interest in all things Napoleon.”
Levens Hall and Gardens, pictured here, is home to a wealth of items that once belonged to both the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his greatest opponent, the Duke of Wellington
Levens Hall belongs to the Bagot family, into which the Duke’s niece, Lady Mary Charlotte Anne Wellesley, married in 1806.
The Duke, known for his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, left her a number of items after his death in 1852, which are now kept in Levens Hall.
This also includes strands of hair from the Duke’s horse, Copenhagen, his portable folding bed and a bottle of port wine presented by the residents of Porto after the Peninsular War.
According to Levens Hall, these items “always cause a stir.”
Other items belonging to Napoleon came into the Duke’s possession after his army’s victory over the French.
The Hall states: “If memorabilia of victories are kept, it is likely that they were kept with a sense of contempt for an enemy that the Duke described as a ‘fraud’, but also with a degree of respect.”
“When the Duke described the man as a military leader, he claimed his presence on the battlefield was “worth forty thousand men.”
Smaller items on the estate also include the Emperor’s writing pad, taken from one of the captured Napoleonic carriages to Waterloo, and a small book confiscated from the carriage of older brother Joseph Bonaparte at the Battle of Vitoria.
Visitors to Levens Hall can gaze at “a bee clasp (pictured) which fastened and decorated the cloak worn by Napoleon before Waterloo”.
Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon
There are also a number of French porcelain figurines depicting Napoleon and his marshals.
“Fans of this era will also enjoy the Arabian saddle, Elphi, which Bey of Cairo gave to Napoleon during the leader’s Egyptian campaign,” says Levens Hall.
“Then there is a buckle made of bees that fastened and decorated the cloak worn by Napoleon before Waterloo, which was found on a battlefield hill by the Duke of Wellington’s aide-de-camp.”
“Napoleon used the bee symbol to bolster his credibility as emperor, as it was the oldest emblem of French rulers.”
“It also symbolized immortality and resurrection.”
Another item that conveys the history of this era is the Sevres chocolate service, confiscated from the chocolate factory in Sevres, France, after Waterloo.
Napoleon commissioned this special chocolate service made of green porcelain for “Madame Mère,” the room explains.
Geared up for action: Napoleon hits cinemas in the UK on Thursday November 22nd
LEFT: Visitors can explore the “oldest topiary garden in the world” at Levens Hall. RIGHT: A lock of the Duke of Wellington’s hair is among the exhibits at Levens Hall
According to Levens Hall, the Sevres chocolate service up at the chocolate factory in Sevres was confiscated after Waterloo
ABOUT LEVENS HALL
Levens Hall and Gardens is a historic house near Kendal, Cumbria.
Built around a 13th-century Pele tower, the Elizabethan house is closely associated with the Duke of Wellington and houses various items that once belonged to him and Napoleon Bonaparte.
It also features the world’s oldest formal gardens, dating back to 1694, created by French garden architect Guillaume Beaumont.
Levens Deer Park, on the other hand, is home to a herd of black fallow deer and a herd of rare Bagot goats. With their distinctive white fur, black faces and large curved horns, the goats are believed to be the oldest goat breed in Britain with documented ancestry.
Source: Levens Hall and Gardens
This was the imperial title given to his mother, Letizia Bonaparte, and the gift was intended to enable her to enjoy one of the great trends of the time – drinking chocolate.
The porcelain, depicting hunting scenes in Vincennes Park and figures portraying Napoleon and his generals, was packaged ready for presentation.
“Anyone interested in Napoleon will probably also appreciate the gloves worn by the Duke at Waterloo and which Lady Mornington took from his hands after the battle,” the website says.
“These will be displayed along with his glasses and case.”
Levens Hall says those who enjoy the new Napoleon film will also be “thrilled” by the website’s Christmas event, Silhouettes and Songs.
This takes place on the weekends of December 2nd and 3rd, 9th and 10th and 16th and 17th. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., last entry at 3:30 p.m.
During this time, visitors can tour some of the hall’s “exquisitely Christmas-decorated” rooms and enjoy a musical program including choir and brass band performances.
Part of Levens Hall Garden, described by the website as the “oldest topiary garden in the world”, will also be accessible.
“Ironically” it was founded in 1694 by Frenchman Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, about a century before Napoleon came to power, the hall says.
“The trees there will give their best after the winter pruning and will stand out breathtakingly against the winter sky,” it continues.
Visitors to the Levens Hall Christmas event will be able to view some of the hall’s “exquisitely decorated” rooms. Pictured: The Great Hall
Levens Kitchen serves a festive menu, while the bakery offers festive pastries and cakes to take away.
Entry to the event costs £5.50 for adults and £2 for children.
Following the Christmas event, the location will close and reopen on March 27 for the 2024 season.
For more information visit www.levenshall.co.uk.