The Sane Valley

Saint Helena History, Napoleon I

This valley was the place of Napoleon’s first burial from 1821 to 1840. His remains were then repatriated to France, at the request of Louis-Philippe, to be buried in the Invalides. Spread over an area of 14 hectares and named “Geranium Valley” by Napoleon, its name has become “The Tomb Valley”, sometimes called in some ancient sources “Tomb Valley”.

Napoleon had expressed the wish that, if his body could not be brought back to France, he would be buried near a source from which water was drawn to be brought to Longwood. The tomb, surrounded by a cast iron grid, was covered with three tombstones. Until 1840, twelve English soldiers took turns watching over the tomb in a bungalow.

The French wanted to engrave “Napoleon” on the slab, but Hudson Lowe, the governor of the island, demanded that it be inscribed “Napoleon Bonaparte”. This dispute resulted in the slab being left bare, and it remains the same as of today.

In 1830, at the time of the fall of Charles X, the wife of the governor of the island, Lady Dallas, francophile and liberal, had twelve cypresses planted symbolizing the Franco-British friendship around the tomb of Napoleon, in honor of the first twelve marshals of the Empire.