A tunic worn in battle by Napoleon Bonaparte is one of several items on display in a new exhibition commemorating 200 years since the French emperor’s death.
‘Napoleon in Exile’ at the Fusilier Museum in Bury tells the story of the military leader’s final years and will include several personal items which have never been on display in the UK before.
The exhibition is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and opens to the general public on Saturday 25 September.
Rising through the ranks of the French military in the aftermath of the revolution of 1789, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France in 1804. He fought numerous and largely successful wars across continental Europe until his defeat by a British-led coalition at Waterloo in 1815.
Following his downfall, Napoleon spent his final years in enforced exile on the South Atlantic Island of St Helena, a British colony. Residing at Longwood House, the former residence of the island’s Lieutenant-Governor, he was guarded by British infantry soldiers until his death there in May 1821.
The Fusilier Museum has teamed up with other institutions from both the UK and France to curate this special exhibition. The tunic, which was worn by Napoleon as he fought Austrian forces at the Battle of Marengo in 1800, is on loan from the Musée de l’Armée in Paris until November.
Several pistols from Napoleonic campaigns are also on display, having been loaned from the Infantry and Small Arms School Museum in Warminster until early December. The rest of the exhibition will run into 2022.
‘Napoleon in Exile’ will also feature items from the Fusilier Museum’s own collection, such as the tunic of Surgeon Major Arnott of XX the Regiment of Foot. Arnott was a British doctor who attended Napoleon and was with him when he died.
Commenting on the opening, Colonel Brian Gorski, chairman of the Fusilier Museum, said: ‘We’re delighted to able to bring a little bit of Napoleon to Bury and honoured to tell his fascinating story especially with this year marking the 200th anniversary since his death.’
‘Not many people are aware that it was in fact a Fusilier who played a fundamental role in his care especially in his final days in exile on St Helena so it’s a great privilege to be able to share that story with our visitors both old and new.’
‘This exhibition is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime chance for people to see these unique items all together in the same place and be part of something very special,’ Gorski added.
Based in Lancashire, the Fusilier Museum is home to the collections of XX The Lancashire Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, documenting more than 300 years of their history and heritage through a mix of temporary and permanent exhibitions.