St. Helena – Helen’s Island

Thursday January 26th – Day 22

After a late but fantastic Beatles music night on deck the captain decided to arrive early at St. Helena. The anchor went down at 7:15am waking me up…thanks captain!!

A little history lesson: St. Helena was discovered by a Portuguese navigator on May 21st 1502 which is the feast day of St. Helena.  It is the second oldest remaining British territory after Bermuda and the capital Jamestown was founded in 1659 by the English East India Company and named after James, Duke Of York, the future King James II of England.

We took the scenic St. Helena tour leaving Jamestown harbour and driving up the narrow, steep and tortuous roads to our first stop – Napoleon’s Tomb. Napoleon had been exiled here after his defeat at the battle of Waterloo  and died here in 1821 although his remains were later taken to the Invalides in Paris in 1841.

From here we drove on to Longwood House his home whilst in exile. It is now a museum containing paintings, documents and mementoes of his imprisonment including his coat and hat and his bathtub. He spent the last six years of his life here and apparently he was allowed to go anywhere within a five mile radius of the house – a nice place to be banged up!!

Next stop was the governor’s residence The Plantation House but everyone was more interested in meeting the island’s oldest resident – Jonathan the tortoise reputed to be 180 years old.

From here we drove to Ladder Hill which is at the top of Jacob’s Ladder where we took photos of our ship in the outer harbour and photos of the town and harbour below us. The ladder built in 1829 consists of 699 steps and rises 600 feet. It was originally used to haul manure up and send goods down and is now a landmark of St. Helena.

Back down in Jamestown we strolled around the town exploring the shops and chatting to the locals – they don’t get many visitors dropping in here – and then said hello to the local “bobbies” (policemen) one of whom had served two years in the Gloucester police force back in the UK which is quite close to our home in Bristol – small world!!  As we had missed our noon day beer onboard we found the local pub where we quenched our thirst with the local brew.

Today is also Australia Day which commemorates the arrival of the first fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty. Happy Australia Day to all our Aussie friends both onboard and across the world.