Press Releases from Levens Hall
20 November 2023
Historic Cumbrian House Anticipates ‘Napoleon’ Visitor Boom
Napoleon, the movie is set to hit the big screen and Levens Hall is proud to display its connection with Napoleon and the battle of Waterloo in particular

Levens Hall is anticipating an unexpected increase in Christmas 2023 event numbers, following hugely complimentary early reviews of Ridley Scott’s new movie, Napoleon.

Thanks to the life breathed into the character of the French Emperor and soldier by actor Joaquin Phoenix, Levens Hall and Gardens, located close to Kendal, is predicting a surge of interest in all things Napoleonic, after the movie is officially released on November 22.  For those who become absorbed by this period of history, the historic home and gardens is excellently placed to satisfy the curiosity.

The Elizabethan Hall is home to a variety of items once belonging to both Napoleon and his greatest adversary, the Duke of Wellington.  The property is owned by the Bagot family, into which the Duke’s niece, Lady Mary Charlotte Anne Wellesley, married in 1806.  The Duke bequeathed a number of items to his niece and these are now housed at Levens Hall.

The Duke’s possessions, such as his campaign bed, locks of his hair and that of his war horse, Copenhagen, not to mention a bottle of port wine presented by the people of Oporto after the Peninsular War, always cause a stir.  However, other items once belonged to Napoleon.

Some came into the Duke’s possession after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  If victory mementoes, it is likely they were kept with a sense of disdain for an enemy the Duke described as a “fraud” but also some degree of respect.  When referencing the man as a military leader, the Duke claimed his presence on the battlefield “was worth forty thousand men.”

There are smaller items of Napoleonic interest, such as Napoleon’s writing blotter, taken from one of the captured Napoleonic coaches after Waterloo, and a small book, seized from the carriage of Joseph Bonaparte at the Battle of Vitoria. There is also a set of French porcelain figures depicting Napoleon and his marshals.

Fans of the era will also delight in the Arabian saddle, given to Napoleon by Elphi, the Bey of Cairo, during the leader’s Egyptian campaign. 

Then there is a clasp of bees that closed and adorned the cloak Napoleon wore before Waterloo and which was found on a battlefield mound by the Duke of Wellington’s Aide de Camp.  Napoleon used the bee symbol to enhance his credibility as Emperor, with this having been the oldest emblem of French sovereigns. It also symbolised immortality and resurrection.

Another item conveying the era’s history is the Sevres Chocolate Service, seized from the chocolate factory at Sevres after Waterloo.  Napoleon had commissioned this special green Sevres porcelain chocolate service for ‘Madame Mère’. This was the Imperial title given to his mother, Letizia Bonaparte and the gift was intended to enable her to enjoy one of the time’s great trends – drinking chocolate.  The porcelain, which depicts hunting scenes in the park of Vincennes and figures that are portraits of Napoleon and his generals, had been packed up, in readiness for its presentation.

Anyone absorbed by Napoleon will also probably appreciate the gloves worn by the Duke at Waterloo and taken off his hands, post-battle, by Lady Mornington.  These are displayed with his spectacles and case.

With many other items to see as well, fans of the movie will be delighted to know Levens Hall will be open for a special Christmas event – Silhouettes and Song – taking place on the weekends of December 2 and 3, 9 and 10 and 16 and 17.  This event allows visitors to tour some of the Hall’s rooms, exquisitely decorated for Christmas, whilst also enjoying a changing musical programme featuring everything from choral to brass band performances.

It will also allow entry to part of the Levens Hall garden – the world’s oldest topiary garden, ironically founded by a Frenchman, Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, in 1694, a century or so before Napoleon’s rise to power. There, the trees will be at their absolute best after their winter trim and stunningly silhouetted against a winter sky.

Entrance to the event costs £5.50 for adults and £2 for children and entrance will be from 11am to 4pm on those days, with last entry at 3.30pm.  Levens Kitchen will be serving a festive menu, whilst festive bakes and cakes will be available for takeaway from Levens Bakery.

Those who cannot attend one of these festive events will have to wait until Levens Hall officially reopens for the 2024 season, on 27 March, to enjoy its 19th century displays, if the movie Napoleon has ignited an interest in this period of history.  Visit for more details.

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