The house where deposed Emperor Napoleon III died in exile.
Camden Park Road, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 5HJ
Camden Place, at Chislehurst is a grade II* listed building which has, for over a century and a quarter, housed the Chislehurst Golf Club. The building is of great architectural and historic importance, having been the place of exile and death of the French emperor Napoleon III, but the building bears the hallmarks of a rich heritage of multiple ownership and historical associations from the early 18th century to the present day.
Architectural features of note include an entrance hall heavily carved oak panelling, dateable on the basis of its style to the late 16th or early 17th century an oval room was created by George Dance junior as a library for Thomson Bonar in 1807 and a monumental stone cantilevered staircase.
Antiquarian William Camden built a house on the site in 1607 but the current property dates from 1717 when Robert Weston built himself a country house here. Architects George Dance and James ‘Arthenian’ Stuart helped Sir Charles Pratt (Lord Camden) transform it into a Georgian mansion.
In 1860 it was purchased by Nathaniel Strode, possibly on behalf of Napoleon lll. He turned the property into something of a French chateau with entrance gates from the Paris exhibition and a new dining room with panelling from the Chateau de Bercy. By 1870 the Empress Eugenie had been offered the house and it became the base for the French Court in exile. Napoleon lll joined her and the Prince Imperial in 1871. This was the place of Napoleon’s death in 1873 and the backdrop to his funeral in 1873. Tragically it was also the setting for the Prince Imperial’s in 1879 after he died in British uniform in the Zulu War. Both funerals attracted tens of thousands of mourners to Chislehurst.
Since 1894 it has been the home of Chislehurst Golf Club.
- It was home to the Imperial Family and the French Court in exile in 1870’s..
- Queen Victoria was a regular visitor.
- 1760 It was bought by Sir Charles Pratt, who took the name of the house when he was ennobled, Lord Camden. (very unusual to ‘take another man’s name). Camden was Lord Chancellor and besides developing Camden Town, he is much loved in USA because he supported the ‘no taxation without representation’ calls. A number of cities and towns named after him.
- In 1813 it was the site of an horrific double murder of Thompson Bonar and his wife by their footman.
Changes through time
The building bears the hallmarks of a rich heritage of multiple ownership and historical associations from the early 18th century to the present day.
Through time, it has undergone many phases of alteration and repair, suffered wartime damage and been modified to suit changing tastes and uses. Today the building remains imperfectly understood and its significance and potential have yet to be fully appreciated.