Mystery over Napoleon's hair

2010-03-04 21:19
Sydney - A few clippings of hair apparently taken from Napoleon Bonaparte on his deathbed have been found in Sydney's Town Hall after the 130-year-old building cleaned out its vaults.

The tiny swatch of light-brown hairs had for years been stored in the archives of the imposing sandstone building along with a letter but nobody knows when, why or how they were received.

Margaret Betteridge, who has curated an exhibition of the curios uncovered in the building, said on Thursday she could not be sure the hair belonged to the deposed French emperor, but that the accompanying letter made a good case.

In it, a Scotsman named Ned Todd explains that he was given the hair by a woman whose brother, a Major William Crockat, had been present at Napoleon's death.

"If I mistake not she said that her brother (Major Crockat) had himself cut the lock from the head of the illustrious dead," he wrote.

Fake unlikely


Betteridge said it was known that Napoleon's hair was cut after his death and that Crockat appeared in a painting depicting the death scene.

More mysterious is how the hair ended up in Sydney, more than 13 000km from where he died in St Helena in 1821 at the age of 51.

"We don't know how it got here," Betteridge said. "But it doesn't look like it is the sort of thing that someone would fake."

Betteridge said two years of renovations to improve the town hall had uncovered scores of strange objects stored in underground vaults.

"I had one (vault) that was just crammed full of the weirdest and wackiest things. A really interesting assortment of gifts given to the city. And bits of coffins. And bits of Napoleon's hair," she said.

The most valuable piece is likely a large Sevres vase, a gift from France following Sydney's hosting of an international exhibition in 1879.

"The French government were so impressed with the way Sydney handled the exhibition and managed the whole thing that as a token of their gratitude they presented the mayor and the people of Sydney with this spectacular porcelain vase," Betteridge said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    australia  |  offbeat
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!

 
 

For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may feel like you are treading water and going nowhere fast. You may want to get off the merry go round. By pushing yourself...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.