PRINCE BONAPARTE OF WEST GREEN
During our research on the history of Lordship Recreation ground we first discovered that the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte had once lived in the West Green area of Tottenham. We have since obtained a copy of a very interesting article that elaborates on this curious connection with Tottenham's past.
In the year 1861 West Green was a village of some half-dozen villa's and a score of cottages. The horse-bus passed through twice daily - once to the City and once back again. On a hot day the bus would drive through the horse pond on the green (Now long filled in) There was yet no railway; instead of the station there was a little beerhouse called the 'Bricklayers Arms'. There was the tiny charity school (now the Robins Mission) and at the side of this, instead of a railway cutting, there were the grounds belonging to a Mrs Ives. Instead of Etherley Road there was a villa called 'The Woodlands' and instead of Abbotsford Avenue there was 'West Green Lodge'. Only Black Boy Lane led down to a rickety wooden bridge over the Stonebridge Brook and up to Hanger Farm, where Woodland School is now. Opposite the 'Black Boy' was the villa belonging to Mrs Ives. In September 1861 a quiet scholarly man retired to this house. He bore a strong resemblance to the great Napoleon, who was his uncle.
His father, Lucien Bonaparte Prince of Canino, had a great hand in the rise of Napoleon, but angered him by marrying the beautiful Madame Jouberthon, the widow of a stockbroker. Napoleon wished his brothers to marry into the great royal families. To escape his brothers wrath Lucien retired to Rome. Later came a proposal from Napoleon to make him King of Portugal if he would renounce his marriage. Lucien refused, and in 1810, thought it wise to take a trip to America. Apparently he was going to visit his brother Joseph who lived in Philadelphia, but he was captured by an English cruiser and taken to England. At Thorngrove, a mansion in Worcestershire on January 4th 1813, his son Louis Lucien Bonaparte was born, thus becoming an Englishman by birth. In 1814 the family moved back to Italy, and after Waterloo they retired to the estate at Canino, where Lucien spent the rest of his life in literary pursuits.
The grounds around Canino were particularly rich in Etruscan remains, and the boy Louis-Lucien developed a passion for obscure and extinct languages and became the author of numerous treatises. In 1849 he was elected to represent the Seine district. When the Bonapartes again seized power in 1851, he was made a senator, and receive the titles of 'Prince' and 'Imperial Highness' but ignored the special favours that went with them. He had no taste for the ostentation of court life - and so here he was at West Green.
By a strange coincidence, during their residence in West Green, their route to church would have taken them close to Broadwater Farm where the farmhouse had been largely built by William Hobson who lived at Markfield House in Tottenham. William Hobson was the builder who built the 'Martello Towers' along the southern coast of England for the purpose of repelling the expected invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte and his army, who was of course the uncle of Louis Lucien Bonaparte.
In January 1871 Paris surrendered to the Germans, and the monarchy came to an end. Louis-Lucien found himself very much the poorer, but the Empress Eugenie granted him an allowance, and in 1883 Queen Victoria recognised his literary services with the grant of a pension. He took a house in Bayswater where he had a large library and a collection of Napoleonic relics. Ill health took him back to Italy where he died in November 1891.
(Note: This article has been reproduced from a typed copy held at the Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham. This story is of special historic interest to the residents of Tottenham and we acknowledge the token approval of the Museum for us to publish the contents on this website. )