Ruth Scurr

Empress Eugénie’s shrine to the Bonapartes

After her exile from France in 1870, the wife of Napoleon III purchased a Hampshire estate to house a nostalgic collection of family memorabilia

‘The Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting’ by Franz Xaver Winterhalter dominated the hall at Farnborough Hill, evoking the vanished glamour of the second empire. Credit: Alamy

The empress Eugénie – the Spanish-born last empress-consort of France, wife of Napoleon III, mother of the prince imperial – lived for the last 40 years of her life in Farnborough, between the military towns of Aldershot and Sandhurst. There she created a home, museum, mausoleum and chantry in commemoration of the first and second French empires. 

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