Following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena in 1815. The Prince Regent directed that Napoleon should be treated with respect while in exile and to comply with his wishes a London cabinet maker, George Bullock, was commissioned to furnish the building on St Helena occupied by Napoleon, Longwood House.
The teapoy is believed to be one the items of furniture made by Bullock for Napoleon’s use. A teapoy is a piece of furniture used for storing and serving tea. They were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries when drinking tea was fashionable.
Napoleon remained at Longwood House from 1815 until his death on 5 May 1821. Following his death Napoleon’s items were dispersed among those who had guarded him.
The name teapoy actually derives from a Hindi/Persian term for “three-footed” and not from the furniture’s purpose. Early teapoys were constructed with three legs.
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