Visits to the State House are very rare. This year because of the 25 yrs anniversary of the Republic and next year’s 50th anniversary of Independence, the State House hosted a week of family activities and even if we didn’t join any of the festivities, we came to visit the gardens. They are big, and beautiful. A real treat to the eyes.
The State house is located in Reduit, in the centre of the island. We didn’t get to see more of the house – i don’t if there are days where it is possible to visit (like for the Independence Day on 12th March) or if you only are allowed into the reception room.
There was in exposition going on in relation with the activity week so there were a few paintings and sculptures around the garden. They are all by Mauritian artists.
The state house dates from 1748, it was commissioned by the French governor Pierre F. B. David. It was more a fortress then to defend against attacks, but also used as a women and children shelter. It was extensively renovated under the British rule, specially after the cyclones of 1868 and 1892. The cyclone from 1892 was particularly violent and the House was saved from complete destruction by the then governor Sir Henry Jerningham. The garden as it is today was created by British Governor Sir Hesketh Bell as he took interest in the gardens and installed fountains, other water features and introduced plants from Kew Gardens in London, but also from Ceylan.
One last but not least mention for a special flower.
The Trochetia Boutoniana or the ‘boucle d’oreille’, the earring tree is the national flower of Mauritius. It was chosen in 1992 when Mauritius became a Republic. It was named after the famous french botanist, Louis Buton, and is endemic to Mauritius. The tree is found in the wild only in one location on the island, on the slopes of the Morne Braband in the south of the Island. They have been planted a little bit everywhere, but are however a rare find on the island. This picture is in the garden of the State House.
I have mentioned the cyclone from 1892, in the post ‘The Lady in Black‘.