A historic home in Guernsey, once home to the great French writer Victor Hugo, has been depicted on a miniature sheet to be released by Guernsey Post, reflecting this year’s Sepactheme of Old Residential Buildings(issue date: 24 July 2019).
The poet, novelist and dramatist bought Hauteville House in St Peter Port in 1856 after being exiled from France for opposing Napoleon III in 1851. He spent 14 years there, writing some of his famous masterpieces and re-designing the space around him.
The town house was the perfect canvas for Hugo to express himself and he set to work filling it with a range of styles, furniture, materials and decorative pieces, many of which he found in the island’s antique shops.
Hauteville House (80p Sepac stamp) has recently undergone an extensive 18-month restoration project – a collaborative effort between the Victor Hugo Houses in Paris and Guernsey, the Etablissement Public Paris Musées and representatives of the Heritage department in Guernsey. It included renovations to the Red Room (£1.59 stamp) on the first floor and the Look-Out (98p stamp) on the third floor, both of which have now been beautifully restored to their former glory.
The Look-Out, at the top of the house, with panoramic views of the sea and Hugo’s homeland, is light and bright and was the place he put pen to paper, working on Les Misérables, considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19thcentury, along with Toilers of the Sea, which he dedicated to the people of Guernsey.
The famous Red Room is sumptuously decorated with red satin walls and an intricately designed ceiling. Photos found during the renovation work showed the print of the fabric Hugo had chosen for the walls along with a piece of the fabric, which designer Pierre Frey was able to replicate as part of the restoration work.
Bridget Yabsley, head of philatelic at Guernsey Post said: – “Victor Hugo returned to France in 1870 but his Guernsey home stayed in the family until the writer’s grandchildren gifted it to the City of Paris in 1927. Now a museum, the recently re-opened Hauteville House has been wonderfully restored to appear as it would’ve done in Hugo’s day. We are delighted to depict the house and some of the beautiful rooms on our miniature sheet.”
The stamp products are available to pre-order from 1stJuly 2019 by visiting www.guernseystamps.com or contacting Philatelic customer services on +44 (0) 1481 716486.