Museum & Galleries

Hauteville House

Guernsey / Europe

Hauteville House is the house where the famous French writer, Victor Hugo (1802-85),  lived during his exile from France, located at 38 Rue Hauteville in St. Peter Port.  The house was built around 1800 by an English privateer and came into the possession of William Ozanne.  It gained the reputation of being haunted by the spirit of a woman who had committed suicide and remained unoccupied for several years.

Victor Hugo had been exiled from France by Emperor Napoleon III, first settling in Jersey, but he was expelled from that island for supporting a newspaper which criticised Queen Victoria.  He arrived in Guernsey in October 1855.  He bought the house on 16 May 1856 with the revenues from the initial success of the publication of Les Contemplations.  By owning it, he ensured that he could not be expelled from the island as Guernsey law prohibits the deporting of people with property on the island.

Victor Hugo and his wife, Adèle Foucher (1803-68) transformed the house during his exile, furnishing and decorating it during his exile from 1856 to 1870.  He returned to France after the death of Napoleon III in 1870.  During a return visit in the summer of 1878, he named the house ‘Hautville, rather than Liberté, which had been his original intention. 

The house has four floors, the top one featuring a glazed lookout with a view of St Peter Port, Herm and Sark, and the islands near them.  The garden is filled with trees and flowers that grow abundantly due to the mild climate.

In March 1927, the centenary year of Romanticism, Hugo’s descendants, Jeanne, Jean (the artist), Marguerite and François donated the house to the City of Paris.  It currently serves as the home for an honorary consul at the French Embassy in London and a Victor Hugo museum.  Both the house and the garden are open to the public.  The City of Paris oversees it.  The external structure of the building was restored between 2008 and 2009, and between 2017 and 2019 the interior was restored, thanks to a donation of £2.6 million fromFrançois Pinault (born 1936), the French businessman. 

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