Residence of Australian Excellence in France: the Hamelin house
The historic Hamelin House in Honfleur, close to Le Havre, is for sale. Given its Franco-Australian ties, the Institute Nicholas Baudin is looking for an Australian organisation, company or individual to continue the Institute’s valuable work.
Jacques Hamelin was Baudin’s Second-in-Command and Captained the renowned ship “Naturaliste”. Hamelin was also the victor of the battle of Grand Port, Mauritius, which was the only naval battle won by the French against the English during the Napoleonic wars, and remains the only battle inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Hamelin was born and raised in the house and spent time there before the departure of the Baudin expedition from Le Havre to farewell his parents and entrust them with the safety of his wife. The suburb of Honfleur is very close to Le Havre, where the Museum of Natural History is located and holds the Lesueur et Petit collection – works by the artists of the Baudin expedition.
Honfleur is an historic city, and many families have lived there for generations if not centuries. There remains a wealth of historical artefacts held by these families and have never been made public. It isn’t unheard of to unearth unpublished papers from Hamelin’s very hand when making friends with locals and digging up treasures from this town steeped in history.
Whenever locals begin renovations on their properties they find objects, writing on their housing foundations, and even sculptures from centuries ago. The Hamelin House would likely qualify to be registered on the ISMH list of Historical Monuments for protection by the French State, and with the help of an architect or archaeologist the original XVIIIths century features of the home could be uncovered.
The Institut Nicolas Baudin (INB), a French-Australian research institute whose scientific direction is ensured by the CSIRO, immediately formed the project to create in this house a Residence of Australian Excellence in France. It will be able to welcome Australian scientists, researchers, students and artists who have come to complete their research and work in France. For this purpose, the INB launched this week a search for Australian foundations, institutions, private people likely to collect the sum (low enough) to acquire the house and arrange it to accommodate residents. INB members live in Honfleur are therefore ideally positioned to take care of the site on a full-time basis.
The entire property comprises of two apartments and has been listed for sale for a short period. The apartments are high-end, seasonal spaces which we believe will make well-suited residences for researchers. There is a restaurant on the ground floor which originally house Hamelin’s father’s apothecary and is currently in perfect condition. A plaque on the building’s façade signifies that the home was the true birthplace of Hamelin.
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