Victor Hugo's Guernsey home reopens after restoration

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Media captionHauteville House in Guernsey reopens to the public after 18 months of renovation work.

The former Guernsey home of French author Victor Hugo has reopened to the public after extensive restoration.

Hugo lived at Hauteville House in St Peter Port between 1856 and 1870, and wrote some of his most celebrated works, including Les Miserables, there.

The renovation has recreated the home's original intricate decor, which was designed by the writer himself.

The 18-month project came after a billionaire art collector donated £2.6m to save the home.

Image copyright Visit Guernsey / BBC
Image caption The house has been restored (right) to reflect how it would have looked when Hugo lived there

Hugo moved to the Channel Islands in 1855 after being exiled from France for opposing Napoleon III.

Hauteville House was the author's home for 14 years, and Guernsey was the inspiration for many of his novels, including Toilers of the Sea.

The property was donated to the City of Paris in 1927 and is now a museum dedicated to the author, attracting 20,000 visitors a year.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

  • French author and poet
  • Exiled in Guernsey between 1855 and 1870 for opposing Napoleon III
  • Wrote the celebrated works Les Miserables, Toilers of the Sea, The Man Who Laughs, The Legend of the Ages, Ninety-Three at Hauteville House in St Peter Port.

Image copyright Roger Viollet/Arsène Garnier/Maisons de VictorHugo
Image caption Victor Hugo in his writing room, and on the balcony in 1868

Hauteville House's intricate interior had fallen into disrepair, while the property's fragile structure had been damaged by the effects of the weather.

Restoration work included a complete renovation of the two-storey conservatory and glazed writing room, know as "The Look-out", both of which were designed by Hugo.

The interiors, including tapestries, wood panelling and decoration made from felt and ceramic, were also restored based on original documentation and period photographs.

Image copyright Paris Musées / Jean-Christophe Godet
Image caption The Look-out, pictured before (left) and after restoration, was where Hugo wrote some of his masterpieces

Commenting on the renovation work, the writer's great-great-grandson, Jean Baptiste Hugo, said: "As a Hugo this is so precious. For us, it's the family seat, really.

"Compared to Paris, where it wasn't his house - it was a flat he rented - here is really the house he created himself."

Image caption The ornate furniture in Victor Hugo's bedroom has been restored

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