Stop 8: Prince Imperial Monument

Prince Imperial Monument
Prince Imperial Monument Now
Originally on open Common land...
...the monument is now difficult to see

Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, was a romantic and colourful character, hugely popular in mid Victorian England. High Society raved about him, women threw themselves at him, and all the Royal Family sang his praises.

He was 14 and heir to the Emperor Napoleon III, when he came to Chislehurst with his mother, the Empress Eugenie to escape the Paris mobs, after the Emperor's humiliating defeat at Sedan. He joined the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and despite his mother's refusal to his request to do so, he joined his fellow officers (though as an observer) in the Zulu wars. He was killed there on 31 May 1879. You can read about his life here...

This huge granite cross, designed by Edward Robson in 1881, stands as a monument to the Prince. It is situated opposite Camden Place (see image below from early in the 20th century). Originally the cross would have been visible from across the commons, but it is now surrounded by dense wood and has a slightly eerie feeling to it. More images...

Note the inscriptions on the cross, which include words from his last will and testament: 'I shall die with a sentiment of profound gratitude...'
Retrace your steps to the mini-roundabout and turn left down Watts Lane
The triangular piece of common between Watts Lane and Bromley Road, Hangman's corner, was the site of gallows in the 17th century. It is rumoured that the small area of grassland exists because no tree can grow here!

Aerial image of Camden Place and memorial