Collection of material relating to French prisoners' theatricals at Portchester Castle 1810s

Scope and Content

This collection contains manuscript documents relating a group of French prisoners' theatre performances at Portchester Castle. It contains scripts, abstracts and letters from French prisoners and Pierre Charles Limozin to Captain Charles William Paterson in French and English. It also includes playbills in English.The material dates between 1810 and 1812, most of it on paper water marked W. Sharp 1805 [possibly the same W. Sharp as the publisher at 8, Charles Street].

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection features materials relating to a group of French prisoners' who put on theatrical performances at Portchester Castle, Hampshire, during the Napoleonic wars 1810-1811. Portchester Castle is Britain's only example of a Roman fort, which is now owned and run by English Heritage. Portchester Castle has been renovated and rebuilt over the years, and became a palace in the time of Richard II. It was used as a prison for about 7,000 prisoners of war during the Napoleonic wars.

The main author of the playbills, some letters, abstracts and possibly scripts is the prisoner Pierre Charles Limozin. At 40 years old, he was sergeant major of the first regiment of the Paris guard. Limozin writes in excellent English, and it can be reasonably assumed that he provided the translations. It is not clear whether most the plays relate to plays that Limozin would have known, or whether they were all original. Certainly, The Protector's Birthday and The Heart's were original pieces. The plays would have been performed by officers who may have been familiar with the theatre and its staging. The letters and invitations are to Captain Charles William Paterson who was the agent for the French prisoners of war at Portchester Castle from January 1810 and was a supporter of the theatricals. Furthermore, two of the plays were in honour of Paterson.


The collection is organised into the following series:

  • THM/415/1 Scripts and Abstracts
  • THM/415/2 Playbills
  • THM/415/3 Letters

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, September 2011.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:


No accruals expected.