Ascension Island Bicentenary
In October 2015, Ascension Island marked 200 years since the garrisoning and settlement of the island by the Royal Navy. This special birthday was celebrated with a diverse programme of events throughout the Bicentenary year, culminating in a weekend of celebrations from 22-25 October 2015. Ascension Island was delighted to host Commodore Darren Bone, Commander of British Forces South Atlantic, as Guest of Honour, as well as the Band of the Royal Marines who entertained the whole community with a diverse selection of music at a number of events.
A big thank you to all those who volunteered their time and commitment. The Bicentenary could not have been a success without you.
What happened in 1815?
Although Ascension was discovered in 1501 by Portuguese seafarer Alfonso d’Albuquerque, its real story begins in 1815, when Napoleon, defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, was exiled to the British island of St Helena. To foil any attempts by the French to release Napoleon from his island prison, it was decided to establish a naval garrison on Ascension, the nearest landfall to St Helena in the vast South Atlantic. On 22 October 1815 HMS Zenobia and sister ship HMS Peruvian arrived at Ascension and dropped anchor in Clarence Bay. We know from the ships’ logs that at 5.30pm Commander Nicholas Charles Dobree of the Zenobia and Captain James Kearney White of the Peruvian came ashore and took possession of the island in the name of King George III. You can find out more about what happened next and how Ascension Island developed and changed over the next 200 years on our History and Heritage pages.