Saint Helena was formerly claimed by the Dutch Republic in 1633, although it had been visited earlier by other Europeans including the British, Portuguese and Spanish. In 1657 the British East India Company was granted a charter to govern the Island and it became an important port of call for ships on the way to and from India.
Between 1815 and 1821 the Island was used as a prison for Napoleon Bonaparte and it is during this time that many coastal batteries were built.
In 1833 control of Saint Helena passed from the East India Company to the British Crown and in 1840 a naval station was established for the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy that was then engaged on anti-slavery patrols off the west coast of Africa. The importance of St Helena as a Naval Base was enhanced with the introduction of steam power for warships with the Island being established as a Coaling Station.
Between 1900 and 1901, some six thousand Boar prisoners captured during the Boar War in South Africa, where held here.
Fortifications, many originally dating back to the Napoleonic era, were built at: