William Balcombe was born in Rottingdean in 1777. On 18th October 1815, he received the fallen Emperor, Napoleon I into his home. Not in Rottingdean but on the bleak island of St Helena in the middle of the Atlantic. Not in a grand mansion but in his simple colonial villa, The Briars. And not even in the villa itself. Napoleon opted for an outbuilding. The great man did not want to inconvenience his gout-ridden host’s wife and children.