Pierre Félix Barthelemy David, successor of Bertrand Mahé de Labourdonnais, took office as Governor of the Isle de France on the 8th of October 1746 at a time of strong Anglo-French rivalry for colonial possessions.
It was therefore appropriate that his main preoccupation was to take measures to fortify the island against enemy attack. In a letter dated 28th of March 1748, addressed to the management of the "Compagnie des Indes", he expressed his fears and anxiety to find a place in the interior of the island where access would be difficult and where a fortress could be built. This would facilitate the protection of women and valuables and also check the progress of the enemy.
The Governor initiated immediate action prior to receiving a reply from the authorities as he considered it necessary for the works to be completed expediently. David settled on an ideal site for his fortress - a spur in the Moka Range, triangular in shape between steep gorges of the rivers Profonde and Cascade.
However in July 1748, an English vice-admiral by the name of Edward Boscawen, commanding an English fleet, approached the island carrying orders to take possession of it. In the event, he retreated in the wake of the French canons situated at Petite Rivière. The French Company made aware of this attack, finally authorised David's project, insisting that strict economy should be observed. Under the personal involvement of David, his "Le Réduit" was completed in 1749. It was a small fortress with battlements and a drawbridge.
It is interesting to note that in 1754, one of the directors of the "Compagnie des Indes", Mr. Godeheu d'Igoville had strong doubts that Le Réduit would be able to withstand sustained attacks, although he admired David's work. This opinion was also shared by many other distinguished personalities, among others, the Governor René Magon de la Ville Bague (1756). On the other hand, no less notable persons agreed with David's concept, among them the Governor Malartic (1792) and Sir Charles Colville (1838).
In 1749, Le Réduit was situated in spacious ground where cotton was planted by David. However, it was under the administration of his successor, Jean Baptiste Charles de Lozier-Bouvet, that a botanist Jean-Baptiste Christophe Fusée-Aublet created the French garden which became the pride and glory of Le Réduit and later introduced many rare plants from America, Asia and Europe. Pepper plants and cinnamon-trees were added by Antoine Marie Desforges-Boucher, last governor of the "Compagnie des Indes".
The Island became the property of France in 1764 and Le Réduit became the official residence of the governors, the first of whom was Jean Daniel Dumas. Despite many modifications made during the period 1764-1778 the Château was in ruins in 1778 due to the action of white ants.
Antoine de Guiran La Brillane, the then governor, commenced reconstruction which was completed the same year. A year later, on the 28th April 1779, La Brillane passed away in Le Réduit. An inscription dated 1778 on the main door commemorates the reconstruction.
Under the British rule, many modifications were brought to the Château which required extensive repairs following damages caused to it by the cyclones of 1868 and 1892. It is worth mentioning, that the Château was saved from complete destruction during the cyclone 1892 by the efforts of Governor Sir Henry Jerningham and his assistants.
Successive French Governors followed La Brillane until 1810, when the English took possession of the island. The last French Governor was Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen. Under British rule the name of the island was restored to Mauritius and the First English Governor was Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar. He paid particular attention to the gardens of Le Réduit and recruited a gardener from England to help Jaunet, the horticulturist in charge. Under the auspices of Sir Robert, two distinguished botanists, Boyer and Helsenberg, explored Madagascar and the African coasts in search of rare plants for the gardens.
Sir Hesketh Bell, years later, was also known to have taken keen interest in the gardens of Le Réduit. He created an islet in the middle of the lake, linked to the edge by a rustic bridge. He also installed a fountain on the north side of the Château. Additionally he introduced many varieties of decorative plants from Kew Gardens, London, and other plants from Ceylon.
In 1921, wishing to make a grand gesture to the creator of Le Réduit and linked with his own passions for the Gardens, he constructed a memorial named "Le Temple de l'Amour" in David's memory. This is situated near the ornamental lake at the end of the garden called "Bout du Monde" - from where one can see below the confluence of the rivers Profonde and Cascade.
There is a marble inscription on the floor of the memorial which reads
M. BARTHELEMY DAVID
Gouverneur de l'Isle de France 1746
the creator of Le Réduit
his Grateful Successors
On the 12th March 1968, Mauritius achieved independence and Sir John Shaw Rennie, G.C.M.G., O.B.E., became the first Governor-General.
On the 3rd of September 1968, Sir Arthur Leonard Williams, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., succeeded Sir John. Sir Arthur dies on the 27th of December 1972 and was buried in the cemetery of St. John, situated in the proximity of the Château.
In 1972, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 appointed Sir Raman Osman, G.C.M.G., C.B.E. as the first Mauritian Governor-General. Sir Raman retired on the 31st of October, 1977.
Since this date, the office of Governor-General was held in an acting capacity by His Excellency Sir Henry Garrioch, formerly Chief Justice and subsequently as by His Excellency Sir Dayendranath Burrenchobay, K.B.E., C.M.G., C.V.O., Head of the Civil Service in March 1978, by H.E. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, K.C.M.G., G.C.M.G., P.C. in December 1983 and by Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo, G.C.M.G., Q.C., in January 1986.