Government House consisted originally of a wooden hut covered with palm tree leaves. Part of the building was constructed during the governorship of Nicolas de Maupin (1729-1735) and enlarged in 1738 by Labourdonnais when it was officially called the Hotel du Gouvernement. The first British governor, Robert Townsend Farquhar, extended it still further. Today it is the official centre of government  although parliamentary issues are debated in the modern Legislative Assembly Chamber behind it. In the courtyard is a statue of Queen Victoria which in summer time is shaded by the crimson blooms of  a flamboyant tree. Beyond it is the statue of William Stevenson, who was the British governor of Mauritius from 1857 to 1863. The wrought iron gates in from of Government House remain closed except on official occasions such as the opening of parliament. The interior is not open to the public.