Plymouth in Devon County, England, United Kingdom
Napoleon Bonaparte in Plymouth Sound
Napoleon Bonaparte in Plymouth Sound July 14 to 4 August 1815
Napoleon, Emperor of the French, surrendered to the Royal Navy soon after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Whilst the British authorities were deciding his fate, Napoleon was held aboard HMS Bellerophon in Plymouth Sound for nearly ten days. It was here that he was told he was to be sent into exile to the South Atlantic island of St Helena.
News spread quickly and many people wanted to catch sight of Napoleon, a man that they had been at war with for so many years. Crowds gathered overlooking the Sound. Some hired a boat and rowed out closer. Many Napoleon ‘spotters’ wore their best, presenting a colourful scene. Napoleon could sometimes be seen through his stern cabin window, but it was better still when he made his regular daily appearance on deck.
Visitors travelled from across Devon and Cornwall, with some from as far away as Dorset and even London. The boatmen of Plymouth did a roaring trade. On 30 July 1815, it was claimed that 8,000 people were afloat in the Sound. The only casualty was John Boynes, a stone mason at the Plymouth Dockyard, who drowned in a boat collision.
A Stone with a Story - from Longwood House, St Helena
The nearby commemorative plaque and stone-work was unveiled to mark the 200th
It includes an original block of volcanic building stone from Longwood House, Napoleon's home in exile on the island of St Helena.
This special stone was presented to the City of Plymouth by Alain Sibiril, Honorary Consul of France who obtained the stone from Michel Dancoisne-Martineau in
St Helena as a symbol of peace and friendship between the United Kingdom and France. It was transported across the Atlantic by FN Mistral and across the Channel to Plymouth by the Brittany Ferry Armorique.
Naval Orders on Napoleon's arrival in Plymouth Sound
"The Liffey' and Eurotas' are to take up an anchorage on each side of the 'Bellerophon', at a convenient distance and observe the following directions, as well for the purpose of preventing the escape of Buonaparte or any of his suite, from that ship, and for restraining shore-boats and others from approaching too close to her, either from curiosity or any other motive.
No shore-boats, or others, are to be suffered, either by night or by day, to approach nearer the 'Bellerophon' than one cable's length [c.600ft/180m]; and no boats are to be permitted to loiter about the ship, even at that distance, either from curiosity or any other motive.."
Admiral Lord Keith, Commander in Chief, Channel Fleet, Plymouth
Midshipman George Home sets the scene
"The Sound was literally covered with boats; the weather was delightful; the ladies looked as gay as butterflies; bands of music in several of the boats played favourite French airs, to attract, if possible, the Emperor's attention, that they might get a sight of him, which, when effected, they went off, blessing themselves that they had been so fortunate.
Memoirs of an Aristocrat, and Reminiscences of the Emperor Napoleon.
By a Midshipman of the Bellerophon (1838)
‘What the paper said’
"On Sunday [30 July], we regret to say, a large portion of the spectators not only took off their hats but cheered him apparently with the view of soothing his fallen fortunes, and treating him with respect and consideration."
'Plymouth and Dock Telegraph', Saturday 5 August 1815
Credits and Contacts:
Plymouth City Council
Text and Image - Arts and Heritage
Design - Corporate Communications
Location. 50° 21.796′ N, 4° 8.235′ W. Marker is in Plymouth, England, in Devon County. Marker is at the intersection of Madeira Road and Hoe Road, on the right when traveling east on Madeira Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Plymouth, England PL1 2JU, United Kingdom.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1815 – 2015 (here, next to this marker); Ships’ Cannon (about 180 meters away, measured in a direct line); The Laboratory on the Hoe (about 240 meters away); Royal Marines Memorial (approx. 0.2 kilometers away); Way of Saint James (approx. 0.2 kilometers away); a different marker also named The Laboratory on the Hoe (approx. 0.3 kilometers away); a different marker also named The Laboratory on the Hoe (approx. 0.3 kilometers away); Plymouth Royal Citadel (approx. 0.3 kilometers away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Plymouth.
Categories. • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 26, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 26, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 50 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 26, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.