After England’s Victory at The Battle of Waterloo, way back in June 1815 the end of the Napoleonic wars and the demise of the French Empire , the English captured Napoléon and decided to take him prisoner to the nearest English port which happened to be Torquay off the English channel.
The warship HMS Bellerophon arrived in Torquay on the 24th July 1815 and Napoléon commented and commented
“What a beautiful Country”
and that it reminded him of Ferrajo Bay in Elba , where he had been banished to in1814.
After much discussion Bellerophon was finally anchored close to Berry Head Brixham , poor old Napoléon thought he would be allowed to disembark and have a bit of a walkabout and a couple of pints but not a chance , the authorities were convinced that he might do a runner after his previous history of escapes , so he was informed that he would be remaining firmly on board.
News quickly spread around the Southwest of his arrival and overnight he became a massive ‘ have to see” tourist attraction , the Pubs / Inns soon became full ,selling gallon after gallon of fine ales and hearty pasties,while the waters of the bay filled up with little flotillas of boats of all sizes with sightseers giving him gifts of fresh fruit and flowers.
After several days the authorities feared an escape was imminent so pulled anchor and set sail with Napolèon to the secure Naval Docks of Plymouth.
Alas his presence attracted even more sightseers than experienced in Torquay with people ‘ Hell Bent ‘ on seeing the former Emperor , with up to 10,000 visitors per day and elegant ladies dressed in their Sunday best determined to catch a glimpse of the great leader in Plymouth.
Pasties and fine ales were flying out of the Inns and a major decision had to be taken in all the hysteria caused by his presence , it was decided to return Napoléon to Torquay on August 2nd for the safety and well being of all.
Napoléon stayed in the bay for another five nights aboard the Bellerophon to the delight of all the Inns with rooms filling up each night and ale and roasted pigs and chicken were devoured by the masses of people wanting to see The Emperor.
The HMS Northumberland arrived in the bay from Southampton on the 7th of August and Napoléon was transferred from the Bellerophon and transported to St Helena one of the Ascension Islands in the South Atlantic a distance of 6,000 miles , never to return.
He died of stomach cancer 6 years later in St Helena age 51 it’s a great pity he never went on shore in Torquay and had a pie and pint in the Hole in the Wall and a sing song with the famous minstrel Drew Millin on his Lute.