At three in the morning of the 26th of July 1815 Captain Maitland of the Bellerophon received his orders. He was to leave Torbay for Plymouth Sound. They left immediately. It was not a pleasant journey on another windy day in that cold, wet summer. They passed Berry Head and headed south-west passing the estuary of the River Dart and the wide sweep of Slapton Sands towards Start Point and once around the inhospitable southern coast of Devon faced into a strong northerly wind. Despite the weather, Napoleon spent much of the time on deck, observing the country that he knew was to become his home. As they passed the Plymouth Breakwater, at that time still under construction, Maitland reported that Napoleon expressed admiration at the men who could approve and finance such an undertaking.
Those who did not know Napoleon’s plans believed that this move from Torbay to Plymouth, a port more remote from London, meant that the newspaper reports of exile to St Helena were accurate and were dismayed.
Those who did know his plans knew the true reasons for this move to Plymouth.
In the shallow waters of Torbay there had been no way to prevent the masses of sight seers’ boats from crowding The Bellerophon. Under those circumstances it had proved impossible for Bernard Lacey to come and go as he needed to. It was believed that in the deep water harbour of Plymouth it would be possible to keep the ship secure from unwanted attention. This, however, proved impossible and for the twelve days it took for the politicians to confirm what was to be done with Bonaparte, and for Lacey’s plan to be agreed upon, the Bellerophon was the subject of intense interest to men, and especially women, from all levels of society.
Lacey, however, was an ingenious man and found a way to, eventually, make the switch successfully and the government cover up detailed in A Set of Lies could begin.