As the 18th century became the 19th the whole country was focussed on repelling the empire building ambitions of Napoleon Bonaparte. There was constant anxiety over the possibility of invasion, strangers were suspected of being spies or saboteurs, plots and intrigue were rife, huge resources were diverted to the Royal Navy and their warships - the pinnacle of fighting power afloat - blockaded the French fleet in their harbours. Huge armies marched across the plains of Europe and history was in flux.
After many victories, Napoleon suffered huge losses in his Grande Armée during the ill-fated campaign into Russia in 1812. This weakened his position and strengthened the Allies against him and in March 1814 Paris fell.
In the Treaty of Fontainebleau Napoleon was exiled to Elba, a small island in the Mediterranean 20 km off the coast of Italy. A monument just outside Kendal still commemorates these great international events.
The exiling of Napoleon so pleased James Bateman of Tolson Hall, near Burneside, that he had a large obelisk erected forthwith on a hill at Toadpool. It was his intention to embellish it with a plaque in praise of the current Prime Minister, William Pitt, but Napoleon’s subsequent escape from Elba put a stop to that. (Waterloo and St Helena finally stopped Napoleon.) One hundred years later, in 1914 as Europe once again descended into war, Charles Cropper added the plaque which is there to this day and reads:
In honour of William Pitt.
“The Pilot who weathered the storm.”
This is an easy roadside cache at a spot on the old road overlooking the Elba memorial - as near as one can get to it. The cache is NOT in the wall or the field. Further south along the road, after the farm, is a seat with a nice view over Kendal.