My in-laws live in a village which holds a scarecrow competition each year. This year the girls and I thought we’d help out and make our own for them. For those unfamiliar with this kind of competition – see this example. Bad puns for the scarecrows are a feature of this kind of festival. The theme for the scarecrow contest this year was “Best of British”.
We elected to help out the in-laws and create this year’s scarecrows. My wife and daughter thought they might create Queen Vicstrawia in her iconic seated pose from late in her reign. I immediately suggested she needed a military escort, her very own GrainadierGuard!
Luckily, I managed to pick up a child’s Guardsman costume for only £5. Dating from the 1960s, it’s in perfect condition and is fabulously well made using quality materials (no plastic buttons here – metal only).
There’s some nice detailing on the back too…
First off, I needed to make a head. So a bit of papier-mâché, using a balloon as a template, I hoped would do the trick. Not done this before and my first attempt was a bit of a let down – literally! The balloon had a slow puncture and gradually went down leaving the head ended up all shrunken and wrinkled…
My second attempt came good. Getting into my papier-mâché stride, I added a rudimentary nose, brows and ears…
I slapped on a little poster paint and then started to think about hair. A trip into town to the charity shops allows me to track down some cheap, black felt material from a rags bin. I also find a thin, feathery, black boa which will do for facial hair. Et voila, we have a guardsman’s face!
I see my scaling for the head has – ah – somewhat overestimated the much smaller bearskin! Never mind, I’m pleased with it and ‘comical’ is what I’m after. But now I’ve got to somehow attach that head to the body… but before that I’ve also got to create and stuff the arms and legs… and then the whole thing will need to magically stand to attention!
This scarecrow building is harder than I thought it would be. Wish me luck!
When it comes to a hobby, pleasure should be the guiding principle. My head has been telling me to do something a little different from Napoleonic-era cavalry figures. My heart, however, simply loves to paint them! And there are seldom more pleasing uniforms to paint than hussars.
So far in my Napoleonic Cavalry Project I’ve painted;
So, at the risk of boring everybody, I’m painting some more!
The set I’m using is an old classic; Italeri’s British Light Dragoons (Hussars). It’s a set of lovely figures, the old Esci sculptor beautifully detailing the flowing pelisses and intricate braiding. It was originally released by Esci in 1985 very specifically labelled as being Lord Cardigan’s 11th Hussars of the Crimean War. It was then reissued with a couple of extra poses the following year as being British Light Dragoons of the Napoleonic Wars/Waterloo! These two sets were both reissued by Italeri when they took over the rights to the moulds on Esci’s sad demise around 1990.
It is appropriate that the first British hussars in my project have come along quite late as the British army was itself slow to adopt hussars into their cavalry arm. Some continental armies had a hussar tradition going back to the late 17th century, but Great Britain only began to convert light dragoons to hussars in the early 19th century. That reluctance can be seen in the official name of the British hussar regiments. At the time of Waterloo, all were formally still known as Light Dragoons with the word “hussars” being almost a grudging adjunct in parentheses.
At Waterloo, there were four British hussar regiments (not including the King’s German Legion’s three hussar regiments also present) and these were;
The 7th (The Queen’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
The 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
The 15th (The King’s) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
The 18th (King’s Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
Excepting the 10th Hussars which wore bright red shakos, these Italeri figures could stand for any of the other three (although the 15th I think may have had shakos too). I’ve opted for the 18th Hussars.
The 18th Hussars wore blue dolmans with white braiding, faced with white. Their Pelisses were also blue and white braid with white fur trim. Their brown fur busbies had a bright blue bag. It is on the horses that Italeri widely deviate from historical fact. Hussars during this period had fur saddle covers with hounds teeth edging but my regiment must have sent all theirs to be cleaned.
I’m well advanced with this set already so will be sure to share my handiwork shortly.
Ever since picking up this box of figures, I’ve had the name of a song, “The Faithful Hussar”, going around my head but had no idea of the melody or even where I’d heard it. Google put me out of my confusion; it was used as the moving end scene in the classic anti-war film “Paths of Glory”. I’d seen it recently and the final scene is always moving. A captive German lady (herself a German actress who married the film’s director Stanley Kubrick) silences the baying French Poilu and reduces them to tears with her timid and tender song “The Faithful Hussar“.
For some time, I’ve had my eye on acquiring one of the many Victorian newspaper illustrations of rifle volunteers from the movement’s heyday in the 1860s through to the end of the century. It was an abstract concept until Mark from Man of Tin drew my attention to such a print on display over his painting desk. It looked so good that it convinced me to do likewise.
The image I’ve chosen featured in a recent post and is taken from The Illustrated London News, September 1963. The caption reads: Review of the Norfolk Volunteers on Mousehold Heath: Lady Suffield presenting the prizes won at the Norfolk Rifle Association meeting.
I chose this one because of my interest in military volunteers from Norfolk, being a county I lived in years ago. What’s more, the illustration is a good scene of Victorian volunteer soldiery together with depictions of men and women of the local community taking a keen interest in proceedings. The dark-coated men lined up are from the local Volunteer Rifle Corps.
To either side are the mounted Norfolk Light Horse in their scarlet coats, wearing black dragoon helmets with falling white plumes, a force which I posted about earlier this year. This short-lived formation were attached to the local rifle corps. Other mounted military men in the distance appear to be officers wearing a variety of headdress and I can even make out a hussar.
The mounted man in the foreground appears to be an infantry or militia officer.
In the centre with the cocked hat could even be the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk which at the time of this event would have been Thomas Coke’s son**.
And so, the artistic militarisation of my household walls continues…
KAMAR of Germany supply a great range of 1:72 scale figures including their own range of figures ranging from the Viking era to WWII. They also stock other manufacturers including Phersu’s ancients and Stenfalk’s magnificent animal range, to name but two. From KAMAR, I ordered this small group of four 1815 Dutch Carabiniers in metal, thinking, that despite their small number, they might make for a pleasing and unusual addition to the Nappy Cavalry Project.
These figures are supposed to depict the Dutch Carabiniers dating specifically from 1815, referring to their part in the 100 Days campaign and the battle of Waterloo. They were part of Tripp’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo which consisted of three regiments from the Netherlands:
1st Dutch Carabiniers (pink facings and red turnbacks)
2nd Belgian Carabiniers (red facings)
3rd Dutch Carabiniers (yellow facings)
I’ve elected to represent the 1st regiment which wore the unusual pink facings. Across the internet, it appears that there is some confusion over the headdress worn by these Dutch Carabiniers during the Waterloo campaign. It seems that most sources depict both the 1st and 3rd Dutch Carabiniers wearing bicornes whilst their Belgian comrades in the 2nd Belgian Carabiniers wore steel dragoon helmets.
In my copy of the ever-reliable The Waterloo Companion, however, Mark Adkin actually has the 1st Dutch Carabiniers wearing the steel helmet and this is further depicted in one the book’s plates.
Eventually, I discovered a comment from a blogger which might offer an explanation for all the confusion. This blogger suggests that;
“…the uniform with the bicorne and long tailed and lapeled coat was prescribed by the Souvereign Order of 31st December 1813. The regulations of 9 January 1815 ordered a short tailed single breasted coatee and the Belgian (steel) helmet. They were to be fully implemented on 1st May 1816. So both regiments went to war in 1815 in the old uniforms.”
So, it’s probable that KAMAR’s figures are suitable for Waterloo. Incidentally, the Italian manufacturer, Waterloo 1815, have produced a set of 6 metal / resin Belgian Carabiniers with steel helmets and which would compliment my Dutchmen very nicely. Well, I suppose I might consider a purchase…
There’s plenty of colour to paint in this regiment; pink, blue, red and white and you may also notice that these troops wear an orange cockade in their bicornes, in recognition of the Dutch Royal House. I think the most pleasing aspects of the figures is their relaxed state, swords drawn but otherwise passive with their standing horses nonetheless looking pleasingly animated and alive.
To conclude, some pictures of my first metal figures in the 1:72 scale Napoleonic Cavalry Project, followed by a brief regimental biography:
Regimental Biography: The 1st Dutch Carabiniers and Waterloo
During the Waterloo Campaign, the 1st Dutch Carabiniers were part of the Dutch Heavy Cavalry Brigade under Maj-General Tripp. The regiment numbered 446 sabres across 3 squadrons and in command was Lt-Col Coenegracht.
They were initially held in reserve behind Wellington’s centre. However, after the Household Brigade had been badly mauled in their epic counter-charge against the main French infantry assault, Tripp’s heavy cavalry became the only intact heavy cavalry formation left to Wellington. Consequently, they were heavily engaged against the French Cavalry for the remainder of the afternoon.
The Dutch Carabiniers initially counter-charged the French Cuirassiers which had been pursuing the remnants of the Household Brigade. A fierce melee ensued until the French were forced to withdraw.
As the battle continued, the 1st Dutch Carabiniers were called upon to counterattack on a number of occasions costing them 102 casualties (25% of the regiment) including a number of their senior officers including Lt.Col. Coenegracht himself, who was mortally wounded.
A flavour of the exhausting and bloody nature of the fighting experienced by the 1st Dutch Carabiniers at Waterloo can be gleaned from this quote by Maj-General Jonkheer (respectfully reproduced from the brilliant General Picton blog):
“After resting in this position, I noticed enemy’s cuirassiers which were advancing to charge the English squares. I saw a perfect moment to charge the enemy and ordered the 1st Regiment of Carabiniers attack the enemy as they were disordered around the squares. After the charge there were numerous enemies dead and wounded left on the ground. At the moment when the 1st Regiment rallied, the enemy sent in a second charge, in this action there were more than one French cuirassier regiment. These were equally repulsed by the 2nd and 3rd Regiment, many cuirassiers were left in our hands.”
It is early October in the year 1798. Leaves have started to fall in the grounds of Holkham Hall in Norfolk and a mild autumnal day is ahead. If we gaze out of the windows of the majestic stately home, we shall see that the south lawn of the estate today presents an extraordinary scene; for drawn up before us are 100 horsemen of the newly raised Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry. From across the lawn comes the sound of jangling tack and the cries of horses, punctuated by occasional shouts of military instruction. From our vantage point by the window, we can clearly make out the elegant red dress of Mrs Coke. Suddenly, an officer rides up to her and dips his sabre in salute. In her hand she holds out to him what appears to be a richly decorated standard…
In recent weeks I finished painting my version of the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry, a local troop of horsemen raised by Thomas Coke of Holkham Hall, Norfolk during the French Revolutionary wars. Further information on this topic, can be found in previous posts:
Interestingly, the provincial paper, the Norwich Mercury, recorded the moment that the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry’s standard was first bestowed upon the new troop. The correspondent recorded that, on October 6th, 1798:
“The two troops of Holkham volunteer cavalry, commanded by Major Coke, received their standard from the hands of Mrs. Coke. At eleven in the morning the troops, proceeded to the chapel, where the standard was consecrated by the Rev Henry Crowe.”
The account continues:
“At twelve o’clock the troops were drawn up on the South lawn, within a short distance of the house, when with some ceremony, the standard was given into the hands of Captain Edmund Rolfe. After the ceremony, the troops were entertained by their commanding officer, Major Coke, in Holkham House.” From “Records of the NYC”.
Thanks to the keen eye of Mark at Man of Tin blog, I managed to source some metal 1:72-scale Georgian-era civilians from KAMAR, a German manufacturer of excellent military figures. These figures have helped me recreate the scene and you will note that my troop of Holkham Yeomanry have arrived in force also:
List of local dignitaries at Holkham Hall:
I’d like to introduce some of the local dignitaries attending the presentation, beginning with the host and Major Commandant of the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry:
Mr Thomas William Coke of Holkham
In 1798, Thomas Coke had fallen significantly out of favour with His Majesty King George III. He had been a vocal supporter of both the rebelling American colonists and also the French Revolutionaries, eventually feeling forced to repudiate the allegation of being an outright republican. A man of the ploughshare and not the sword by nature, Coke even initially opposed the establishment of local yeomanry forces in 1793.
By 1798, he felt moved to raise his own yeomanry force in the district of Holkham; ‘ eager to show my zeal in defence of my King and Country at this alarming crisis… ‘ and was petitioning the Prince of Wales for permission to base its uniform upon the Prince’s own 10th Light Dragoons. Coke was appointed to the rank of Major-Commandant of the HYC on the 19th July 1798.
On the 6th day of October 1798, the newly formed and trained Holkham yeomanry were to receive their standard in the grounds of Holkham Hall. For the purposes of my scene, I have chosen to depict Coke acting in his role strictly as host at Holkham Hall and dressed in civilian attire. Perhaps there’s even a very vague passing resemblance? It is quite possible that he would have been dressed in his military uniform, I suppose, but on such an occasion but I wanted to reproduce something of the man, and the agriculturalist, I’ve seen in a number of portraits.
Mrs Jane Coke (neé Dutton)
Mrs Coke, far from being a passive wife was, like her husband, a committed abolitionist and keen supporter of social welfare. At the time of the presentation in October 1798, Jane had been married to Thomas Coke (apparently for love) for nearly 23 years. She had born him three daughters: the eldest, Jane (21), being already married; Anne Margaret (19) the middle daughter; and the youngest, Elizabeth, who was only 3 years old.
For Mrs Coke’s figure, I’ve dressed her in a dark red dress, hopefully referencing the dress seen in her portrait, below right. I’ve even reproduced the white flower and leaves pinned as a brooch that she wears.
Jane died tragically at 47 years old, just 18 months after performing her essential role in the presentation ceremony. Her portrait now appears up on the wall in the Manuscript library (seen above) alongside that of her husband. Jane’s face is now seemingly forever gazing across to the standard which she had bestowed upon the regiment just months before her untimely death. I confess that I appear to have made the replica standard a tad larger in proportion than in reality…
Lady Jane Elizabeth Howard (neé Coke)
The eldest daughter of Thomas Coke and “a renowned beauty” according to Wikipedia. By the time of the presentation of the Holkham Yeomanry’s standard, 21 year old Lady Jane had been married for two years to Charles Nevinson Howard, styled as Viscount Andover.
Only 15 months later, her husband Charles was to be killed in a tragic shooting accident, the consequence of an ‘accidental discharge of his fowling piece’. They had no children.
Jane was to remarry 6 years later, having this time a more lasting union to Admiral Sir Henry Digby, a veteran of the battle of Trafalgar. This marriage gave rise to 3 children. Interestingly, their daughter, also called Jane, grew up to be a ‘scandalous adventuress” and her story is an astonishing one in its own right!
Charles Nevinson Howard, Viscount Andover
Charles Nevinson Howard, in the peerage known as Viscount Andover, was 22 years old at the time of our presentation. The son of the 15th Earl of Suffolk, he had married Coke’s eldest daughter, Lady Jane Coke, on 21 June 1796.
The site of the Holkham Yeomanry presentation was to prove to be also the place where he was to die a mere 15 months later. The estate was designed explicitly for the hunting of game and on the 11 January 1800, aged just 24, Viscount Andover was killed by the accidental discharge of his gun whilst out shooting in the grounds of Holkham Hall.
A reporter from ‘The Mercury’
One of my remaining figures I’ve fancied to be the reporter from The Mercury, the provincial newspaper which happily covered the event in such detail.
You will not that our correspondent’s top hat is cream coloured, the inspiration being a character I found in a satirical print on Thomas Coke dating from 1821.
Finally, one last local dignitary is included in my scene. In one hand, he holds a green bottle which we might imagine contains some port. In the other hand, he raises a glass, no doubt toasting to the future success of the newly-formed Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry! And to that we all give three hearty cheers!
And just to conclude this project, I’ve taken some more shots of men of the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry drilling and manoeuvring with the entirely appropriate and glorious spectacle of Holkham Hall in the distance. Please note that any feint impression of tall obelisk in the distance that you may spot is a figment of your imagination, as clearly such an edifice would not have been built for another 50 years…
“The Durham Light Infantry was formed by the linking of the ’68th Foot or Durham Regiment’ with the 106th Bombay Light Infantry in 1881. The 68th Foot became a Light Infantry Corps in 1808. The drawing portrays a Private of the 68th in 1846.”
Number 11 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).
There’s a documentary TV series running on the BBC which features the work of the Household Cavalry. On a very recent episode, the cavalry (horses and soldiers both) were shown on their annual summer camp. Once a year, over 100 men and horses head off to Norfolk to undergo training including a ride over Holkham beach, plunging into and out of the surf.
This is all happening just a stone’s throw from Holkham Hall where, nearly 221 years ago, the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry were first raised by Thomas Coke from amongst local volunteers. Surprisingly, it seems the mounted cavalry tradition continues in Holkham right up to this day!
Whereas the Household Cavalry are regulars, Coke’s Holkham Yeomanry were part-timers, local men to the area and were equipped by the wealthy Coke with some assistance from the government with its military supplies.
Research has led me to believe they would have looked similar to the 10th Light Dragoons, Coke having petitioned the Prince of Wales (the regiment’s honorary colonel) to adopt the same colours. Two sergeants of the 10th were ordered up by the Prince of Wales to train the troop in the standards of the British army’s light cavalry drill.
My Holkham Yeomanry’s uniform consists of:
blue jacket with white edging
pale yellow facings
white braid (white-silver for officers)
tarleton helmet with a black turban and silver chains
brass chain wing shoulder scales
For added decoration, I painted on to the figures some brass chain wings on the shoulders rather than going with the sculpted straps. It’s a style I’ve seen on other yeomanry troops of this era, including the Sussex and Warwickshire cavalry.
I spent a little time on the helmets to include a brass rim around the peaks and also silver chains holding the turban in place, not included by the sculptor.
In my previous post on the horses, I mentioned the pale yellow shabraques including a device in the corners with a black shape on a red background to indicate the ostrich device seen on the Holkham Yeomanry’s standard on display in Holkham Hall.
I’ve extended this theme for the officer’s sabretaches – being a yellow background, edged with red, with a central device in the centre and a gold crown above (not seen in these photographs but since corrected!). Three black dots to the side and below indicate the H, Y and C initials of the troop.
For the officers, they have a crimson sash around the waist and a little extra braiding which I added to create some ornate Austrian knot cuffs. To better differentiate the two figures, I’ve given one a twist of the head and arm. I’ve also provided him with greying hair thinking he could serve as the middle-aged Thomas Coke (the same age as yours truly – there’s time to raise my own regiment yet…). Instead, I have other plans for Coke and will perhaps instead nominate the figure to be his Troop’s 2nd-in-command, Captain Edmund Rolfe;
The other officer I propose to be Lieutenant George Hogg;
For the trumpeter figure, I’ve kept it simple. No fancy trumpet cords, just the brass instrument itself. Also, no expensive uniform in reverse colours or bandsman’s epaulettes; just the grey horse distinctive to all cavalry trumpeters.
With my men and horses now painted. There is one more element to my Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry project still to come: a recreation of a scene reported on by the local paper where the standard was presented to the troop by the lady of Holkham Hall, Mrs Jane Coke. I’ve now ordered my chosen figures for this scene and am awaiting delivery…
Just leaves me to conclude with a gallery of some more pics of the troop (click to ’embiggen’), followed by a brief regimental history.
Biography: The Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry [Great Britain]
Raised by Thomas Coke of Holkham Hall after petitioning the Prince of Wales in May 1798.
Coke appointed Commandant, 19th July 1798.
The HYC receive their standard on the south lawn of Holkham Hall, 6th October 1798.
Initially consisted of 2 troops numbering approx 50 men each.
Officers consist of Major Commandant Thomas William Coke; Captain Edmund Rolfe; Lieuts. George Hogg and Martin Folkes-Riston; Cornets Jason Gardner-Bloom and John Ward.
Briefly disbanded in 1802 (following the Peace of Amiens) but re-raised again the following year.
Attached to the 1st Regiment of the newly organised Norfolk Yeomanry together with the Norfolk Rangers, the Lynn & Freebridge, the Smithdon & Brothercross, and the Marshland Troops.
The whole regiment later adopts the Norfolk Rangers’ uniform (green jackets).
Disbanded for good, 1828.
The links below to my previous posts also provide further information: :
I had the somewhat unexpected pleasure back in 2017 of being able to pay a visit to the city of Chester and I made sure to pay a visit the city’s military museum which is set in the grounds of Chester Castle.
Entry costs £4.00 at time of writing (£2.00 concession) and the museum is dedicated to:
The Cheshire Regiment (The 22nd Foot)
The Cheshire Yeomanry and other local volunteers
It also includes representative collections of the 3rd Carabiniers (formerly the 3rd and 6th Dragoon Guards) and the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (formerly the 5th Dragoon Guards and 6th Inniskilling Dragoons).
I can vouch that it was a magnificent museum with some very helpful and friendly staff, many of whom were officer cadets from the local school. One of the first exhibits to capture my attention on entry was the oldest uniform in the collection, that of a Napoleonic-era officer of the local militia, hopefully just visible in the photo below through the glare on the glass case. The officer wears a black bicorn hat. A metal gorget, a sign of his rank, hangs just below his neckstock.
For those, like myself, with a particular interest in headdress, yeomanry and drum banners, the next room had some very pleasing artefacts. From the regular cavalry, there were a number of metal dragoon helmets from across the four dragoon and dragoon guards regiments, sporting different styles of plate and colours of plumes.
These helmets shown above were:
Black plume – 1847-71 gilt brass Albert pattern helmet of the 6th DG (The Carabiniers). It has richly decorated peaks, a badge featuring a diamond cut silver star on a shield and a garter with “The Carabiniers” under a crown.
White over red plume – post-1871 pattern helmet of the 5th DG.
White plume – 6th DG, post-1871 pattern officer’s helmet.
Animal Crest, facing camera – 3rd DG. An officer’s helmet with a richly ornamented and detailed front plate including the regimental name. Undated but it appears to be the 1834-43 pattern brass helmet. The crest bears a detachable lion’s head which could be replaced by a black bearskin crest instead.
Black over red plume – 3rd DG. Labelled as being c.1834-1843, but seems clear that this officer’s helmet is more likely post 1871? Missing chinscales.
Animal crest, side view – 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, another c.1834-1843 helmet. A scroll reads “Waterloo”, their battle honour, across the front of the helmet.
The 6th DG helmet with the white plume above can be seen below in an illustration of an 1888 Carabinier officer from “Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”, a trade card set issued by Badshah Tea in 1963.
Amongst the very many interesting items nestled around the museum was this decorative Crimean War bible taken from Sevastopol by men of the 5th Dragoon Guards, a regiment which took part in the Heavy Brigade’s charge at Balaclava. Coincidentally, I modelled something very similar recently, a bible carrying Russian soldier, as part of my Crimean War Russian personalities.
Turning my attention now to the infantry, a key battle in the history of the Cheshire Regiment was the Battle of Meeanee, fought during a campaign in which Maj-Gen Napier’s army controversially captured the province of Sindh from its Amirs. This gave rise to the apochryphal claim that Napier announced his conquest in a telegram with a glib Latin declaration – “Peccavi” (i.e. ‘I have sinned / Sindh’). During the key battle, the East India Company’s Bombay army of 2,500, with included The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, soundly defeated 30,000 Baluchis. The display related to this action was very impressive and included a really impressive diorama of the battle (below)…
…and also a couple of imposing life-sized manikins placed mid-combat!
As can be seen above, a large canvas depicting the height of the battle by artist George Jones was on display and an equally massive poster was available in the shop which I duly purchased (at less than half price) far, far more in hope than any expectation of ever being able to display it somewhere in the family home!
For me, a bonus for any regimental museum visit is the inclusion of anything relating to military bands, so it was good to see a kind of separate alcove dedicated to it, as well as drum banners framed high up on the wall in another room. Sadly, I was unable to locate the Cheshire Yeomanry’s own drum banners:
…but I believe these antique-looking ones on display below related to the 5th (Princess Charlotte’s) Dragoon Guards. If so, the scroll at the top, just below the crown, therefore reads Vestigia nulla restorsum (“we do not retreat”)!
The bands display case I mentioned further on in the museum held instruments and allowed visitors to listen to a recording of the ’22nd Regiment Slow March’, a spirited tune written for the 22nd Regiment by its first bandmaster, a Captain R. Lindsay, performed below the 1st Battalion of the 22nd Cheshire Regiment.
The Rifle Volunteers:
Following my visit to Chester in 2017, I was inspired to create some figures of the 1st Cheshire Rifle Volunteer Corps aka The Cheshire Greys.
My Rifle Volunteer project owed a lot to my visit to the Cheshire Military Museum. Relevant exhibits included informational displays, grey cloth universal helmets, a sergeant’s tunic and an officer’s tunic. Other rifle volunteer corps (often wearing different colours) from across the same county also were represented in a great collection.
I’d like to mention a fascinating information board written by a Lance Corporal Hannan which related to the local Railway Volunteer Corps. The area was a crucial part of the 19th Century railway industry and it’s locomotive works provided many boilermen, steelmen, clerks and engineers to the newly developing Rifle Volunteer movement in 1859. Consequently, the 2nd Cheshire Royal Engineers (Railway) Volunteer Corps was born, suffering it seems at the time only from a surfeit of quality engineers applying! They served in the Anglo-Boer War, the British army making use of their great skills, but lost a number of men to disease and in action. They disbanded in 1912.
The Cheshire Yeomanry:
The painting below was displayed high up on a wall showing an officer of the Cheshire Yeomanry of the 1830s. The regiment appears to be wearing a dark blue hussar dolman with red facings and a pelisse lined with black fur. Grey overalls with a red stripe can be seen astride a black sheepskin / blue shabraque.
On his head is a black shako with a prominent white Maltese cross and plume. W.Y. Carman’s ‘Yeomanry Headdress’ tells me; “The Stockport Troop became hussars in 1823 but continued to wear the broad-topped shako with a white metal Maltese Cross plate in front and a long white plume rising from a red base.”
So, I guess from that description that this picture depicts the Stockport Troop. Lined up in the distance on the far right can be seen the rest of the regiment. In the distance to the left can be just made out a trumpeter on a skewbald grey with what appears to be a white sheepskin, red shako and red shabraque.
Also secreted high up on the wall was this guidon of the King’s Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry (K.C.Y.C.). The regiment’s origins go back to 1797 and after various name changes became known as The Earl of Chester’s Yeomanry in 1849. The guidon above doesn’t incorporate the Prince’s feathers so I suppose must pre-date the adoption of this association.
Other later artefacts however did include the three feathers, including sabretaches, pouch belts and a wonderful officer’s black Albert shako with black feather plume. The Maltese cross badge seen in the painting above has now been replaced by the Prince of Wales feathers with “an elaborate floral wreath with Victorian crown on top. Silver oak leaves encircling the top and the officer’s peak stitched with silver wire. A drooping cocktail plume was worn in front.” (Carman)
In the early part of the 19th century, the Cheshire Yeomanry was often called out to deal with industrial unrest in the manufacturing towns of the area. Alongside regular troops, and the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, the Cheshire Yeomanry were directly involved in the most infamous incident in yeomanry history; the Peterloo Massacre. It was an incident which any yeomanry regiment would probably prefer to be distanced from and sees its bicentennial in August this year. The Manchester and Salford Yeomanry – more directly implicated in the shameful action – disbanded five years later, but the Cheshire Yeomanry endured.
The regiment’s uniforms in the museum appeared to be consistently a dark blue light dragoon or hussar pattern with red facings and by the end of the century hussar dress had been adopted with busbies. This headdress developed in an atypical manner according to the Uniformology website which says this:
There was little change until the late 1880s when an unusual pattern of hussar busby was adopted. This was modelled on the German version taken into use after the Franco-Prussian War. It was shorter than the British pattern with a white small bag on the right (the opposite side to the standard German one).
The busbies could be found around the museum, the difference in height can be seen below (notwithstanding the glass reflection) between the later trooper’s busby being taller with a white bag and the surprisingly squat officer’s version with feather plume. A clearer image of that officer’s busby can be seen taken from Carman’s Yeomanry Headdresses book.
The Cheshire Yeomanry was also represented in that previously mentioned display dedicated to regimental bands. I noticed a yeomanry marching bass drum, a trumpet banner and a bandsman’s uniform, but sadly no kettledrums or their banners.
Finally, some images of the now long gone bandsmen themselves, including this photo of the Cheshire Yeomanry’s band…
…and a nice painting of a Cheshire ‘volunteers band’ marching past the Greyhound pub in Altrincham followed, it seems, by a whole troop of well-drilled marching schoolgirls!
Chester was a very nice town to visit, and not just for the Cheshire Military Museum. There was much more to see in the museum which I’ve not even remotely touched upon. It was a really worthwhile visit with plenty of unusual and interesting exhibits, even for those who are not eccentric military history nerds!
About a year ago, I reported on my visit to Holkham Hall in Norfolk and discussed the history of it’s own yeomanry cavalry troop which lasted from 1798 to 1828. After some investigation on the uniform of the Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry in a post earlier this year, I’ve decided to go for it and have a bash at reproducing a vision of this long-forgotten troop in 1/72 scale.
I’m using Strelets British Light Dragoons in Egypt set and have sourced a double 2nd-hand set for less than half the price on eBay. So far, I’ve concentrated on Strelets’ horses which I’ve been previously perhaps a little unfair in describing as over-fed. With some paint on them, they now look muscular rather than portly and I always appreciate the clear, crisp detail provided by these ‘old-style’ Strelets kits. Besides, I imagine that these steeds of Norfolk farmers and local men would have been substantially better fed than regular army horses on campaign.
Following evidence that Thomas Coke of Holkham Hall requested permission to dress his yeomanry troop in the ‘colours of the 10th’ (light dragoons), I’ve taken that to have extended also to the shabraques which the wealthy agriculuralist Coke has very generously supplied to all his troopers!
For it’s design, I’ve broadly followed the 10th’s colours as seen on this Britains model below. Instead of a white device on a red background in the corner of the cloth, I’ve gone for a black emblem, hoping to mimic the ostriches I saw on the Holkham Yeomanry standard in Holkham Hall.
Being Napoleonic cavalry, they could conceivably be included as the 34th regiment in my Napoleonic Cavalry Project when complete (be they yeomanry or the 10th Light Dragoons themselves). Additionally, I’ve had a vague idea to include the standard in a scene with these figures. I’d like to recreate the act of it being presented to them by Mrs Jane Coke of Holkham Hall, a moment reported on in some detail by the local newspaper in 1798. After being given some great ideas by Mark at Man of Tin blog, I’m considering my options…
For now, my yeomanry horses are now being put out to grass whilst I turn my attention to the Holkham men themselves next!