Earlier this year, I visited and posted about the Queen’s Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum in Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire. The museum included within the collection exhibits related to one of Nottinghamshire’s two yeomanry regiments; the South Notts Hussars, including the mess dress uniform shown below.
This reminded me that I had a 54mm figure of the regiment which I had lying around unpainted and it seemed a perfect spur for me to dig it out and finally get some paint on it.
My figure is an officer of the South Notts Hussars Yeomanry from 1908. It’s from the 54mm “Squadron Range” sold by Tradition of London. As you can see, I’ve mounted my yeoman on the same style plinth as all my other 54mm yeomanry range figures. Also as usual, I’ve put the name of the regiment on the front and some details of the figure on the back.
Information on old yeomanry uniforms is not always clear-cut but I note that the Uniformology website disagreed with the sculptor about the number of caplines around the busby, insisting the line went around the headdress four times instead of the more usual two shown here.
The trickiest part of the figure for me was creating the Austrian knot details on the cuffs which were very indistinct on the figure. A check of the internet helped me gain an understanding before I quickly attempted some freehand work which, I like to fool myself, looks okay for a first attempt.
I’m quite pleased with the pouch belt which I gently brushed with a mix of gold and gold-yellow to reveal its very subtle pattern.
This figure arrived last year as part of a huge collection being sold on by the family of a collector who had passed away. I am mindful of being but the latest custodian and always aim to do them some justice. The other figures from this collection formed most of my “Marrion’s Men” series of yeomen.
The pouch is black with a silver cover and a gold emblem and other metalwork on the belt is gold. Headdress consists of a black fur busby, a gold-laced red bag, and a white over red plume.
I think it’s a really nice figure and a great example of a late 19th / early 20th Century hussar’s uniform. However, at nearly £50 a painted figure + P&P from the Tradition website, I think I’ll stick to the far more enjoyable activity of painting my own!
Some great images of the regiment can be found on The British Empire website including a photograph of the regiment on the march dated the same year as my figure; 1908. It’s a great scene of the regiment mounted in Full Dress with ladies and children walking on the path alongside.
The nearby ceiling light reflects off the glass case and from the floor the sign inside was barely visible to the (shorter than average height) visitor, but thanks to holding my camera high up to take the photo, I could confirm that it reads “Norfolk Light Horse Volunteers“. It contains a Full Dress sabretache and a pouch.
Nothing particularly remarkable here, perhaps. The reason I’m posting about this obscure object is because I’ve been lately furthering my knowledge of Victorian military volunteers by reading W.Y. Carman’s “Light Horse and Mounted Rifle Volunteers 1860-1901“. This is an interesting guide to the short-lived phenomenon of Victorian mounted volunteers; not part of the yeomanry as such, but an adjunct to the wider Rifle Volunteer Movement which began in 1859. In 1862, it is thought that approximately 1218 mounted volunteers comprised up to 28 troops of both Light Horse and Mounted Rifles. By 1881, the demands, costs and complexities of maintaining these forces had seen them dwindle away, leaving only 5 units remaining totalling 530 men.
The Norfolk Light Horse, whose sabretache was up on the wall in the Muckleburgh Collection, lasted only 5 years, forming in September 1862 but disappearing well before the end of the decade (August 1867). They had their genesis in the newly formed Norfolk Mounted Rifles and, after evolving into a Light Horse formation, went on to number up to 60 men in total.
”The uniform consists of a scarlet tunic with blue facings, white cross belt, white breeches, and Napoleon boots, the head dress is a busby with blue bag ; the forage cap is blue trimmed with white. A number of the troop have daily appeared in the city during the week, on their way to drill ; they are exceedingly well mounted and certainly present a very imposing appearance… The Norfolk Chronicle, 6th April, 1861.
Initially wearing the busby described above, this troop soon adopted a dark blue / black dragoon helmet with a white plume and an unusual triangular leopardskin patch on the front. By 1863, although still wearing the red tunic, the white breeches had gone and the men are depicted wearing blue overalls with side stripes.
The painting below dates from 1862 and depicts the local 1st City of Norwich Rifle Volunteers in their grey uniforms but also shows some men of the “Norwich Light Horse Volunteers” (as they were known locally for a while), easily noticeable in their scarlet-coloured undress uniforms. Officers Captain Gurney and Cornet Grimmer are said to be amongst them. It’s a nice scene and great impression of volunteer soldiering in the Victorian era.
Particularly interesting to me is the view in the background of a rifle range, a topic I posted on back in 2017. The backstop, the targets and the flag can all be made out and also a very high second embankment on the hillside above, no doubt to stop badly aimed rounds from ricocheting up high off the rising ground. I think it’s also just possible to see the rest of the red-coated Light Horse troop mounted on the hill in the far distant skyline.
Mousehold Heath seemed to be a popular location for activities relating to Norfolk volunteer activity, so it’s perhaps no surprise to discover pictorial evidence of a rifle range. Part of this heath still exists today, albeit surrounded by new development on the outskirts of Norwich. The area is the opposite side of the city centre to where I used to live, so I am not particularly familiar with it. I wonder if there’s evidence of the range still to be found there?
In it’s brief existence, the Norfolk Light Horse played a colourful part in a number of local events and occasions. The Records of the Norfolk Yeomanry Cavalry describes something of the unit’s brief existence, including the review on Mousehold Heath seen in the newspaper illustration at the top of this post and reported enthusiastically by the local paper. Examples of their appearances at local events include;
1861 – (As the ‘Norwich Mounted Rifle Volunteers’), a volunteer review at Holkham Park.
1862 – A volunteer fete at Crown Point.
1863 – A ‘grand military parade’ in Norwich in celebration of the marriage of the Prince of Wales.
1863 – Annual volunteer review at Mousehold Heath.
1864 – A volunteer review at Gunton Park, notably with the “band of the 1st Norwich Light Horse” in attendance.
1866 – Escort duty for the Prince of Princess of Wales visiting Norwich – particularly prestigious for the NLHV as the King’s Dragoon Guards were reduced to merely lining the streets!
The Chronicle’s reports on such occasions could be warmly evocative:
‘The 1st Norwich Light Horse, commanded by Capt Hay Gurney, marched with the Lancers from the Cavalry Barracks… As soon as the cavalry had reached Tombland, the other troops fell in and the entire body moved off amid the cheers of the spectators, who by this time were numerous… Every window was filled with lookers on, for the most part ladies, whose bright smiles and cheerful faces, betokened the delight they took in the spectacle.” The Norfolk Chronicle, 14th March, 1863.
Returning to the sabretache and pouch I’d seen in the Muckleburgh collection, I wonder whether W.Y. Carman had access to these original objects when he published the book in 1991. In the passage on the Norfolk Light Horse, he writes;
“A Full Dress sabretache is known. It measured 10 and a half inches high and 9 and a quarter inches at the base. The ground was bright blue or ultramarine with silver lace around the sides and base showing a red outer edge. The regulation crown was set over a ‘VR’ cypher and a three-part scroll. The latter was of red cloth and had silver letters and edging, reading ‘Norfolk / Light / Horse’. W.Y. Carman
Smith and Harris’ “The Yeomanry Cavalry of Norfolk”, gives the dimensions as below, distinctly different to Carman’s measurements, and are surprised by the sabretache being the “smallest on record” with a pouch for holding papers, maps, etc as broad as the sabretache. This is perhaps explained by the sabretache being of such small dimensions whilst the need for a pouch large enough to provide utility still remained.
“The sabretache is of particular interest as it is the smallest specimen on record, the width of no more than 7 inches at the top and 8 inches at the bottom, overall depth 9 inches…strangely the pouch is almost as broad as the sabretache.” Smith and Harris.
The clear differences in dimensions, not to say other minor differences in the size and shape of the crown, cypher and other details, make me wonder if they really aren’t two completely different sabretaches. I feel the shape of Carman’s ‘tache further confirms this suspicion.
Carman also describes the pouch:
At the same time a Full Dress pouch was seen, the flap being black velvet edged with silver lace and the embroidered crown with a crimson lining was over N L H V in silver letters. The precise date of these items is not known. Another pouch had an ultramarine flap.”W.Y. Carman
Military artist Bob Marrion probably got a first-hand look at the Muckleburgh sabretache (even though his illustration was published around the same time as Carman’s work) as his sabretache on the cover of Vol.12 of the Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force book seems to match the one in the collection very closely.
So, the items I saw in the Muckleburgh Collection in 2017 are either;
different to the ones written about by W.Y. Carman
or the pouch and sabretache which he reports as ‘last seen in 1958’ are one and the same with the Muckleburgh Collection’s and must have somehow resurfaced to find their way there.
Either way, it’s a shame that these relics, some of the few remaining items relating to the existence of this short-lived local mounted force, should be positioned so discreetly in the collection. Over 150 years ago, that humble sabretache would have once been a small part of the grand reviews and colourful parades which brought pleasure to many across the county.
The Royal carriages, escorted by a detachment of the Norwich Light Horse, appeared in sight. The autumnal tints of the trees, the bright uniforms of the Volunteers, the genial sunshine, and the hill and dale of the road, these with the long train of carriages contributed to form a delightful picture…” The Norfolk Chronicle, 3rd November, 1866.
Postscript! – Also high up on the same wall as the Norfolk Light Horse sabretache was another but from a different yeomanry regiment which has also thrown up something of interest. More on that in another post…
In what, for the time being, will be my last post on my series of R.J.Marrion-inspired figures, I present an officer of the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry in Parade Dress from the period 1905-1914.
This figure is based on an illustration by R.J. Marrion appearing on the cover of #4 book in Barlow and Smith’s series on “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”; the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry.
The figure arrived through the post partly base-coated and with its own plinth…
I re-primed it with some matt black paint and got started…
54mm is still a new scale to me and I found painting this figure surprisingly challenging, getting the shade and colours to my satisfaction was like dabbling in alchemy. I made a good number of revisions and I think I’m satisfied with the result. Even attaching the figure to its new plinth involved some drilling, fashioning a short metal pin and some glue; such practical activities are never my forte but it’s worked – it remains upright!
The Barlow and Smith book describes the uniform in the following detail:
The scarlet serge frock
…the new serge frock was entirely scarlet except that there was a trefoil in mixed silver and red cord on the cuffs and similar cord all around the collar forming eyes below the top edging. On the collar were white gorget patches with a central horizontal red stripe and a lozenge-shaped button near the ends of the patch.
There were shoulder chains on scarlet backing and a scarlet waist band or self-belt secured in front of the lowest button. The frock had patch and pleated breast pockets and patch pockets below the waist; five silver lozenge-shaped buttons down the front, a smaller lozenge button on each breast pocket flap and one on each shoulder chain.
I’ve painted the trefoil and collar cord white and scarlet, the former standing out better to the eye than the prescribed silver.
The blue overalls
The Overalls were dark blue with double silver lace stripes mounted on scarlet cloth, showing scarlet edges and a blue light between the stripes. Wellington boots in dismounted duty with box spurs.
That was all a little too detailed for my liking, even on a 54mm figure. My stripes are basically silver with some kind of red in there too – and that will have to be sufficient!
The forage cap
Barlow and Smith have a close-up picture of the cap (above) featuring a different badge post-dating the ‘three sprigs of heather’ which features on my figure. It describes the cap thus:
In about 1905 a very striking staff pattern, peaked, forage cap (Fig. 27) was introduced for the officers. It was scarlet, with a white band and piping in the crown seam, and a black chin-strap held by two silver lozenge -shaped buttons. The black patent leather peak had a silver-braided edge for the field officers. A silver badge of three sprigs of heather was worn.
It’s certainly a striking feature. Again on my figure, for the silver edge on the peak, I’ve opted for white with a touch of silver so that it stands out more cleanly.
The pouch belt and pouches
“In about 1902 a pouch with solid silver flap and red leather box was introduced (Fig. 15); it had oak leaf engraving on the flap and the same device as [the previous] cloth-faced pouch, but with the King’s crown all in gilt, entwined and reversed. This pouch was probably introduced for general wear, such as church parades in order to save the embroided type for levees.”
In a previous post about the third figure in my series of Marrion’s Men, I mentioned the very kind lady who is the widow of the original owner of these wonderful figures. She unexpectedly forwarded to me a couple of swords which had been found lying around which she hoped would suit the one that I was missing. Although it wasn’t quite right for the Sharpshooter figure, it has proved perfect for this WCYC figure and nestles under the crook of his arm perfectly. For all I know, it may even be the original sword which came with this figure.
Quite honestly, it feels good to finish some of these figures which were once started by her husband but which, unfortunately, he was unable to complete during his lifetime. Of course, we figure painters ultimately know that we will never finish painting our stock and the hope must be that the ranks of the unfinished find their way to those who will appreciate them to the utmost, as has certainly been the case with this yeoman.
Postscript: “the one that got away…”
Incidentally, I spotted another figure by R.J. Marrion which had recently come up for auction from the same stock as this WCYC figure. It’s yet another figure from the Sussex Yeomanry, which was the first book in the Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force series. I’ve already painted one from the cover of this book, but this one got away from me. I was bidding against a collector with seemingly bottomless pockets and my own bid, which was already much higher than I’d readily admit to my wife, was more than easily trounced by his first offer – which he then bolstered with another just in case! He needn’t have worried; I’m far from a wealthy man. Sometimes, it’s a good thing that my first love remains cheap plastic 1/72 scale figures…!
Interestingly, this new figure was not from Dorset Miniatures, as all have been previously, but produced by Mitrecap Miniatures. So it seems that Marrion’s yeomen have appeared under the guises of various manufacturers.
I made some enquiries directly with Dorset Model Soldiers, the successor firm to Dorset (Metal Model) Soldiers which manufactured the Trumpeter and other figures in this range of yeomanry from the Marrion, Barlow and Smith series. The new owner only acquired the firm a couple of years ago so could tell me little more but suggested that my sculpted figures are “likely to be the work of Giles Brown, the previous owner”. Whoever it was, my attempt at painting this figure stands as a kind of humble tribute to their very fine sculpting.
My previous post was published somewhat “prematurely” by an absurdly over-eager WordPress. This meant that was not able to add the few more photos of my painted lost Sharpshooter that I intended. So, with apologies for splitting the topic over two posts, here they are…
In keeping with Mr Marrion’s original illustration, I’ve used similar, though different, base colours for the tunic (Vallejo English Uniform Brown) and the cord breeches (Vallejo Khaki). I mixed my own colour for the Stohwasser gaiters using Red Leather and Burnt Umber. For the green facings, I used Vallejo Black Green and for the trumpet cord / aiguillettes I used Vallejo’s warmer shade of Deep Green.
Getting the three yellow stripes that appear on the folds of the Pagri was tricky as the definition on the metal was vague, so I simply did my best. Note the green stripe running down his breeches.
So, as I indicated in the last post, he’s now just awaiting his fancy wooden base to arrive. More on that another time, but I do promise that’s it on my Sharpshooter for now!
Some weeks ago now, I posted on a 54mm figure which had been lost many years ago – then found – lost again – and then found again! The figure was of a trumpeter belonging to the 3rd County of London yeomanry, also known as the Sharpshooters. This figure was a direct copy of Robert Marrion’s illustration on the cover of the Sharpshooters book from the Smith and Harris’ “Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force” series.
The largest scale that I’ve painted hitherto is 28mm, 20mm being my usual scale, and so 54mm is a big step up. I’ve enjoyed the new challenge of painting it. It’s nice to focus on one figure rather than a whole kit of them.
I don’t think my painting technique is perfectly suited to these bigger scales, but I admit to being reasonably pleased with the result.
And that’s not all.
I’ve discovered a seller on eBay who has been selling off her late father’s old stock of figures. Clearly, the chap was a fellow of good taste, his collection includes lots of 54mm figures, most splendidly painted with some soldiers still untouched. These have included yet more Dorset Model Soldier Company figures taken from the illustrations on the covers of Smith and Harris’ series. Namely;
Officer, Undress, c.1903-1905 – 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters):
Another figure (or rather 2 figures – they came as a pair) also from the cover of the 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters) book, this time being modelled on the officer in the all-green undress. Unfortunately, both figures are without the sword that the officer is supposed to be resting his hands on. He could nevertheless be taken for simply clasping his hand together.
Sergeant, Sussex Imperial Yeomanry, Service Dress, c.1905:
Another Dorset figure that I’ve come into is based on the very 1st book in the series on the Sussex Yeomanry Cavalry. It is the figure of the Sergeant on the far left wearing the bandoleer, Stohwasser gaiters and slouch hat. It’s a very impressive figure, I think, though some preparation will be needed as his riding crop remains attached to his right arm and there’s quite a bit of flash to remove.
There is one other figure I’m expecting which will be similar to the Sergeant-Major second from left on the cover (wearing a khaki lancer-pattern uniform and red forage cap). Still currently on its way through the post, this figures has a slouch hat instead of the red cap and photographs of the Sussex Yeomanry in this manner of Full Dress uniform can be seen in the Barlow and Smith book. So, it’s not strictly a Robert Marrion figure, but should, I imagine look similar to the one he illustrated 2nd left.
I’m intrigued to know how many of these 54mm model figures and of which regiments were made from the Yeomanry Force series. Having discovered three from the 1st and 5th books alone, I must assume that there are more from some of the remaining 13 other books.
Meanwhile, I’ve sourced a base for the trumpeter of the Sharpshooters that I’ve painted, which will hopefully come through the post in the coming week. Once properly mounted and presented, I will share in a future post. It seems that my humble tribute to R.J. Marrion is emerging as a long term ongoing project…