Another of my 54mm Mitrecap Miniatures Yeomanry chaps. Although not inspired by R.J. Marrion or E.A. Campbell, or indeed any other illustration that I know of, this one is of particular interest to me as it’s my local volunteer force, the Leicestershire Yeomanry.
The uniform is a hussar pattern and recall similar items of uniform which I’ve seen before in the Leicestershire Yeomanry museum.
Much to my surprise after the usual chaotic and alchemical process of paint daubing and wash applications, the face has come out nicely. The shading is subtle, as is my style, but (I like to think) convincing enough.
The painting instructions by Mitrecap did not always accord with other evidence. The busby, for example, was described as dark brown fur but the examples seen in the museum were very definitely black – so I’ve gone with that.
Likewise, the ornate braid is described as being “silver” by Mitrecap. A Richard Simkin print which I have framed shows the braid as being a silvery shade of white.
Hopefully my blend of white and silver does the job.
The rest of the uniform is dark blue with scarlet piping on the legs, scarlet cuffs, collar and busby bag.
The flimsy plume had all but broken off when I received the figure so with some difficulty, I’ve managed to reattach it.
It’s a nice pose and excellent sculpting by Mitrecap, as I’ve come to expect from them. This yeoman joins another Leicestershire Yeomanry pair of figures, (Napoleonic era) which I painted just the other day. I know of only one other model representation of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, a plaster 150mm figure by “The Sentry Box”. Something to keep an eye out for?
Sited on the usual alder-wood Ukrainian-made plinth, this chap makes for the 11th 54mm yeomanry figure in my slowly growing collection. There’s more to come and given how pleasurable they are to paint, who’s to say it won’t be soon!
Over the past few years, I’ve picked up a few 54mm metal yeomanry figures from the Napoleonic Wars which have been made by Ensign Miniatures. They have a distinctive sculpting style which didn’t fit well with my other Bob Marrion / Edward Campbell-inspired yeomanry from the late 19th/ early 20th century era. Occasionally, one would turn up at an affordable price and I would add to my collection meaning I now have three different figures.
A couple of years ago, I had nearly finished painting a pair of their Leicestershire Yeomanry figure but held off from completing pending a visit to my local Leicestershire Yeomanry museum in order to review any exhibits and information relating to these early uniforms. An extended period of closure ‘for refurbishment’, and also the COVID-19 virus has prevented a visit since. So. now I’ve pushed on with them and present my two Leicestershire Yeomanry officers.
The reason I had painted two was that strangely they came in an auction as a group of five identical figures. A misspelling of ‘yeomanry’ meant that I won the lot for a tiny sum. I found some spare wooden bases to use and added plaques as a finishing touch. What to do with my extra yeomen, including painted and unpainted version, I’m not so sure!
The figure came with a 1796 Pattern Light-Cavalry Sabre and nickel strips for use as sabretache slings. I’ve done my ham-fisted best with these.
The overalls were described in the painting instructions as being sky blue with either ‘scarlet bands to outer seams’ or ‘silver with central red piping’. At the time I painted these, I found some excellent colour photographs of an original uniform which showed the latter design, so I stuck with that. Sadly, this invaluable website appears to be now unavailable.
The helmet instructions were detailed and again I benefited from the example online which included a pink turban around the Tarleton. I was satisfied that my colouring seemed to hit the right note.
The faces of the two, despite being identical, I’ve somehow manage to create individual expressions which I like the look of.
The rest of the uniform consists of a scarlet jacket, sky blue collar, cuffs and turnbacks, silver shoulder scales and buttons, with a sash described as crimson. Seeing the original uniform helped enormously at the time I painted these.
Further to these yeomen, I had once read somewhere that Ensign Miniatures made a large quantity of figures relating to the yeomanry. However, another random purchase (I know ‘another‘ purchase, I despair of myself, I really do…) has thrown up some interesting information on these Ensign figures.
My purchase was for a set of six 1960s postcards with illustrations on them of Napoleonic English yeomanry, 1800-1809 all by an artist named René North. These black and white drawings came with painting instructions written under the illustration, which I thought could maybe prove useful in any future yeomanry painting endeavours. When they came through the post, however, I immediately recognised a pattern emerging among the six regiments. The regiments included:
The Warwickshire Light Horse, Private, 1801
The Surrey Yeomanry, Private, 1800
The West Kent Yeomanry (Sheppey)*, Officer, 1800
Loyal London Cavalry, Private, 1804
The Leicestershire Yeomanry*, Officers, 1808
The South Bucks (Eton Troop)*, Officer, 1809
Three of the above were exactly the same Ensign Miniatures figures which I had in my possession* and very specifically the same troops for both the South Bucks and West Kent yeomanry. This seemed more than coincidence, so I delved further into it.
A little research eventually dug up a pdf copy of an old Ensign Miniatures catalogue. This catalogue showed that my yeomanry figures were part of the ‘A’ Range (summarised somewhat vaguely as “A variety of British figures at home and overseas…”) and consisted of nearly all of the six regiments specified in the René North cards. The sole exception was the “Loyal London Cavalry” which was not featured. Instead, two Scottish yeomanry regiments from the same period were also available.
The catalogue cites Bob Rowe as being the designer of this series of figures. It seems clear that René North must have been a key inspiration or information source for much of Bob Rowe’s Napoleonic yeomanry designs. Who was this illustrator René North and why did he produce this monochrome set of cards? A quick glance at eBay shows a number of other “Paint-Your-Own” uniform sets covering a wide range of military topics, all black and white line drawings with full colouring information included in text.
“Initially the colouring information was on the actual card, but on later sets it was moved to the accompanying text sheet leaving the card purely for the illustration itself.”
My English Yeomanry series was one of the earlier releases, set #22 of a total 113 sets issued, my illustrations being dated 1961. The text on the card notably includes the sources for each illustration. The Warwickshire Yeomanry card, for example, quotes a painting which I’ve seen in their museum and which inspired my own 28mm figures which now reside there. The Leicestershire Yeomanry card cites the original uniform as the source which I had seen online.
Notably, North also produced some uncoloured cardboard soldiers, “essentially forerunners of Peter Dennis’ excellent ‘Paper Soldiers’ series published by Helion”. Described as being “modest and softly spoken with a gentle twinkle in his intelligent eyes“, one person who knew him goes on to say;
“René North’s name is rarely mentioned today…but his work is the foundation of many of the studies of British Napoleonic Uniforms and he deserves to be better remembered.”
René North passed away in 1971. Not entirely forgotten though, I can vouch that his work is still inspiring painters like myself nearly half a century after his death.
The blog post by Helion is very well worth a read for anybody interested in the topic of military uniforms and uniformology.
The purchase of some old unpainted Mitrecap Miniatures figures, which I mentioned in my previous post, included a Lieutenant of the Surrey Yeomanry c.1905.
This figure appears to have been inspired by this 1943 illustration by Edward A. Campbell seen in R.G. Harris’ “50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms”:
The Campbell plate was itself based upon a photograph of the commander of A Squadron, Captain P. Noble Fawcett. Doubtful whether Mitrecap’s captain can be pinned down specifically as he, however, as I note that their figure does not sport his bushy moustache.
I posted recently on a portrait of an officer of the Surrey Yeomanry from the early 19th Century. The regiment in this early incarnation survived intermittently until disbanding in 1848. It was not then re-raised until 1901 when the Surrey Imperial Yeomanry were the first of a number of new yeomanry regiments raised after the inception of the Anglo-Boer War. Their uniform was originally based on that of the New South Wales Lancers, a unit which had attracted much admiration when they arrived in Britain as a delegation from Australia for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.
In adopting this khaki uniform, the newly formed Surrey Yeomanry were correctly obeying the new instructions regarding the colour of Yeomanry service dress uniforms. The text accompanying a plate of a 1911 Surrey yeoman by P.H. Smitherman explains;
“In an attempt to curb the extravagance of dress in the mounted branches, Yeomanry regiments formed after the South African war were encouraged to confine themselves to khaki service dress…The trooper in this plate (see below) is wearing the type of uniform that all yeomanry regiments should have adopted after the Boer War, but which few of them did. As can be seen, it is a smart and practical dress, although not perhaps as flamboyant as was customary for the yeomanry. It is a dress of lancer pattern with cap lines although the regiment never wore the lance cap.” (P.H. Smitherman “Uniforms of the Yeomanry Regiments 1783-1911)
It’s interesting to note that despite the push to place Yeomanry troops in khaki, “few of them did”. R.J. Smith and R.G. Harris acknowledge that “the Yeomanry have always had the reputation of being a law unto themselves concerning some aspects of military regulations…” (“The Yeomanry Force at the 1911 Coronation”).
The Marrion’s, Smitherman’s and Campbell’s interpretation of the colour of khaki worn varies considerably, so I’m happy that my figure’s khaki exists somewhere between these extremes. Below is R.J. Marrion’s vision of a Surrey trooper at the time of the 1911 coronation:
I confess to making a mess of attaching the hat and left hand to the figure. It took me a while to work out how it was to be held but, after spreading glue liberally in places it wasn’t needed, I finally got it about right.
The face of the yeoman appeared to me to wearily have his eyes closed, the consequence of a long day in the saddle. After the application of paint, it seemed to work well so – possibly for the first time – I’ve painted a figure with his eyes shut.
Once again, a lovely piece of sculpting by Mitrecap. I’m not sure whether I’ve done it justice or not but I’ve enjoyed painting this figure which now takes it’s place as the 9th 54mm yeoman in my collection.
Stop Press! In typical style, I forgot to add a small silver badge to the turned up side of the slouch hat. To be fair, the sculptor hasn’t included it either, but it’s something I’ll include anyway.
It appears to be this white metal cap badge. This Other Ranks version being the crest of Lord William St.John Freemantle Brodrick, 9th Viscount Midleton, Hon. Colonel of the Regiment. The Surrey Imperial Yeomanry wore this badge on the turned up side of their slouch hats.
Brodrick was Secretary of State for war and gave his name to an unpopular British army undress cap of the time.
Another Mitrecap Miniature, as promised in my last post.
I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of painting this one. The challenge chiefly lay in getting the colour of the tunic right.
Here’s why: the tunic is a shade of blue that seems to be difficult to define. The Barlow and Smith book on the Sussex Yeomanry Cavalry has the following description:
“The tunic was a double-breasted Indian Army pattern in a special bright dark blue superfine cloth – virtually the same shade as the facings on the obsolete khaki Full Dress which showed up the black braiding more distinctly.”
Yes, a special bright dark blue. Sounds a bit like describing ‘a dull, shiny green’ or ‘a vivid, drab yellow’! R.J. Marrion’s artwork uses a palette which further beguiles. It seems to be a dark blue but with a velvety green tinge, the highlights themselves being turquoise.
Some assistance came in the form of a single photograph I discovered of headgear worn I believe by the Sussex Yeomanry historical reenactment group. One of these caps is a dead ringer for the cap seen on my figure and Marrion’s cover illustration. Sure enough, the colour appears to be a green-tinged blue – something approaching a dark teal colour. So, I went with that in mind and mixed my own colours.
This cap is described in the following way:
Officers wore an army blue forage cap with black patent leather peak and chin strap; the peak was edged 3/4 inch in gold embroidery for field officers and 1/2 inch for troop officers. The cap had a gilt badge and buttons, a yellow band and yellow piping in the crown seam.
The braid threw up another puzzle. Marrion appears to clearly show it as being a lighter version of the same greenish-blue as the tunic, but the text by Barlow and Smith very clearly state it to be ‘black’, describing “five loose loops of black plaited chain gimp cord across the front, with olivets and Austrian knots at the outer ends“. I’ve gone with Barlow and Smith on this as they seemed very clear on this point and painted them black.
The overalls appear to be more simply a dark blue; “Blue overalls with a single broad yellow stripe…“. Marrion’s illustration also seems to reflect this blue colour as being distinct from the ‘special bright dark blue” of the tunic. All this fussing over the colour might seem ridiculous as I’m aware that under the camera lens, the blue of the tunic and the blue of the overalls look the same. All I can say is that they do look like the subtle but distinctly different shades that I intended them to be to my naked eye!
The collar was very unusual. It was described as being yellow, which even a quick glance will contradict. It appears to be totally dark blue or black. However, this is a consequence of lots of black braid; “Yellow collar, edged all round with similar (i.e. black) braid, traced inside with black cord to form 16 eyes on the yellow centre.” I confess, I didn’t paint the full 16 eyes, I managed 13 in total, all the tip of my 00 brush and my unsteady hand would allow!
“A gold oak-leaf lace pouch belt on blue Morocco leather with gilt buckle tip and slide (no breast ornaments) black leather pouch with gilt Royal Cypher and crown on the flap.” Unfortunately, the pouch belt had none of the engraved patterns of the Tradition South Notts Hussar that I painted in 2019, so it appears as a plain yellow-gold. Likewise the pouch itself, so I’ve vaguely approximated the cypher and crown design.
This Full Dress uniform was approved by royal submission on 3 April 1909, rejecting, incidentally, a previous dragoon design created by the renowned military artist Harry Payne. White wrist gloves complete the uniform which was reserved for Levee or ceremonial occasions only.
This figure came in an attractive little red box, although my other Mitrecap figures are in a bag instead. A particular challenge I perhaps could have done without however is that Mitrecap figures are cast without a ‘peg’ under a foot to assist with standing or fixing on to a plinth. Consequently, I’ve drilled the leg and inserted my own improvised metal peg for stability – he’s not going anywhere! Otherwise, I’ve been most impressed with this Mitrecap Miniature and I look forward to painting more.
I mentioned in a post recently that I’d won a figure in auction to add to my steadily growing 54mm Yeomanry Cavalry series (aka Marrion’s Men). I’d missed out on this figure a year or so ago and so was understandably delighted to get my hands on it this time around. It’s an officer of the Sussex Yeomanry, circa 1908. The pose though not identical is very similar and the painting guide actually directly references the Marrion illustration seen below.
This illustration by Bob Marrion features on the cover of the first book in the Ogilby Trust series on British yeomanry uniforms which ran between the late 70s and the early 90s. On the same cover is another illustration of an officer which I’ve previously painted in 54mm (see below).
Mitrecap Miniatures was, so far as I can find out, established by Dennis Johnson in 1979 and did well until it eventually was brought to a close possibly sometime in the early-mid 2000s with the proprietor’s emigration to Spain. Names of some of the sculptors for Mitrecap that I’ve seen referenced elsewhere are Keith Durham and Peter Loxley.
This July 1984 edition of Modelworld News announced that “a new name to us is Mitrecap Miniatures 23 Queen’s Road, Sheffield, South Yorks. They have quite a big range of 54mm cast figures in kit form, including the British yeomanry (i.e. TA cavalry) regiments of the pre-1939 period…“
Recently, I discovered that my previously unsourced Westmorland & Cumberland yeoman figure in the Marrion series (painted back in 2018), is indeed another Mitrecap Miniature. Sure enough it is featured in their list of ‘figurines and accessories’. Their entire list demonstrates that they did a good line in volunteer troops of all kinds (militia, volunteer associations, rifle volunteers, etc).
These “Turn of the Century” figures, for example, include yeomanry of:
The Oxfordshire Hussars (1900)
Westmoreland & Cumberland Yeomanry (1900)
The Leicestershire Yeomanry (1910)
Yorkshire Dragoons (1900)
Yorkshire Hussars (1900)
Worcestershire Yeomanry (1900)
East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry (1908)
Westminster Dragoons (1909)
Fife & Forfar Yeomanry (1895)
Surrey Yeomanry (1905)
Sussex Yeomanry (1908)
Great to hear there were other yeomanry figures made under this manufacturer.
Now I know that the Sussex and Westmorland & Cumberland Yeomanry figures are inspired by Bob Marrion illustrations, I wonder how many of the others are too? Bob Marrion certainly produced illustrations of the Yorkshire Hussars, the Yorkshire Dragoons, the East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry, the Worcestershire Yeomanry and the Westminster Dragoons; all of which are listed by Mitrecap. So plenty of scope for another Marrion-inspired Mitrecap figure there.
…But now I’ve snapped up two more Mitrecap yeomanry figures which came up for auction this week for a very reasonable price indeed!*
*Honestly, Mrs Marvin!!
Neither of these figures are taken from the Marrion series of illustrations. However, on opening their still-sealed packets, I discovered that the figures were actually inspired by another artist well known to me. The painting guides reference Plate 25 and Plate 32 from “50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms” by R.G. Harris and I thankfully have a copy of this 1972 book – a Christmas present received a couple of years ago.
One of these figures is based on this below illustration of a Lieutenant of the Surrey Yeomanry. Similar to the pose shown below in Campbell’s painting, the 54mm figure has his slouch hat detached and held in a hand:
The other figure references a plate of an officer of the East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry wearing a lancer uniform. This time the sculptor depicts the soldier wearing his lancer cap rather than following the illustration. The painting guide for this figure points to Plate 32 of Harris’ book and also Military Modelling’s 1983 April and May Issues.
The plates in this book are all work by the artist and former volunteer soldier, Edmund A. Campbell, who died in 1951 leaving behind a considerable number of military artworks from his extensive and first hand research. I suspect that the Mitrecap figures listed for the Fife & Forfar Yeomanry and the Oxfordshire Hussars at least could well be inspired by their respective Campbell plates (nos. 4 and 21). So it may be that I find myself developing a 54mm yeomanry series referencing the work of another military artist: Campbell’s Cavalry, perhaps?
Well, it’s been over a year since I painted my last figure in the Marrion’s Men series of 54mm Yeomanry figures based on R.J. Marrion’s illustrations, but recently I posted on the unexpected discovery of another. This was a figure from the excellent Tradition of London shop, a captain of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry.
Though not identical, it closely matched the figure seen on the back cover illustration of #6 in the Army Museums Ogilby Trust series – “Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1782-1914.” My figure’s doppelganger can be seen below right on my copy of the book, with his foot on a milestone and nonchalantly smoking a cigarette.
The Tradition figure’s notes state that it depicts an officer of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry (DLOY) from 1909 in Field Dress. 54mm high in metal, the figure comes from their Squadron Range and was designed by Alan Caton (who sadly passed away in 2015). The pose differs very slightly from the Marrion illustration – the foot rests on a wooden box; the sword and sabretache are missing; and the right hand now rests on a knee instead of holding a cigarette.
Otherwise, the uniform details match very closely indeed and the figure is indisputably inspired by Bob Marrion’s fabulous illustration.
Barlow and Smith’s book on the DLOY includes a photograph which, in turn, must have been the inspiration for Bob Marrion’s original artwork. It features someone looking much like our officer on horseback in 1900. He is identified as being Major J. Rutherford. I like the idea of the continuity of inspiration that has gone on behind this figure.
1900 – Major Rutherford is photographed on horseback in Hightown Camp.
1983 – Artist Bob Marrion uses the photograph as a template for an illustration.
1990-2000? – Sculptor Alan Caton casts the master of a version of Bob Marrion’s drawing.
2020 – Marvin paints Alan Caton’s brilliant figure for his collection.
The above caption reads: Fig.14 Major J. Rutherford in Mounted Field Dress at Hightown Camp, 1900. He wears the new service felt hat and the original pagri is just visible. The 1896 serge frock is worn with Undress white belt and slings, and the pantaloons have gold stripes; knee boots. The sabretache with gold ornament, introduced about 1895, can also be seen… (see also back cover, figure on right.)
Instead of the “gold stripes”, Tradition’s notes state they should be yellow. Given that Barlow and Smith state that “from 1903, the gold lace stripes on the overalls and pantaloons were replaced by yellow cloth“, my 1909 captain having yellow stripes is correct and, from a purely visual point of view, I do like the bright colourful contrast to his otherwise dark blue uniform.
The slouch hat was headgear which became popular following its appearance in the Anglo-Boer War of 1898-1902. Worn by the Imperial Yeomanry, amongst others, it may have been the lack of cork available for more foreign service helmets which led to its widespread adoption. Barlow and Smith offer a few words on our officer’s uniform and specifically his slouch hat.
During the annual training at Hightown in 1900, the slouch hats were served out for wear with the drill and working kit. The DLOY were one of the first yeomanry to wear this headgear on home service. The hat was of drab felt with at first a blue pagri but this was quickly replaced by a leather strap.The 1896 pattern serge frock… now bore shoulder chains for all ranks and brass collar badges…
Those colour badges appear to be gold with a red rose in the centre, according to Marrion’s illustration. So I’ve taken that as my guide and reproduced a tiny scarlet splash of the Lancastrian red rose in the badge.
The usual alder wood plinth and engraved plaques set the figure off nicely. It came with it’s own metal stand of a brickwork floor but I wanted to maintain the plinths I’ve used throughout the series:
Though I confess to accidentally dating him to be a year later than Tradition’s stated 1909! This matters not, I’m sure.
I confess to being very pleased with how this figure has turned out. What’s more, the painting of it was done quickly and with (for me) a relatively minimum amount of fuss. Sometimes simple uniforms can be strangely all the more difficult to get looking really satisfactory, I find, but this one seemed to come together nicely.
Tradition do a nice line in 54mm yeomanry figures, thanks to Alan Caton, and I confess to having my eye on one or two others (although no more are apparently based on Bob Marrion illustrations). I painted a nice figure of theirs last year depicting a man of the South Notts Hussars.
And that’s not all – there’s more. I’ve only gone and won another figure for my Marrion’s Men series! It’s a figure which I’ve found on eBay and which I was outbid on some time ago! More on this anon but below are the display in my house of all my Marrion-inspired 54mm yeomanry with two prints of Bob Marrion’s artwork alongside.
My “Marrion’s Men” series features 54mm yeomanry figures whose sculpting appears to be based closely on illustrations by the great military artist R.J. Marrion. All of these illustrations are featured on the covers of a series of books called “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”, all of which were published between 1980 and 1992.
It now seems I may have discovered another 54mm yeomanry figure seemingly inspired by Bob Marrion’s illustrations from this series. This figure could be said to have been hiding in plain sight, being still freely available for sale from Tradition of London! The figure is of a yeoman from the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry.
Number 6 book in the series is on the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry by L. Barlow and R.J. Smith. Bob Marrion’s illustration of this officer appears on the back cover, alongside a sergeant and a mounted kettledrummer.
The authors state simply that it depicts “an officer in Field Dress in 1900”. The illustration itself is based on a photograph appearing inside on Page 14 showing a Major J. Rutherford wearing the same uniform while mounted.
“Fig. 14. Major J. Rutherford in Mounted Field Dress at Hightown Camp, 1900. He wears the new felt hat and the original pagri is just visible. The 1896 serge frock is worn with Undress white belt and slings and the pantaloons have gold stripes; knee boots. The sabretache with gold ornament, introduced about 1895, can also be seen.”
The pose on Tradition’s 54mm figure is not identical but is very similar and the uniform appears to be the same in all details. There’s no sabretache and sword (not to say any cigarette in hand either), also the stone distance marker on which the officer nonchalantly places his foot has been replaced by Tradition by a wooden box.
Despite all that, I think the clear and unmistakable similarities mean that for me it still qualifies as a newly identified “Marrion’s Man”.
Being always interested in the colourful array of Napoleonic yeomanry, I recently noticed a striking painting up for sale. It’s a contemporary oil painting of an officer of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry which I thought pleasing enough to share.
In the distance can be seen the whole regiment lined up as well as a separate group nearby. They wear white over red plumes while the officer wears red. One of this group is presumably intended to be a trumpeter wearing a darker (navy?) coloured coat, a Tarleton possibly with its crest being topped with red, and also being mounted on a grey. His instrument might possibly just be discerned being held in his right hand.
From the heavy pall of smoke to the left distance, a significant battle seems to be in progress – a fanciful invention for a regiment whose duties were principally limited to policing civil unrest!
I was initially unsure of the year it was painted but the sale description suggested the officer has drawn a Pattern 1822 Light Cavalry Sword. This trusty weapon was to remain in use in the British army up until 1896 and in some yeomanry regiments well into the 20th century.
The regiment was disbanded briefly at the end of the 1820s. Given the sword pattern, the Napoleonic-era uniform and Tarleton helmet, it seemed likely that it must have been mid-1820s, prior to any subsequent uniform change. Yeomanry could be slow to adopt changes in military fashion from the regular forces as the cost of adopting new uniforms would usually come from the regiment’s own colonel and benefactor. A portrait of a quartermaster from the Leicestershire Yeomanry, for example, shows him still wearing a Tarleton helmet in the 1850s!
A little research soon threw up another Boult painting of a Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry officer. This portrait is dated 1823. Presumably both the paintings being commissioned together and is therefore likely the same date as the first canvas. This painting depicts the officer in a more dynamic pose, firing his pistol, seemingly as he rides hurriedly back towards his lines away from the enemy! To the distance right, another line of light blue Surrey yeomen can be seen. Notably, the trouser on this officer is of a light blue or blue-grey colour rather than the apparent black in the first portrait.
Also in the saleroom is this 100mm Die-Cast figure of Colonel Lord Leslie of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry, the regiment’s founder. Dying in 1817, this is not the same as the officer in the painting.
And the painting of the Surrey Yeomanry continues to this day as seen on this pub sign (depicting a later incarnation of the regiment). On Dorking High Street is a pub which was named in honour of Lord Leslie back in the early 19th century, the Lord being a former neighbour.
About the artist:
I can’t find much information about the artist Augustus S. Boult beyond what appears on auction sites. It appears that he specialised in painting equestrian, country and hunting subjects and painted at least some other cavalry portraits. It appears that he had a relation (possibly a son), Francis, who followed in the same tradition, painting very similar subjects but seemingly non-military. Augustus Boult died in 1853.
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…
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: :