Marrion’s Men #7: Captain, Sussex Yeomanry

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.”

Right: the officer in ‘bright, dark blue’

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.

Sussex Yeomanry headgear, possibly reenactment equipment. What appears to be my figure’s cap is to the right, albeit without the officers gold around the edge of the peak.

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.

Mitrecap Miniatures

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.

My Mitrecap Miniatures’ officer of the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry.

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?

Marrion’s Men #6: Officer, Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry

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.

There’s something of the rakish, derring-do anti-hero about our Lancastrian captain. I can imagine Imperial Rebel Ork creating a clever character portrait and back story for this man.

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.

Another Marrion’s Man?

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.

Officer, Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry by Tradition of London.

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”.

Order placed with Tradition of London! 🙂

A Portrait of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry

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.

Portrait of An Officer & His Mount, Surrey Yeomanry by Augustus S. Boult

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!

Pattern 1822 Light Cavalry Sabre and scabbard

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!

Portrait of an Officer of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry
 , 1823–1823

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.

Presentation of the Yeomanry Standard, Holkham Hall, October 1798.

“The two troops of Holkham volunteer cavalry, commanded by Major Coke, received their standard from the hands of Mrs. Coke…”

The Mercury Newspaper, Norfolk, 6th October 1798.

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 chapel, Holkham Hall.

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”.

Captain Edmund Rolfe rides up to Mrs Coke to take receipt of the Holkham Yeomanry’s newly consecrated standard. Thomas Coke looks on proudly…

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.

Thomas William Coke of Holkham by Thomas Lawrence, 1815. Photo credit: Walker Art Gallery

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.

The Rt Hon. Jane Viscountess Andover. After John Hoppner – Philadelphia Museum of Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17729616

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!

Viscount Andover and his wife, Jane.

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.

Front page of the Norwich Mercury from 1823, the same provincial newspaper which reported on the events at Holkham Hall in 1798.

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.


Local landowner

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 Holkham Yeomanry Cavalry (Nap. Cavalry Regiment #34)

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
  • white breeches
  • pale yellow facings
  • white braid (white-silver for officers)
  • tarleton helmet with a black turban and silver chains
  • brass chain wing shoulder scales
  • black boots

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.

Pointing the way to Holkham beach… for this figure shown above I removed his weapon and left him gesturing with a finger.

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: :


Cheshire Military Museum: Day Trip #19

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.

cheshire museum (23)

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)…

The Cheshire Military Museum’s diorama of the Battle of Meeanee, 1843.

…and also a couple of imposing life-sized manikins placed mid-combat!

Part of Cheshire Military Museum’s imaginative display on the Battle of Meeanee.

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!

Jones, George, 1786-1869; The Battle of Meeanee, 17 February 1843
The Battle of Meeanee, 17 February 1843 by George Jones; Cheshire Military Museum.

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:

I was on the lookout for the Cheshire Yeomanry’s drum banner, seen here in a 1924 Player’s Cigarettes card.

…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”)!

High up on the wall – ancient Drum banners of the 5th DG.

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.

Unknown artist; A Captain of the Cheshire Yeomanry; Cheshire Military Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/captain-of-the-cheshire-yeomanry-103105

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.

A troop guidon of the Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry

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…

The Cheshire (Earl of Chester’s) Yeomanry 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!

Nags of Norfolk: Modelling the Holkham Yeomanry

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!

A South Notts Hussar

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.