Another interesting coincidence has occurred in the Duchy of Charnwood project. This augers well for my ImagiNation, I think. Today, through the post, has come the quarterly of the Victorian Military Society, “Soldiers of the Queen” (I’ve been a member for 3 decades now). Within the issue is an article on “A Leicestershire Naval Officer”, the officer in question being Lt Rudolph Edward Lisle March Phillipps De Lisle of the Royal Navy.
Lt De Lisle was born at Gracedieu Manor which is the inspiration for my fictional Duke of Charnwood’s country seat. The excellent article goes on to describe the young man’s life and tragically early death in the Sudanese desert (of all places for a young naval Lieutenant), at the brutal battle of Abu Klea. He was with the Naval Detachment’s Gardner Machine Gun when it jammed at a crucial moment. Sudanese warriors rushed up and before they were turned out of the British square, Lt. De Lisle was one of the casualties being ‘covered with more than fifty spear wounds’.
Of his early life, it says;
“[Rudolph’s father] gave up Gracedieu in favour of his eldest son… and prepared to move to Garendon Hall, then undergoing refurbishment. During the interim of 18 months, home became Longcliffe in the Charnwood Forest, where Rudolph learnt to shoot and began to demonstrate his ability to draw and sketch picturesque views.”
Nice to think of the real-life equivalent of my fictional Gracedieu family sketching the hills around Charnwood. In a recent post in fact, I used the name De Lisle for the baronet and colonel of the 1st Charnwood Grenadiers; Sir Arthur De Lisle. The real-life namesake De Lisle entered the navy and briefly joined HMS Victory in 1868 which was permanently moored at Portsmouth.
Which leads to another curious little coincidence. On board the HMS Victory around this time was an ancestor of mine. He was a 17-year old youth from Leicester who had the curious distinction of being the only trainee from the English midlands on board ship, (the remainder being boys from neighbouring sea ports and towns). I’ve always wondered what on earth my ancestor was doing on board HMS Victory; though they came from very different social strata, perhaps there was some link to this other Leicestershire resident, the young Lt Rudolph De Lisle…?
Too much demands upon my time of late to finish off the Charnwood Grenadiers I’ve been painting, much less turn my attention to the new Swithland Fusiliers. I hope, however, to post with some fresh soldiery sometime in the coming weeks…