Slowly but surely the Duke’s elite Charnwood Grenadiers regiment expands up to full strength. The sculpting of these figures make for a pleasurable painting experience. At present, I am only painting these figures when I get some spare time from my more usual 1/72 scale figures and when the mood takes me. I’ve said it before, The Duchy of Charnwood is a slow burn project! I have about 8 figures remaining before I move on to the next regiment; the Swithland Fusiliers.
One of the enjoyable aspects of painting these figures is the details and expressions on the faces of the figures, making it a regiment of individuals rather than identical copies of one template.
One of the figures is an officer. So allow me to introduce to you Captain Edward Carillon of the Charnwood Grenadiers. He wears a gorget (a crescent-shaped sign of rank beneath his neck), and a red sash about his waist. Unlike his grenadier cap wearing men, Captain Carillon also wears a tricorn hat and an expensive pair of knee-length boots. I like his features which suggest an unflappable presence on the battlefield, perhaps tainted however by a certain world-weary cynicism?
Also making an appearance is this axe-wielding maniac. I believe that he represents what is known as a pioneer sergeant. He wears a stout apron and carries an axe, he marches at the head of his company ostensibly to clear a path for all who follows. The apron serves to protect the pioneer sergeant’s uniform from the vicissitudes of hacking people to pieces. Again, one can see a ‘robust’ personality in his ‘resolute’ features. I for one wouldn’t dare describe him as murderously psychotic.
I’ve also painted this fellow below who appears to be carrying a very long halberd or pike. He’s actually missing a flag! I intend to add his standard shortly as soon as I’ve worked out what kind of flag I’m going to put on it.
Finishing this batch of figures has given me the impetus to polish off the remainder of the regiment, so watch this space!
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…
Through the post has come a number of figures to swell the ranks of Charnwood’s fledgling army! Quickly cleaned and primed, here they are:
Two mounted officers arrived from Front Rank Figurines, the first I’ve purchased from this manufacturer. These personalities represent two British officers; the Marquis of Granby and another senior officer. For the Duchy of Charnwood, I think they may represent;
Left: Sir Arthur de Lisle – baronet and colonel of the 1st Charnwood Grenadiers. He is a flamboyant leader of men who doesn’t always take his duties completely seriously, Sir de Lisle’s chief interests being the pursuit of both ladies and foxes (though, to his regret, never at the same time). His somewhat carefree attitude to soldiering has yet to cause any friction with the Duke hitherto. Both men get along famously and the baronet has always displayed astonishing degrees of both luck and skill on the battlefield.
Right: Captain Normanton-Turville, the 1st regiment’s adjutant. The captain is as serious and diligent a soldier as his colonel is an inattentive one. Consequently, the Captain is held in high regard by his grateful C.O. The Normanton-Turvilles are a local family of strict Calvinists renown for their puritanical attitudes. In this regard, Henry is typical family member. His personal and moral austerity however are compromised by one shameful indulgence; a small hip flask of gin always secreted about his person (to keep out the cold, he assures himself).
My other purchase is from Crusader Miniatures, suppliers of my first regiment in the Duchy of Charnwood project. The first regiment comprised grenadiers, but these new figures will go to make up the second regiment; the Swithland Fusiliers.
As a comparison, below is a grenadier and fusilier side by side. The grenadier is nicely sculpted as being slightly taller, an effect exaggerated by his taller grenadier cap. Grenadiers were intended to be big, imposing men in an elite unit; conversely, the fusiliers were smaller men with a speciality in skirmishing and marksmanship.
I’ll reveal more about this 2nd regiment in a future post as they begin to get painted, but for now there’s the beginnings of a dedicated page available here.
I received a most useful gift from my brother (who currently lives in Hong Kong). When he visited England in the summer he bought for me an antique 1940s (war issue) map of the Charnwood area for me. It was kept aside as a Christmas present for me by my mother and was consequently received on Christmas Day 2016.
The fact that this old map shows Charnwood is entirely coincidental! I’m neither a collector of maps nor had I even had the notion to develop The Duchy of Charnwood until very recently.
The 1940s map will provide me with lots of names, places and ideas to develop the imaginary version. From this, small villages may become capital cities, innocent towns a source of menace, minor hamlets could provide the names of princes!
The day after the New Year ball, the Charnwood Grenadiers returned to their barracks with the pleasing news that the Marquisate of Bosworth had awarded the regiment some hand-stitched fabric oak-leaves to wear on their caps (oak leaves being a feature of the Bosworth family Coat of Arms). These had been made personally by the Marchioness and her ladies. The Duke pronounced himself delighted with the kind gesture and instructed that local seamstresses should make more as the regiment fills its ranks.Furthermore, the Charnwood Grenadiers would henceforth be always required to wear them when on parade.
Lady Eleanor had enjoyed the experience immensely until she was finally found by her governess asleep on a duchesse brisée chair, long before the end of the dancing. Her mother, the Duchess, was reportedly also found similarly exhausted on another chaise longue just prior to the evening’s conclusion, being attended to by a number of gallant male guests.
The Duke, meanwhile, couldn’t resist talking politics throughout the evening and showing off his new grenadiers to impress visitors from neighbouring states.
The Duke spent New Year’s Day meeting with a delegation from the Chamber of Commerce amongst a number of other mundane administrative chores. Her Grace the Duchess, Charlotte Augusta, spent a far more pleasant day by riding out with the Earl of Rutland who had stayed over at the Duke’s residence after the ball. The Duchess was well-known for enjoying riding with many other gentlemen. Indeed, Charlotte would frequently spend most of the day in this activity, returning (it is said) quite exhausted at the close of day…
Meanwhile, the training of new recruits to the Charnwood Grenadiers continues apace…