Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sconce (or random ECW side project) - Part 1

In 1796 two future Presidents of the United States stood on a small hill and addressed a group of people saying, “And do ...men so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for? Tell your neighbors and your children that this is holy ground, much holier than that on which your churches stand. All ... should come in pilgrimage to this hill, once a year."

John Adams, accompanied by Thomas Jefferson, wasn’t referring to Bunker Hill or any other location associated with the recent War of Independence but a small area just a few minutes walk south east of Worcester cathedral. This hill is now a small park, but it does contain the scant remains of Fort Royal.

On 3rd September 1641 Fort Royal was a key location during the final battle of the Civil War. It was built overlooking Sidbury Gate, the main southern entrance into the city. Once the fort was overrun by the Essex militia the guns were turned on the Royalists as they, including King Charles himself, ran through the streets of Worcester to escape.In David McCullough’s biography of John Adams he describes the future President as being "deeply moved" but disappointed at the locals' lack of knowledge of the battle and gave the locals an "impromptu lecture".

Things haven't changed too much over the years. A friend of mine lives in a flat right next to the park containing the fort. She knew of the fort existed but she wasn't aware of the history changing events that had occurred there. When my brother and myself went to have a look we managed to work out the position of some of the earthwork embankments. Roughly half of the fort has now been lost through housing developments, but due to the very nature of their construction hardly any of this type of fortification have survived. A notable exception is the Queen's Sconce in Newark. A detailed illustration is shown in Osprey’s ‘English Civil War Fortifications 1642-51 (Volume 9 of Fortress range).

Staring out the window at work I can see a small plot of land where earth had been piled up to form something that looks like a earthwork fort. With a few minutes to spare I sketched a plan of a fort and quickly realised that to create the distinctive arrow bastions is easy using a CAD system. Scouting round the office I found a few bits and pieces I could use, expanded polystyrene foam (used to as packing) and various MDF panels. In a short time I knew I could make a small fort. After spending more time detailing the plans I was then able to transfer the plans onto the MDF panels.

I'm planning on having a small straight section of embankment measuring 155 x 75mm (should have been 150mm long but you can’t be too fussy when it’s free). The illustrations from the period tend show the forts being almost square in plan view. A 'complete' fort i.e. four bastions, would measure 655mm square, in my miniature world, although I only intend to make one side, or two bastions with the relevant wall sections.

Two boards showing basic outline of fort bastions. To achieve the same look shown in the Osprey book the bastions will have to be a mirror image of each other. There will be, eventually, a small section of wall 155mm long placed in between the main boards.

Each individual board measures 250 x 250 x 4mm thk.

Cross section showing the construction and base. The expanded polystyrene (EPS) board is taken from spare packing hence why I've had to cut and carve the shapes.  The smaller square on top of the foam board is 40 x 40mm (standard infantry base) to give a sense of scale.

Missing corner in place.

Incomplete corner bastion, waiting for upper wall section. The EPS boards are pinned together using barbeque sticks.

Updates for this project may be pretty random as I'm trying my hardest to get the ECW figures painted, so they will have priority.
A very interesting website worth visiting is Fortified Places

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