Thursday, 30 September 2010

Damaged Sconce

As I was recently in a 'terrain' mood I finally finished this particular modular section of the sconce model I worked on this time last year. As I'd earlier made a section of damaged linking section I thought it would be more likely that a corner section would also suffer damage - hence this model shown below.

The gaps are wide enough for a 40mm sq base to pass though easily. The ramps created by the fallen earth have been made so that figures will stay in place if they haven't quite managed to breach the walls. I deliberately kept this model free from battle clutter but I'm now tempted to add a few details such as broken swords, muskets etc.

Previous posts relating to the construction of the models and the history of the real thing can be foun

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bridgnorth, Shropshire

Compiling the previous blog entry for the Baxter house I realised I was trying to put too much information into a singular post about a model building. Therefore here is a separate post relating more to the town of Bridgnorth itself.

Looking at the St. Leonard’s Close today you would find it hard to believe that it had ever witnessed scenes of extreme violence. On the 8th March 1646 during the English Civil War Parliamentarian besiegers broke through the churchyard defenses and a running battle developed. The town commander Colonel Billingsley and twenty five of his men were killed defending this area from the Parliamentary forces. Later during the same siege, when the church was then being used by the Parliamentarians as an ammunition store, a shot from the castle caused an explosion that destroyed most of the building and started a fire that damaged a large area of the upper town. The body and tower of this now redundant church are mainly Victorian although some traces of medieval building still survive.

St. Leonard's church, the Richard Baxter house is just round the corner to the left of this picture. 

Just a short distance away to the south of the St Leonard’s sits, at a jaunty angle, the town’s castle. In 1642, King Charles I described the view from here at Castle Walk as 'the finest in my domain'. Little remains of the castle apart from the famously tilted (15° off the vertical) Norman stone keep. It always makes me smile thinking about the Parliamentarian engineers seeing the keep as the dust settled, after all their efforts to slight it. I imagine they simply scratched their heads, threw down their pickaxes and walked away either cursing or praising their medieval counterparts.
If you look carefully you may notice the iron hooks on the outside of the left hand wall. It is believed these were added during the ECW siege so that mattresses and other padding could be hung off them to soften the blows from artillery shot coming from the direction of the church.

The TV series Time Team excavated the Castle gardens to the left and behind this picture, looking for any remains of the bailey, and found absolutely bugger all.

On a strange and darker note, fairly recently (2005) papers relating to Operation Sealion were discovered in Germany. These indicated that if Hitler and his Nazi henchmen had conquered Britain Bridgnorth was a proposed location for the German headquarters. Factors such as its central location, good road and rail links, nearby airfield and a small local population were considered to have made it an ideal, and relatively safe, administration centre for the midlands. It’s quite a sobering thought to imagine German jackboots goose-stepping up and down the quintessentially English high street.

View from the Railwaymans Arms looking towards the castle grounds. The keep is immediately to the left of the tallest tree in the background.

On a far less sober note, there are numerous decent pubs throughout the town, but one I would recommend is the Railwaymans Arms. Located on the platform of Bridgnorth station, at the north terminus of the Severn Valley Railway line, it’s very atmospheric even if you don’t particularly like steam trains. Depending on what time you visit it can be like walking into a museum or a film set. And of course the beer is excellent. The pub also gives you a good view of both the castle and the siege earthworks, now called Pan Pudding Hill, built by Henry I in 1102 and located just on the other side of the railway tracks. There is a modern footbridge from the castle gardens over the main road which will take you right to the station.

If you don't want to walk that far then the The White Lion Inn on West Castle Street (yep, near the castle) is also worth visiting.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Richard Baxter's House, Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

Born in Rowton, Shropshire, Richard Baxter (1615-1691) has been described as the “chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. A Puritan theologian, church leader, poet, hymn writer, he lived in Bridgnorth for almost two years from 1640 – 1641. 

By 1638 Baxter became a master at a free grammar school in Dudley were he started his ministry, after being ordained and licensed by the bishop of Worcester (anybody else notice how often I crowbar Dudley references into my posts?). He moved to Bridgnorth shortly before the outbreak of the English Civil War (ECW). During the war Baxter was a chaplain for Colonel Edward Whalley’s Regiment. He later turned down an offer from Cromwell to become the chaplain for the NMA Ironsides.

Much later in life he had a rather unpleasant encounter with George Jefferies, now better known as the Hanging Judge after his suppression of the supporters of the Duke of Monmouth after the Battle of Sedgemoor.

Richard Baxter's House in St. Leonard’s Close.
The model detailed below is based on the home of Baxter in St. Leonard’s Close, Bridgnorth.
I don't know how this is possible but my photographs are actually getting worse. These images were taken straight after each other.

The simple frame work for this model was particularly easy to make but the gable window proved to be tricky. Having previously drawn the plans helped a great deal, however it was still a matter to fudging the final pieces together using far too much glue. I also had problems with my wooden coffee stirrers. It appears that ADSA changed their supplier or spec. The latest batch was noticeably thinner than previous ones I had procured. The only solution involved a great deal of sanding down to match the stirrers sourced (I’m running out of euphemisms for stealing here) in Starbucks which are generally longer and thicker and yes, I do need to get out more.

Perhaps I should do a full report on the different available coffee stirrers with comparison shots and prices (of a standard cappuccino) and post it on TMP....perhaps not.

I added green stuff to look like lead lining where the chimney stack meets the roof and and the gable roof. It also helps hide any dodgy joint lines

Warlord Games Puritan preacher (unfinished) shown for scale.

The model was painted using Citadel Foundation and Vallejo colours. As the house was the home of a famous Puritan I decided to keep the colour scheme very simple.

As the model, unlike the real house, is free standing I had free reign over the design of side walls. The unusual looking chimney feature on the side wall was taken from the Elizabethan gatehouse on Leicester’s castle grounds. This detail had caught my eye on a previous day trip so I decided to recreate something similar here. The brickwork runs flush with the wall and appears to have been skimmed over at some point.
Gate House, Castle Yard, Leicester
There are only a few more buildings/structures I would like to complete but I really need to concentrate on reducing the amount of forlorn figures waiting to be painted.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Surprise, Surprise.

I had a very unexpected pleasant surprise when I opened the latest newsletter from Warlord Games earlier this weekend. Featured amongst the various articles was one starring figures from this very blog.

The photos were actually taken at the Black Powder promotion held at Maelstrom Games way back in March. In the subsequent newsletter a photograph and a brief mention appeared (you’ll have to scroll right to the bottom of the article to find it) so I didn’t give it much thought afterwards. In truth it actually became somewhat of a running joke between my friends who had also attended the event at Maelstrom. This is because they knew that the nice chappy from Warlord, Paul Sawyer, had actually spent at least 20-25 minutes taking photographs for just one to appear on the t’internet. There nothing quite like having your mates taking the mickey to keep your feet firmly on the ground. So it was very satisfying to see the rest of the photographs appear on-line.

The Warlord photos are far superior to any of my crappy efforts. Paul had an interesting portable studio setup – basically it was a small white solid plastic storage box with one side cut away and small lamps clamped to the sides. I don’t have the resources to buy a suitable camera at the moment so that will have to wait until the future.

So don’t worry faithful followers, even though the very flattering article gave me a severe ego boost, I’ll still try to maintain and update this humble blog for your viewing entertainment (if I can find time to pry myself away from my adoring public, of course).

Right, that's enough of me blowing my own trumpet, I've got a large amount of little toy soldiers that need painting.