Monday, 30 June 2014

Last chance to enter my Special Give-away Competition.

Today is your last chance* to win a mounted knight miniature painted in your own personal livery or coat of arms. Details of the comp can be found (here). Remember you need to comment on that post, rather than this one, in order for your name to go into the proverbial hat (although I may actually use a real hat). 

I will be removing all the reminders for the competition from previous posts as there are few things more annoying than trying to enter a competition and then realising it's after the official closing date.

* If you're a thrill-seeking risk taker (or a professional procrastinator like me) who likes to leave things to the very last minute then you can probably still leave a comment (and therefore enter the comp) before 9.00pm GMT tomorrow - which is when my works computer will finally manage to boot up and when I'll record all the names onto my official competition sheet sheet.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Competition - Hurrah for me #winning

To misquote Ray Charles, for the last couple of years, if it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all. That's was until I read a blog where the author set the readers a test. 

The challenge was - could you identify the location of a certain battlefield somewhere in Europe from a single photograph! There were a number of clues but I also had a spot of luck on my side as I had visited the site in my youth (although I had also consumed a large amount of continental lager during the same trip so the memories were a bit hazy to say the least). 

Anyways I managed to correctly identify the site, the battle and main character involved.
The impressive hoard - I love free stuff.
The prize for winning was this rather impressive collection of goods, a lot of the books are in mint condition. The author of the blog, Tony, got in touch and sent the expertly wrapped parcel which arrived very shortly afterwards.

I'm currently working my way through this typical example of the generosity of the blogger community. Tony entertaining blog can be found (here). Thanks again Tony for posting an enjoyable and rewarding (for me at least) challenge.

Speaking of competitions, followers of my blog now have just under a week for a chance to win their own miniature, painted in their own personal coat of arms, details of which can be found (here).

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Medieval Bird Scarer, Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire.

This is the church of St John the Baptist Church in Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire. The church dates back to the 12th century although it been altered and added to over the passing centuries. 
St John the Baptist Church

Of particular interest in the church is a stained glass window, located on the south wall of the church, made up of several pieces of glass from various different periods. One piece displays the arms of de Clare family, perhaps most famous for building Caerphilly castle.
Arms of de Clare family
Below the Clare arms is shown the funeral of the Virgin Mary and the actions of a certain Jephonias. He attempted the overturn the coffin but became stuck fast. After a quick prayer to St Peter he was released and can be seen falling to the ground.
Bird Scarer
At the bottom of the window is a small circular piece of glass that is easily overlooked. It was only when a friendly local asked if I'd seen the 'Bird Scarer' that I went back for a closer look.

This image dates from the 14th century and is thought to depict a scene from the ' Labours of the Months' where we can see an agricultural worker engaged in the scaring off seed eating birds, probably in April during the planting season.

However, to my modern eye, armed with a sword and butler he seems quite overly equipped just to chase off any pests that are trying to eat his crops. If he is simply a humble bird scarer then I must admit he's very effective at his job, as you will notice there is a distinct lack of birds in the image.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sir Nicholas de Stafford, Crusader Miniatures

These models represents Sir Nicholas De Stafford.

These models represents Sir Nicholas De Stafford. Born about 1246 in Stafford, Staffordshire, England. de Stafford was sheriff of Staffordshire, married Anne de Langley and then Eleanor De Clinton. He was killed, along with several other knights, whilst inspecting a mine that had been tunneled under the walls of Rhys ap Maredudd’s Dryslwyn Castle during the siege in August 1287.

Both the mounted knight the the knight on foot are from Crusader Miniatures. You may have noticed that I have removed the tail from the horse. The reason for is is detailed in a post about Peter of Dreux.
Stone keep of Stafford Castle built by Ralph Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford
Later members of the family included Ralph Stafford, a founder member of the Order of the Garter, who became the1st Earl of Stafford. It was this particular Stafford that built the stone castle in 1347, the scant remains of which can been seen on top of the motte.

In 1444 Humphrey Stafford was created Duke of Buckingham, he was later killed at Battle of Northampton in July 1460.

The impressive remains of the motte and bailey can be seen from the M6 motorway between Junction 13 & 14.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

King Edward I, Curteys Miniatures

Seeing as he was born this day in history (in 1239 to be precise) I thought it would be appropriate to post this model which represents English King Edward I. 

Perhaps best known now for being responsible for building a chain of some of the most impressive castles in Britain. Conway, Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris castles still stand and dominate the landscape seven hundred years after their construction. 

I could write several posts about Edward each one detailing his involvement in the Baron Wars, both the Welsh and Scottish Wars, castle building, crusades, treatment of the Jewish population, the Eleanor Crosses. However all this information is available and better written online and in books, a particular good read is "A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain." by Marc Morris.

If anyone is curious as to why the surcoat is left plain white it's because I based the model on the illustration of Edward from Christopher Rothero's book, published by Osprey, Scottish and Welsh Wars 1250 - 1400. This image, I believe, is taken from the Great Seals of Edward which shows the king in a plain surcoat.

The model is from the Feudal Medieval - Western Europe range from Curteys Miniatures

The heraldry is from Wargame Transfers by Battle Flag details:
EDI/01 28mm Medieval Mounted Knight King Edward I Transfer Kit and Standard.
The technical description for the King's heraldry is 'Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or.'

Useful online references for Edward I:

Monday, 16 June 2014

Hugh (not quite) Poyntz, Crusader Miniatures & Curteys Miniatures

These models were supposed to represent Hugh Poyntz as part of my old 'Shaftsbury' series (if you can't remember, more details can be found here & here). I say supposed because it was whilst browsing through the excellent Brian Timms heraldry website - which you can find (here) I chanced upon the name of a certain Hugh Poyntz. It's such an unusual surname that I recognised it straight away as one of the names featured on the tiles from Shaftsbury abbey. I have already painted, quite a while back now, several knights to match these tiles including the figures shown here.

Unfortunately, well for me at least, is that fact the Timms site also shows colour illustrations of the coat of arms for the knights and said that Poyntz is 'Barry of eight or and gules' or in plain English 'red and yellow horizontal stripes'. 

From the note at Shaftsbury Abbey museum:
Arms: Barry of eight (eight horizontal bars)

The title probably commemorates either Sir Nicholas Poyntz who married Elizabeth, namesake of Dame Elizabeth, the last Abbess, who surrendered the Abbey in 1539; or his son Hugh who served in the Scottish wars and married Margaret Paynel of Brook, Westbury, Wiltshire; or their son Nicholas. There is a family chapel in Sutton Poyntz near Weymouth dating from the 13th century. 
Curteys Miniature
Unfortunately, well for me at least, is that fact the Timms site also shows colour illustrations of the coat of arms for the knights and said that Poyntz is 'Barry of eight or and gules' or in plain English 'red and yellow horizontal stripes'. 

Now some eagle eyed readers may have already noticed a slight discrepancy here. Yep, because I didn't check the accurately of the museum's display I've painted the model the wrong bleedin' colours. Doubts should be been raised as traditionally black cloth was very expensive to produce during the medieval period. However as I've not a complete rivet-countering anorak I'm not overly concerned. These figures are generally used to play skirmish style games loosely set during Second Baron War and the Welsh wars. I'm not limiting myself to characters that took part in these campaigns (which in itself can be quite difficult to research). I often just paint figures that I find interesting and attractive such as Peter of Dreux. Despite the figure looking quite striking I will probably paint another figure to match the historical Poyntz as he seems an interesting character. Plus it's quite similar to the heraldry of the Harcourt family which may add to the confusion (and fun) on the tabletop.

The mounted knight is from Crusader Miniatures and the knight on foot is a from Curteys Miniatures.
Crusader Miniature

Thursday, 12 June 2014

William de Harcourt, Fireforge Games

This figure represents William de Harcourt. As regular readers may realise that, especially when it involves medieval figures, I'm not total obsessed with obtaining absolute accuracy with my models and figures (life really is too short to stress over such matters). If I like the look of a chap's shield, he's in my miniature retinue. Bearing that in mind whenever I visit Worcester cathedral I try and take a look at the effigy of Robert de Harcourt (which isn't always easy as it is sometimes hidden behind panels and displays) which lies near to the tomb of King John. An image can be found (here
This heraldry appeals to me not only from a painting point of view but also because it is a simple, strong graphic image. I haven't been able to find that information about the Harcourt's during the 13th century but they do make a very interesting appearance in the 15th century. 

The Harcourt's were involved in a remarkable feud (even by the standards of the Wars of the Roses) that included the siege of Stanton Harcourt church in 1450. This is one of the few recorded armed assaults (i.e. where the building itself was attacked) on a church in British history, although others did take place in the English Civil War. This involved the Harcourt family, supported by the de la Pole family (this family was headed by the Duke of Suffolk) against members of a branch of the Stafford family (the head of the Stafford family being the Duke of Buckingham), both influential characters during that period. Although not set during the official time-frame of the game I hope to use this as an scenario in a game using Lion Rampant rules.

The model is from the Fireforge Games Teutonic mounted knights box set. I've removed the typical Teutonic horns (?) from the helmet to give it the figure a more English look.

If you surname name is Stafford, Harcourt or any in fact any other surname and you fancy a miniature painted in your own personal heraldic pattern please take a look at my special free-to-enter competition - details can be found (here).

Monday, 9 June 2014

New Studio Zoom Around!

For a more detailed look at the Empire Greatswords mentioned (around 2:30mins into the video) click (here).

Friday, 6 June 2014

Roger de Somery, Baron Dudley, Curteys Miniatures

This figure represents the local (to me at least) Baron of Dudley, Roger de Somery. 
Shield of arms for Sir Roger de Somery:
Or two lions passant azure.
Usefully, due to the lack of imagination when it came to thinking up original Christian names, this chap can represent a Roger de Somery throughout the 13th century. There are three barons named Roger de Somery, all associated with Dudley Castle. The cycle was finally broken by John who was apparently a Robber Baron (or a "bad 'un" as my nan would have said). At his death the Dudley estates passed, through marriage, to the Sutton family.
  • Roger de Somery I (d.1225),
  • Roger de Somery II (d.1272),
  • Roger de Somery III (c.1254-1291),
  • John de Somery (1280-1322).
Whoever controlled Dudley Castle were referred to as being King's Men, in the sense that they generally remained loyal to the king (although there are a few notable exceptions). 

In this short post I'm going to try briefly focus on the two later Rogers of the family. It was Roger de Somery II who supported King Henry III during the Barons' revolt, fought (and was captured) along side the King at the Battle of Lewis in 1264. As a reward to his loyalty he was granted permission to castellate his mansion (i.e. turn it into a castle).

Both the second and third Somery's took part in Edward I's campaign against the Welsh Prince Llwelyn ap Gruffudd and his brother Dafydd. After their deaths, another (one of the many during the late 13th century) revolt flared up this time lead by Rhys ap Maredudd of the Welsh royal house of Deheubarth in 1287-88. The English response was led by Earl Edmund of Cornwall as his brother, King Edward I, was overseas at the time. There were several notable sieges including that of Dryswlyn and Newcastle Emlyn castles with de Somery serving under the command of Roger Lestrange.

I have to admit I find it quite difficult keeping track of the Welsh princes and their actions. Not only because I find the names are difficult to pronounce but also because when the Welsh weren't fighting the English (and also fighting with the English), they were fighting amongst themselves.

I will hopefully go into more detail of this small slice of history in the future as I want to make it the basis of a gaming campaign using the forthcoming Lion Rampant rules from Osprey Publishing. So Rhys ap Maredudd may rise again and change the course of history.

The figure itself is from Curteys Miniatures from their 'Feudal Medieval - Western Europe' range.

The heraldry is hand painted and may initially look a bit odd particularly the lions. However it is based directly on the stained glass shaped heraldic medallion John de Somery which can be seen (Here). This glass is probably from the chapel, the remains of which can still be seen at Dudley Castle.

If you fancy your own piece of miniature family history, please feel free to entry my special give-away competition, details of which can be found (Here).

As today is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings I'd like to dedicate this post to my granddad Perks who died before I ever got a chance to really know him.

Like a great number of other veterans he never talked about the war to his family, including my dad obviously, even when asked. Funnily enough my dad said the only thing his dad mentioned about the war was that he spilt boiling water down his leg in an attempt to dodge taking part in the landings, the punch line being that he was sent anyway. I now believe this was his light-hearted attempt at avoiding talking about his own experiences because I know for a fact he served as a gunner on 25-pounders with the Royal Artillery. He fought all through Normandy, Belgium and eventually was part of the occupying forces in Germany. He always had a family reputation for being some what of a rogue so I suspect he told that story with his usual mischievous look in his eyes, which I can still picture. Anyway, rest in peace Granddad Perks.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Peres de Corbet, Curtey's Miniatures

This colourful little chap represents Peres de Corbet. The model is my first attempt at using a transfer on a medieval figure, which feels like a gift from the heavens after attempting to paint even relatively simply heraldry. I started with him simply because I often visit Moreton Corbet church and castle in Shropshire where you can still see similar heraldry of the local Corbet family. 

Peter Corbet, according to the excellent Brian Timms website, succeeded his father in 1300 fought at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 and may have been at Bannockburn, 1314. He may have also been present at the Battle of Boroughbridge, 1322 dying the same year. This model isn't quite 'right' in the terms of that he needs more plate armour on his legs and arms, although he may have been a slightly less off. It's probably more appropriate to represent his father (Thomas?).

The figure itself is from Curteys Miniatures from their 'Feudal Medieval - Western Europe' range. 

The transfer for this figure is from Battle Flag (Wargame Transfers) : 'EDI/07 28mm Medieval Mounted Knight Peres de Corbet Transfer Kit and Standard Waterslide transfer kit for Barding, Shield and figure detail plus archival quality paper flag.' 

This particular model was painted well over a year ago but I will be painting another similar figure soon'ish which I plan to video and will hopefully go online to support Ade's website and YouTube channel. 

If your name is Corbet then you may want to enter my special give-away competition to win a personalised model, details can be (Here). Don't worry even if your name isn't Corbet as I will be painting a model to suit the winner's surname.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Special Give-Away Competition

I've previously mentioned that I was working on a special (mainly because it's my first ever) give-away competition to reward the long suffering followers of this blog. After a great deal of thought I've finally managed to work out the details. So to put it simply:

The winner of this special give-away competition will receive a model of a 13th century style mounted medieval knight miniature painted in the follower's own personal coat of arms. 

To win this prize all you have to do is be a public follower of this blog and leave a comment below, even if it's something like, "Hi my blog is 'Garry's Blog' and I like winning free stuff, regards Garry." No tricky questions to answer (like how do you actually produce 'Ubique'), it really is as simple as that. 
Image for reference only. Unless the winner's real name is actually
Peter of Dreux then they won't be getting anything looking like this.
The winner will however win a model painted and finished to the same standard.
I have to admit that the idea for this comp isn't entirely original. The initial idea for all this came about having a chat, during a demo, to the makers of a new'ish medieval tournament game Crossed Lances at a recent show. They have started to introduce, in conjunction with Curteys Miniatures and  Battle Flag, branded sets of figures for their game and mentioned in passing that they'd eventually like to produce individual transfers for their customers (it is also mentioned somewhere in the rulebook). I thought I could use this idea to make and paint a unique figure for one of followers of my blog. I'd like to point out that I have no personal connection to the Crossed Lances game or to the creators of the game, two nice and very knowledgeable gents called Peter Bradford and Martin Knight. So if they happen to enter and win there has been no sneaky deals or tricks behind the scenes, honest.

I'm currently working on a similar project for my dad which I know is destined to go straight into his display cabinet. So even if you don't play medieval games or use different size figures then I still hope you will take part, even if the model will simply end up in a display cabinet or given away as a gift to a member of your family.

Now then the all important Terms & Conditions which I recommend you actually read in full because (most of) it will be relevant: 
  • This competition is free to enter. 
  • One entry per follower. 
  • Entries (i.e. comments below) must be in before 1st July 2014. 
  • This competition is open to all followers of the blog, so whether you've been following since the start (blimey, way back in late 2008) or from just a few minutes before midnight on 30th June 2014 GMT all are welcome to take part.
  • The winning entry will be chosen at random by myself or by a glamorous assistant (if I can find one). 
  • I will paint for the winner a single 13th century style mounted medieval knight miniature. Either a plastic or medal 28mm sized model will be used, depending on what I think is suitable for the winner's heraldry but probably a plastic FireForge model (see model above). 
  • The model will painted especially for you and finished to my own usual standard i.e. one I'd be happy to display online as one of my own collection (again see model above). It won't be a rushed job so it might take a while to complete (so don't moan if you have't received it within a few days of the close of the comp). 
  • I will be painting the model by hand, by this I mean I won't be using transfers for any of the heraldry details. 
  • The heraldry will be displayed on the shield and on the horses barding but, unless it is a very simple design, not of the figure's surcoat. I will produce a model based on a similar format to that seen on the Great Seal of Edward I. 
  • I will finish the base to my normal standard (painted sand, tufts and grass) if required. If you'd prefer an unfinished base and would rather it left blank in order that you can match your own models, no problem (less work for me). 
  • The model will be varnished to a matte finish. If you prefer high gloss, again no problem, just let me know.
  • The prize cannot be exchanged for a cash equivalent (which I think would be quite rude and probably get you blocked if you even asked, cheeky bugger). 
  • As I realise that not everyone is not fortunate to live in the Black Country, or even the English Midlands (I know blimey, you poor souls, you only get to drink stuff like Fosters, Carling or Stella) so if you win and you don't happen to live in this blessed region, don't worry, I will post the prize internationally and it still won't cost you a penny (nor a nickel, peso or euro). 
  • If you play fantasy games you may, if you wish, have a fantasy style heraldry pattern such as a half ogre/half flying trout combo etc. but the figure used will be still be a 13th century style model. 
  • There is one special rule - if a lady wins then the I'll throw in an extra prize mainly because I like ladies and they generally smell nicer than blokes. I'd prefer to call this positive discrimination, rather than being sexist. After a few unpleasant experiences at some shows and in a number of GW and independent hobby shops (such as walking into a solid 'wall of stink') I'd like to encourage more women to share in our hobby if only to encourage better general hygiene levels. 
  • Speaking of poor hygiene, my nephew young Barry is not allowed to enter. 
  • I will announce the winner in the first week of July (the best month the year - obviously). 
  • The winner, and only the winner, will need to provide me with some of their personal details e.g. only the obvious and nothing too personal (I don't really need to know your inside leg measurement or your mother's maiden name for example) but surname (unless they want a fantasy scheme), email and postal address spring immediately to mind. Only enough information so I can paint the figure with a suitable heraldic design, keep you informed of the stages of progress and finally, of course, know exactly where to send the model to. This information will not be passed on to anyone else nor will it be sold to an annoying marketing company.
  • If you leave a comment and enter the comp then you agree to the above Terms & Conditions. 
Now to deal with the potentially tricky/fun part: The vast majority of people do not have a personal or family coat of arms. You may have an image printed out from one of those commercial companies that will sell you the history of your family name and a rather nice picture of your family heraldry. I've seen at least three totally different images presented for my own family name, so I personally suspect they simply make a lot of these things up (apologies if you already have one of these). If in any doubt about that statement, enter your own surname into Google Images and see how many different results you get. 

On my travels wandering around many old medieval churches, often in tiny villages in the middle of nowhere, one thing I've noticed is that the coat of arms of the great medieval families are normally very simple/geometric patterns. For instance the Beauchamp, Mortimer, de Clare, de Vere, Hastings, Woodville families etc. all had very simple, and the important bit, easily identifiable coat of arms. Is this an attempt at a cop out of painting complex heraldry, again no. If the lucky winner wants me to use one of these commercial available images as a design reference that's no problem. If the winner doesn't have a particular design in mind then I'm quite prepared to research it for them and come up with a few suggestions. 

Free feel to advertise this comp/give-away on your own blogs. It would be jolly nice of you and it would of course be greatly appreciated. However you will still only get one entry as I like to think of my online blogging empire, my own Ubiquetopia, as an loosely democracy-based benevolent dictatorship rather than some kind of banana republic with crazy multiple voting options. As stated above - one entry per follower. You will of course be technically decreasing your odds of winning by promoting the competition but you will also be acting 'nice' and being 'nice' is good thing.

There may (note the use of the word 'may') be a runners up prize but which will depend on the number of entries (it's my blog = my rules. It's my 'loosely democracy-based benevolent dictatorship' remember). This runner up prize will be triggered after a reasonable number of entries (I know, it's almost like a Kickstarter style comp), I'm thinking once around twenty/thirty entries but I'm going to be flexible with this. If only two people enter for instance then I'm not going to be particularly inclined to paint another prize but if all the blog followers enter (200+) I may even produce several runner-up prizes (my dictatorial benevolence knows no bounds).

In the near future I will also be running a similar competition/give away type thingy to promote the new medieval skirmish game Lion Rampant which is being released be Osprey Publishing but that competition will have slightly different T&C's, entry conditions and very likely a far broader scope for potential contestants, with use of various social media with multiple entries allowed for and you won't need to be a follower of this particular blog. 

So this personal coat-of-arms comp/give-away is more of a reward scheme for followers of this blog (and this competition, in my opinion, has a better prize because it will be a personalised, unique model for the winner) plus you'll have a potentially far better chance of winning. 

Now hopefully you will have realised that I won't be making a penny from all this, quite the opposite in fact. So why, you may reasonably ask, do it at all? Well the answer is simple. I've had an awful lot of enjoyment and entertainment from all the other blogs that I follow and read so I'd like to give something back to the online community and 'pay it forward'. This may all sound a bit Hollywood/soap opera spiel (or "a load of old cobblers" as my granddad would have said) but I think the users of the Bloggosphere (all the other online blogger systems such as Wordpress and the like, not just Blogspot, are included in this) are quite special in their approach and spirit. Online forums and YouTube, although very useful at times, can often deteriorate into an aggressive bun fight or echo the antics of an unruly schoolyard. Bloggers always seem to be universally positive (apart from the occasional rants) and very generous in their comments and advice, plus they always seem to be giving goodies away. So if you can't beat them, join them.

So anyway thanks for reading down to this bit, thanks for entering (if you do) and good luck.