Thursday, 8 November 2012

Great Round Tower Hourding

This is the latest WIP for my 'little' Great Round Tower side project. The Tower itself isn't finished but I have managed to complete the hourding itself (hurrah!).
Hourding Detail

The colour choice for the tiles was easy, these were simply painted to resemble slate. As I've previously stated I had intended to finish the woodwork a more standout colour scheme, namely red. And I did indeed paint this part of the model red. Not entirely happy with the results I left the model alone while I was trying to figure out the stairway and entrance (in fact, this is still very much an ongoing problem).

However on a recent holiday in the south east of England I had a chance of mind. On the very last day of our visit (we finally managed to visit thirteen castles in total, that's not counting forts, towers, churches, manor houses and other historic sites) we arrived at Dover castle, still one of the largest and most impressive castles in the country.

It was within the great square tower itself at Dover where I had the opportunity to speak to one of the guides. The interior of the keep has been recreated to how it may have looked during the time of Henry II's reign. Ironically (at least I thought so) as the building is listed the walls couldn't be painted so the wall hangings have been introduced to give the impression of the colour scheme. Every detail would have been made to impress, including the choice of the colours. Blue, green and red painted furniture would have cost a small fortune. The guide informed me that, for instance, the blue colour would have been made with lapis lazuli which was sourced from as far away as northeastern Afghanistan. Green was made from the mineral malachite.

It was with this in mind that I decided to repaint the hourdings to resemble plain wood. As I had previously wasted a small pot of Citadel paint with my previous effort I headed to the nearby DIY store (B&Q) and purchased a few test pots of emulsion. I eventually ended up using Crown Ultimate Cream Dark matte finish. The colour is quite similar the Citadel's Baneblade Brown but at around £1.50 for 75ml for a test pot is a bargain, especially if you're painting a large scale object, but I would recommend watering them down slightly.

The hourdings were painted in the new colour scheme but with a small exception. Next time you visit a castle take a look above the main gateway. Sometimes you can spot the builder's family coat of arms carved in stone. Nice examples can still be seen at Bodiam castle.

Wardeux, Dalyngrigge and Radynden family shields. The carving above the shields represents the castle's builder, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, tilting helmet complete with unicorn.

There are also several very large (modern) kite shields above the King's (?) gateway at Dover. So I thought I'd try and recreate something similar. Coincidently Dover had been defended by Hubert de Burgh, builder of Skenfrith, against Prince Louis in the great siege of 1216 (and again in 1217). I painted the vertical timber pieces using the coat of arms of de Burgh as a refernce. The unusual pattern, known as vair, is based on heraldic representation of patches of squirrel fur in an alternating pattern of blue and white.

"The squirrel in question is a variety of the red squirrel. In the coldest parts of Northern and Central Europe the winter coat of this squirrel is blue-grey on the back and white on the belly, and was much used for the lining of cloaks called mantles. It was sewn together in alternating cup-shaped pieces of back and belly fur, resulting in a pattern of grey-blue and grey-white which, when simplified in heraldic drawing and painting, became blue and white in alternating pieces." - Wikipedia

Happily there were two timber uprights that were positioned either side of the doorway, this enabled me to place a shield centrally above the doorway (this was down to pure luck rather than design). The shield is a taken from a Google Images file of de Burgh's coat of arms, stuck to a piece of cardboard and then trimmed to size. Now I only have to worry about making that infuriating entrance porch and the curved flight of steps!


  1. That just looks wonderful! Great job!


  2. That's really coming on, I am very impressed


  3. Oh yes, this is coming along quite nicely. Clearly you are inspired by the architecture you've been seeing of late.

  4. Superb! This is turning into another stunning project - fantastic work.

  5. Thanks for the comments. I hope to finish this model off as soon as possible as it's starting to get frustrating. The quicker I can figure out the technical issues the better.