A fantastic opportunity

This week, my English Civil War re-enactment unit, Sir Richard Grenvile’s Troop of Horse have been working with the Life Guards of the Household Cavalry.

On Tuesday we were invited to tour their barracks, including the kit store, forge, saddlery and stables, and four of our number took the riding assessment test in their school.  Photographs from the barracks visit may not be shared publicly, but it was a very interesting visit.  We got to handle Princess Anne’s Gold Stick, with the arms of King William IV engraved thereon and various other priceless pieces of kit.

A piece of trivia.  The kettle drums borne by the drum horses are cast as a single piece of about 100Kg of silver.  One set, cast in the reign of William IV, has a fault in that part of the V in the royal cypher is missing.  It was not noticed until after the moulds were destroyed, and so remains missing until this day.

More trivia.  The Household Cavalry band uniform has three large cloth spherical buttons on the cuff.  These are said to date from when Queen Victoria spotted a bandsman with a blemish on his cuff from where he had wiped his nose.  The buttons inhibit similar activity.

For my Napoleonic friends, I enquired why the kit store contains a French Napoleonic sabre-briquet.  Our guide said it was a personal gift to him as a champagne bottle-opener.

In the afternoon we presented to some of the troopers of the Life Guards a brief history of the English Civil War, how we re-enact it as cavalry, their regiment’s role in the battle of Roundway Down, and the uniform, arms and equipment of the 1640s.

On Thursday we met again at the battlefield of Roundway Down.  Three of our number, in full C17th uniform and on Household Cavalry horses, led a dozen Life Guards in “country riding kit” around the battlefield for about four hours, showing them the important sites.  Afterwards the Life Guards troopers were instructed by me in loading and firing C17th pistols with blank re-enactment cartridges.

A few pictures of the day’s activities below.

Mounting up.dscf0012

Ready to go


Video of the troop returning to the stables:

C17th Pistol trainingignition-close-up

One man who you would never challenge to a duel.dont-challenge-me-to-a-duel

With grateful thanks to the Life Guards for a wonderful experience, and one upon which we hope to build for the future.


Today I have been mostly…

…watching old videos transferred to DVD with a consequent loss of quality and speech synchronisation.

Most of the material I have been watching is based around my English Civil War reenactment.  I have videos dating from BBC programmes in 1980, when I took up the hobby, through to 2016.  Some are of my own society, the English Civil War Society, and some are of the better known Sealed Knot, including footage taken by me as a visitor.

It’s very interesting to see how our representations of uniform and battle tactics have developed over the 36 years that I have been involved in this hobby.   These things develop not only through research, but also the latest “fashionable correct” propaganda. It’s also fun to see how young we all looked in the 1990s!
There is a purpose to my concentration on the English Civil War stuff, which will become clear later this week.

Sparky’s life

This is the first of the blog postings by my dog, Sparky.  He is a labrador/collie crossbreed and around three years old.  Since February, when we acquired him from the Dog’s Trust rehoming centre, he has been contributing his view of life on Facebook (under the guise of his master, Paul Wisken).

He has now asked me to include his posts in my blog.

“Sparky says:

HE is a rotter. Not a Rottweiler, but a simply a rotter.

HE hid My Ball.  HE said a lot of blah blah blah and then got out the noisy grass-chomping toy.  HE said “No Ball blah blah” and started to play with HIS toy.  I could smell My Ball but could not get to it.  I jumped up on the box where HE hid it, but it was all shut.

I tried and tried and HE made a “ha-ha-ha” noise.

After ever such a long time [reality check: about ten minutes] HE put away the noisy toy and found My Ball.

It was nice to have the Ball back but I want to tell the “Not-Just-For-Christmas” people that HE HID MY BALL and that is not what We agreed.  HE does not love Me.

Later HE took me out in the car and We went to a shop and bought tasty treats.  Maybe HE loves me again now.”

More from Sparky in the future.




An engagement at Postling

Continuing the saga of Operation Sealion, it is now 10:00 am on 17th September 1940 and British reinforcements moving towards Lympne run into a German Parachute Battalion near Postling.

Here is the battle report.  In hindsight it appears from the photographs that the spitfire mentioned in the report is actually a hurricane, but as far as the Germans were concerned it felt like a spitfire!

Word document: battle-report-j-postling-17-sep-1000-1200

PDF: battle-report-j-postling-17-sep-1000-1200



Recent activity

So, what have I been up to since my last posting?

Apart from spending five days at Blenheim Palace for the horse trials (see facebook post from my dog:  https://www.facebook.com/paul.wisken.7/posts/953008101487847?notif_t=like&notif_id=1473884147211044), during which I drafted the rules for my new game “Bomber”,  I have been painting models and constructing terrain.

For Bomber I have been painting up 14 1/600 Lancaster bombers and some 1/1000 buildings.  At the same time I have painted 5 GHQ 1/285 Shermans and about two dozen 30mm Plastic Spencer Smith Grenadiers.  I also painted two regiments of 6mm MDF figures for ny “in period” Napoleonic games.

My new method of getting things done is to leave new purchases on the painting table until they are ready, even if I have moved on to a new interest while waiting for delivery of the models.

For the ongoing Operation Sealion campaign I have made some new hexagon tiles for the engagement at Postling (see the image with this post).  Several new hedged roads were needed for this scenario.

So, what for the future?

More MDF figures to be painted, mainly cavalry.  Bombers to be finished, and JU88 night fighters to be started.  many more 1/1000 buildings to be painted and based.  Rules for Bomber to be playtested.