Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester

Today myself and my partner took the opportunity to try out the new Richard III visitor centre in Leicester. It's quite easy to find being immediately opposite Leicester Cathedral. They've also moved the original statue of Richard from its old place in Castle Park to outside the centre where it can be more easily seen.
Tickets for the exhibition can be purchased online with allocated slots throughout the day. Probably a good idea, as it keeps a manageable amount of visitors within the centre and means folks aren't elbowing each other to get a view. First part of the exhibition is taken up by a replica throne room and the story of Richard III projected onto a video screen behind.
To the right was a gallery exhibit of Graham Turner's Medieval paintings, which I found to be really fantastic. You can view his work online here:
Going upstairs is where the centre really comes into its own. With a detailed account of Richard III's portrayal throughout history and literature, followed by the attempts to locate his remains. Anyone who's seen the recent TV documentaries will already be aware of the painstaking process investigators went through to find living relatives and source DNA matches. Towards the end we have a fantastic reconstruction of Richard's armour at Bosworth (done in white plastic, as some of the metal working techniques originally used have apparently been lost) and a skeletal reconstruction with descriptions of his wounds. Finally there's a lovely chapel like construction with a glass floor and the actual Greyfriars Abbey excavation beneath a glass floor with the bones outlined in light. At the back is an inscription taken from Richard III's 'Book of Hours Prayer' and a bouquet of White Roses.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Battle of Bosworth - 15mm

Today saw the Club recreate The Battle of Bosworth in 15mm using Dave's nicely home crafted 'Blood and Glory' Rules. Chris was responsible for organizing the game and based it primarily on Glenn Foard and Anne Curry's book "Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered". As the title suggests it's based on some of the most up to date archeological evidence.

The opposing sides were arrayed with Richard III atop Ambion Hill, Norfolk to the front and Northumberland in the rearward. The Yorkist forces faced to advance down Fenn Lane, off the hill and with the notorious marsh on their left. Henry Tudor and his men were placed with their right flank below Crown Hill and anchoring it to the tip of the marsh. On the left were the Welsh with Rhys Ap Thomas and a French force. The Stanley's were situated in Dadlington and to the back and rear of Henry's extreme right on top of Crown Hill. Both Paul and Rich were playing the Stanley's and naturally were reflecting the part by not yet revealing their allegiance.

Myself, Lawrence and Barry decided on a Yorkist advance that would make use of our numerical strength and hopefully envelope Henry's left wing. Barry as Norfolk pushed the vanguard forward as Gary (Henry) sent Chris and the Welshmen to intercept. In this sense they used their right wing as a pivot to sweep across Fenn Lane and block us (see below).

The Stanley's meanwhile started to shift their men across Crown Hill, but it still wasn't clear if they were intending to engage either side. Nevertheless, as the Yorkists moved to confront the Lancastrian threat, it was deemed necessary to use Northumberland's rearward units to cover a possible threat from them if they decided to cross the marsh.

By this time Norfolk had crashed into the Welsh with some ferocity, and whereas the Yorkists initially received a bloody nose due to some excellent dice rolling from Chris, it was when Norfolk's men started to charge in with their Men at Arms that things looked shaky for the Lancastrians. Added to this was the archery duel now developing between Richard III's main battle and him swinging his cavalry into a gap in the lines ready to punish the Lancastrian crossbowmen.

The Stanley's at this stage started to arrange themselves into a formation that looked ready to attack the Yorkist by way of lining their archers to fire over the marsh. By this time the tension was at breaking point and Northumberland (Lawrence) took the opportunity to pre-empt the strike by loosing his bowmen at them. This encouraged plenty of return fire, as the archers shot back and forth the casualties mounted on both sides. The Lancastrian left flank then started to disintegrate as morale checks left the Welsh running for home and Norfolk's men pushed onward. About this time the Bodyguard of Richard III led by a gallant Earl of Surrey burst into the Lancastrian centre, grinding down two units before getting embroiled in a serious set-to with Henry's own mounted Men at Arms. Luckily both units bounced back after more casualties and withdrew to regroup. However, it came within a sword tip of Henry's own person (history repeating itself?) and Gary decided that the Lancastrian forces would find it hard to carry on and so began to fall back on Crown Hill.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Imperial War Museum Refurbishment

Many folks have probably noticed in the news that the Imperial War Museum in London has undergone a big refurbishment recently. Myself and my partner had the fortunate opportunity to drop down there last weekend (actually she went off to the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Disney Store with a mate, whilst me and my pal Doug went to the IWM!). Anyway, I was immediately struck by how extensive the revamp is. The entrance area is much more light and airy, whilst each individual exhibition has been expanded. The WW1 exhibit was rammed out with a long line of folks stretching round the main hall. I was probably the most impressed by the area now dedicated to the Holocaust. This part of the Museum now exerts the kind of powerful impact the subject deserves. Unfortunately I didn't realise that the area didn't allow photos until I stepped out, but I expect it's primarily to prevent the kind of inappropriate silly tourist photos that people take on occasion. I'd hope mine below at least influence more intelligent and serious people to visit the exhibition.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

28mm AWI - Battle of Germantown

Last Sunday the Club decided to revisit the bloody fields of the American War of Independence using the Musket and Tomahawk rules. The Battle of Germantown saw an attempt by the American forces spring a surprise attack on the British Camp through thick fog. In the game we reduced the range of spotting down to 12" to compensate for the weather conditions. The British would need to use their pickets to alert the Camp and hope the Americans wouldn't get too much of a march across the table before the Brits could rouse their forces. Other than pickets of Light Infantry they'd only got a regiment of Regular troops and one regiment of horse, so using these to hold back the tide would be crucial. Myself and Ian played the British and Hessians while Simon and Lawrence were the Americans.

Muskets and Tomahawks being a card turn based game, unfortunately the Americans got their fair share of good luck and pushed aside the British pickets. Our regulars decided not to mimic history and instead of holding up in Chew House, they withdrew and formed line across the road leaving the town. After only one desultory volley the Americans charged into them scattering all before their onslaught. The British horse only did little better by rushing across to engage an enemy unit which they severely mauled, but ultimately had to give way to sheer numbers pushing down the road. It took some tense turns thereafter as the messengers finally issued the alert to the British Commander - in fact the Americans were only a few yards away before the Hessians and Highland troops managed a firing line and blasted their first units in view.

The whole British end of the field became a bloodied mangled mess of hand to hand fighting, especially as the British Rangers were reluctant to yield a small wood on the right flank which was causing a nuisance to the American advance. In the final moments George Washington himself had to order a unit of Elite troops into the undergrowth to finish the job, leaving two American Provincial units mulling their heavy casualties.

In conclusion, another fun game with plenty of "edge of your seat" moments. I think if the British had been successful in raising an alarm a turn or so earlier, so they could properly organise their formations, the day would have been theirs.