Friday, April 24, 2009

St George's Day interest...

So St George's Day has been and gone, and how was it for you? From out of nowhere, there seemed to be a whole load of interest in the idea this year - not sure where this came from even now! From my own perspective I just wondered "why??"... ah well maybe I'm just getting old and cycnical... bread and circuses and all that....

..BUT.... one interesting side effect of this was that the local village decided to hold a parade to mark the day, and therefore encouraged all the local shops & traders to put up flags and such, and dress their windows to mark the occasion. So what was so interesting about that I hear you all ask, well have a look at what turned up in the window of the Antique Shop..

...and of course I had to take my camera (and that in itself caused the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer to look at me in that way that ladies have when faced with incipient lunacy or dementia, and utter the immortal words "don't be stupid, they'll think you're planning a robbery"!)

First up they had an actual honest to goodness Land Pattern Musket, or Brown Bess, this one (as you can see) was labelled early 18th century - if it was early 18th they'd discovered percussion caps a whole lot earlier than I thought they had! According to Wikipedia "The British Ordnance System converted many Flintlocks into the new Percussion system known as the Pattern 1839 Musket." So I think that more correctly, this one should be labelled as that...

Next up a tunic and hat combination - nothing like a bit of British scarlet on St. George's day! The tunic is probably from the Coldstream's as the buttons are spaced in pairs, and the buttons also have the correct markings for that august regiment - what confirms it though is the hat as that has the right cap badge. I'm assuming it's probably the "undress" cap, as normally they would wear the busby or bearskin. Whoever owned this jacket had won some kind of order as there is a fitting for it on the left breast..

No mistaking this uniform, which took pride of place in the window - can't see the buttons, but the coat had dark blue cuffs (signifying a Royal Regiment) and given the breastplate and helmet I've assumed this is a uniform coat and equipment for the Life Guards the most senior regiment in the British army and part of the Household Cavalry - a truly splendid sight when close up..

Bit more difficult this one as I didn't get close enough to check the buttons - if the uniform goes with the hat however, it's the Oxfordshire Regiment - but - my information tells me that their uniform had Buff facings and this one has dark blue. If it's a guards regiment then the single buttons would indicate Grenadier Guards.. I'll have a closer look on my way home this evening and advise later... note a longer view of the Brown Bess on the left, and a view of me taking a picture to case the joint reflected in the window!

Last one - and in many ways the most interesting one - a model 1853 Enfield muzzle loading rifle, converted at some point to become a Snider-Enfield breech loader - the Wikipedia article is good on this one. The original muzzle loader was the weapon implicated in the cause of the Indian Mutiny, but in addition was the Confederate's most imported weapon during the American Civil War. This one according to Wikipedia "From 1866 on the <1853 pattern> rifles were converted in large numbers at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) Enfield beginning with the initial pattern, the Mark I." I think that this is a mark 1 due to the length of the barrel, and the butt markings showing that the original Enfield it was converted from dated from 1857... fantastic, wouldn't you love to know where it had been??

... amazing to see such history in your own little village street!


  1. Fascinating! Don't get to see this stuff much being in the US.
    Thanks for posting!

  2. I think the sight of the Royal Anglian Regiment being heckled by Muslim fanatics has galvanized a lot of people who were previously indifferent.

  3. Cheers guys...

    Moif - possibly but I have a feeling it's more to do with having a go at authority - the British government has resisted any formal recognition of the day for years... being the way we are it's entirely natural to make a go of it off our own bat!

  4. Steve;

    Glad to see the locals are honoring their traditions! I wish more of my people remembered Texas' Independence Day (we are the only state that was once a sovereign nation), and yet, instead, we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day, go figure?

    Loved the pic's of the old arms, I have only handled and shot a repro Bess, I owned a Parker-Hale copy of the 3-band Enfield for a time and still own an Italian 2-band that some friends and I converted to an Alexander Henry .450 caliber Volunteer Target Rifle, cased with all accessories, and I do still shoot it; lovely piece and quite accurate. I did have an opportunity once to handle and fire an original Snider-Enfield Cavalry Musketoon, kicked like a bloody mule and was about as accurate as throwing same mule, but it was fun. The loaded rounds looked almost like shotgun shells compared to what we're used to today.

    Overall, great pic's! Chris was right, we would have to go to a museum, miltaria dealer or very large antique arms show to see much of this. Considering the state of weapons ownership in the UK (blades and guns), I'm glad to see that the owner of these was able to hang onto them.

    I have a friend who is a constable in Edinburgh who recently reported that an antique dealer there had his inventory of swords and bayonets "appropriated" by the government as a matter of public safety due to Scotland's recent anti-knife regulations (they were at least removed to a local museum). Seems someone reported the shop because they feared a mob of delinquents breaking in and then running amok with drawn sabers. And Lord help the poor constable if he should accidentally hurt one of the little dears while removing his saber.

    My friend, Stewart, recently drew three months desk duty, a paid suspension, a psychological counseling and a court appearance for breaking the wrist of a miscreant who he "relieved" of his 6" switchblade knife. This after the lad had already cut two people and tried to cut Stewart! Seems Stewart was supposed to ask him politely for his weapon.


  5. I think the recent upsurge in St. George's day activities is in part a response to the repressive nature of the ever increasing list of do's and don'ts from HM Government, along with a backlash against the increasing migrant population.

    Antique shops are nowhere near as interesting here. More properly they are known as junk shops - and for good reason!

  6. Great post.thank goodness for shops like this.

    My daughters god-mother works for an auctioneers called Townsends in Harrowgate. They recently had a large militaria sale where many items came from someones collection. Apparently his house was stuffed with tailors dummies all dressed in their uniforms and the walls covered with arrays of muskets, swords etc. I pored over the catalogue for ages as the man had a great collection of yeomanry helmets ftom the late 19th Century v much like the lifeguards one in the photo and I was much taken with an officers version but the guide price was pretty steep.