Archive for August 13th, 2019

August 13, 2019


IMG_9774Continuing the series of figures that used to adorn the staircase of the house that was once known at Cromwell house in Highgate in London we have this fellow, carved we presume like the stairs in 1636 or 37. The original carvings have disappeared, but they live on as plaster casts in the Royal Armouries stores where I was given access to take photos. Hitherto they have only been visible from one or at most two angles but as we have seen so far, viewing the whole figure throws up all sorts of interesting details, not least this chap. He is quite sad now, having lost grip of his musket (and some of his fingers), but the gun still survives. The front view shows his plain soldier’s coat, linen falling band, breeches, hose and latchet shoes. He is also accoutred as a musketeer with a bandolier of ‘boxes’ that carry the gunpowder charges for his musket, a sword belt and a morion helmet which we shall return to presently.


IMG_9775On his left hip hangs a simple cross hilted sword suspended on a simple shoulder belt.

IMG_9776Now this is interesting. In the small of his back is what would appear to be a hank of cord, neatly coiled or twisted in a pear drop shape, hanging from his bandolier. This must represent the match-cord that was used to fire his musket. As we shall see the match on his musket is represented as quite thick cord. We have wondered if the shape represents a ball that pulls easily if you need another piece to replace a burned down match in the heat of battle?


IMG_9777On his left side you can see the bullet bag on his bandolier and nice detail of his shoe ties, which are just plain laces unlike the fancy rosettes on the drummer we looked at earlier.


Here are three views of his musket. It’s quite short so we can either see it as a short carbine type musket or maybe the carver thought it would be more practical for a staircase not to have it sticking up too much.


Three views of his head. Originally this was thought to represent a soldier wearing a montero cap, but looking closely we can see that it’s actually a morion helmet (or maybe a domed felt hat) and that the brim has broken off. The nice feather plume on his gives him a jaunty air, though he doesn’t look terribly happy does he?


And here is a photo of our man in situ from Phillip Norman’s monograph of London that shows him carrying his musket at the shoulder.