Thursday, 26 February 2009

Are Ghosts a Primary Source?

Robert Devereux Earl of Essex, not alas one of my painting clients:

One of the dangers of sharing ones progress is that it can be seen by the wrong people. In this case I refer to those long suffering and patient gentlemen who wait for me to paint up a few castings for them. My recent pictures of Khasi peasants provoked a flurry of emails along the lines;

"If you have time to waste painting that rubbish then you can get on with my Spencer Smith Prussians/ French Voltiguers/ Naval Brigade, you idle waste of space." I spare my readers the attendant physical threats. Most upsetting.

So apart from cutting up a few plywood bases I have done nothing for myself this week. Even I am not so egocentric that I believe I can make cutting plywood into small squares interesting.

Biggs Cottage Newbury.
However I did come across a snippet while reading this week which interested me...

The Young Essex

In his book 'Battles & Generals of the English Civil War' 1968 Colonel H C B Rogers tells of visiting the battlefield of Newbury with his wife. He spent some time in Bigg's cottage the building that The Earl of Essex used as a headquarters. Two old sisters, the Misses Hesketh lived there and his wife asked them jokingly if they ever saw ghosts. The elder sister replied seriously, that in fact she had. Some years ago she had lain in bed when suddenly a short stocky man appeared at the end of the room wearing a maroon coloured coat.

Essex in his mid fifties and looking a bit worse for wear, so unlike ourselves.

Rogers showed them a picture of Essex (and who can honestly say that they travel very far without having one about their person?) and they became quite animated.

'yes, that's him, that is the man. But he was wearing a peaked cap.'

Rogers was puzzled by this and decided that the old girls were getting confused by the classic peaked helmet so commonly associated with the Roundheads.

Of course nowadays thanks to the research of the Partizan Press and others we no longer have to stumble around in the ignorance that was the lot of poor old duffers like Rogers, Young and Haythornthwaite. In the forty years since Rogers wrote his book we have learned that a peaked cap was a perfectly normal thing for a Gentleman to be wearing in the 1640's.

Make of that what you will.

(Thanks to Mike Siggins for the post title. The illustration of the cap is taken from Ospreys ECW Cavalry and is included here to draw attention to the excellence of that work.)


Fitz-Badger said...

In answer to your post title - maybe for ghost writers... (ghost writers in the sky?) ha ha

Bluebear Jeff said...

What a delightful tidbit.

-- Jeff