Sunday 7 July 2024

English Bill & Durham Knights for Flodden

This post marks the start of a somewhat inevitable addition to the collection, some English troops proper to the Flodden Campaign and suitable for other various border clashes of the period.

My collection of Scots is slowly building and I'm keen to start a Northern addition to my existing English army rather than just using the same figures I already have.

I feel that the army mustered to defend the border would have looked a little different to that sent to France and wanted to see what I could create to effect my take on that.

To achieve a borders look I have increased the proportion of jacks and brigandines to coats and of the latter included both plain white coats and more contemporary white guarded green coats. There's also some blackened armour in there and a variety of poses blending different figures.

Arms, bodies and heads are from Perry Miniatures wars of the roses plastics along with some Tudor dollies and later medieval heads and bodies from Steel Fist Miniatures which include some very lovely bellows faced sallets. I really could have gone a bit mad with these as I like the look but less is definitely more here.

The unit includes some dollies sent to me by Pete of Pete's Flags to which I added arms from the Perry wars of the roses set. These are part of a Flodden range that Pete is working upon, this is still in the funding stage with no release data as yet. I'm very grateful to have these, I really like the jacks over coats look.

I really should also mention a recent source for painting that I cannot recommend more highly;

The Typical Tudor is a reference for those interested in reconstructing garments of the Tudor period, detailing how clothes were made, what they were made of, who wore them and of particular interest it contains some invaluable colour references for all garments. 

To give the unit a bit more identity other than just being Northern I then started thinking about potential commanders for an accompanying unit of knights and banner bearer.

It was a bit of a no brainer for me really as hailing from County Durham myself I couldn't resist the temptation to represent the 2000 or so men of the Palatinate of Durham who served in the vanguard at Flodden under the control of Sir Thomas Howard.

Command for the Durham contingent under the banner of St. Cuthbert
Lord Lumley (L) and William Hylton (R) are in surcoats

Various sources state these men were led by Lord John Lumley and Sir William Bulmer under the ancient banner of St Cuthbert. 

In 2012, the banner was painstakingly recreated at a cost of £35k (you read that right) to adorn St Cuthbert's Tomb in Durham Cathedral.

I've since seen this a number of times and I recommend a visit if you're in the area to see the recreation and stand in the place where the banner was handed to Howard prior to his march to the border.

This proved very useful for my own creation as someone else had already done all of the hard work in researching its appearance and dimensions, though not an exact copy i'm pleased with how my take on it turned out.

My friend Oli donated an old Essex miniatures medieval figure from which I salvaged the cross and the bearer is from the Perry Miniatures Wars of the Roses range. The banner was hand-painted which was quite a task but I listened to some interesting podcasts on the life of St Cuthbert and channelled my inner medieval scribe. It was an enjoyable creative exercise. 

To accompany the banner I started looking into any recorded nobles and knights from the Durham Palatine who were present at Flodden.

Lumley I was aware of largely from some memorable school trips to Lumley Castle. There are many Lumleys and it was interesting to read that this particular one was a mere 20 years old at Flodden and was knighted on the field, the Popinjay (parrot) heraldry was an interesting point as well which sealed his entry to be represented in miniature.

I was also familiar with Bulmer, who exists in my collection represented on horseback commanding a body of mounted archers. Whilst it was tempting to represent him dismounted I was eager to see if I could add some further Durham notables and so the leap into the internet rabbit hole began.

First stop was the excellent online Flodden eco museum which features an interesting page dedicated to Sir William Gascoigne

That's the first addition to the bag, within this others were mentioned as follows;

In the document known as “The Trewe Encounter”, which describes the battle itself, Surrey is said to have divided his army into two sections, the vanguard being nine thousand strong under the command of the Lord Admiral, his son, whilst Surrey led the rearward. Sir William Gascoigne is named as being in the breast of the vanguard under the banner of St Cuthbert along with Lords Lumley and Hylton amongst “diverse others”.

On the Battlefield Trust website, in the pages devoted to the Battle of Flodden, Robert White in his Cambridge History of the Renaissance is quoted thus: “The [English army] was separated into two bodies or wards, nearly equal in number, each having a centre and a right and left wing – the foreward being on the right and rear or mainward on the left. 

The former was commanded by Lord Thomas Howard the admiral, with Henry Lord Clifford, usually called “the Shepherd Lord” aged sixty, Richard Nevill Lord Latimer, Lord Scrope of Upsal, Sir Christopher Ward, Sir John Everingham, Sir Nicholas Appleyard, Sir William Sydney of Penshurst, Thomas Lord Conyers of Sockburn, John Lord Lumley, William Baron of Hylton, Sir William Bulmer and others, being the power of Bishoprick under the banner of Saint Cuthbert, Robert Lord Ogle, Sir William Gascoigne the elder of Leasingcroft, Sir John Gower and divers gentlemen of Yorkshire and Northumberland, with their tenants and followers, also the mariners brought by the admiral himself, the whole amounting to about nine thousand men,”

There's lots to go on from here so it was a case of picking one, I settled upon William Baron of Hylton, in particular for this interesting detail attributed to the battle of Flodden;

'In the account rolls of the masters of the cell of Monkwearmouth there are frequent notices of gifts bequeathed to that church as “mortuaries” by the barons of Hylton. The mortuary banner, standard, and coat armour of Baron William Hylton, who died in 1505 or 1506, were removed a few years later from Wearmouth to grace the walls of the Cathedral of Durham. Here they remained until July, 1513, when they were lent by the prior to the then baron, another William, who, in the following October, fought in his sire’s armour, and beneath his sire’s banner, on the field of Flodden.'

Of worthy mention is Hylton Castle, within which there are twenty arms in the entrance hall of notable families of Durham, Scotland and Northumberland. I must visit next time i'm in the area.

Here's Hylton and Lumley together with knights in armour from the first decade of the sixteenth century. I particularly like the pointing figure, the body is a dolly from Steelfist Miniatures which matches effigies from 1500+ I matched this with an appropriate sallet and painted the cross of St George on the breastplate.

Quite a mean looking bunch. There are further names I'm aware of, Sir Ralph Bowes, just down the road from my hometown, another young soldier, knighted on the field is also worth a look. Then I found further names mentioned by name and county on the Flodden Muster site. 

Lots to think about there, I really could have some fun doing a deep dive into this but, as with my choice of Scots commanders I equally want the figures to have some diversity so I'll start researching some of these individually to see if any were career soldiers of the era.

Further bases of Durham foot knights could be added to continue this indulgence......No Stuart stay on the task, get one of the Howards done at least ! haha, i do love a tangent.

Here's the unit with some more ranks from the collection and archers in support;

Hopefully that was an interesting read and shed some light on the men of Durham who answered the call to arms. I certainly enjoyed the rabbithole and learning more of my home county.

Bye for now



  1. Magnificent

  2. I know I commented on Facebook already, but this is such a fabulous addition!

    1. All encouragement is appreciated, it really keeps me going

  3. Most excellent, I'm working on a Flodden army and found this very useful, thank you. Mike.

    1. Thanks Mike, more where that came from I hope and do please share your progress too

  4. Super work, they look stunning.

  5. I'm always delighted when there is a new post here. All the figures are terrific but the popinjay look is unique and will be hard to beat. I love the banner, it makes me want to go and see the original. Yours is great too and I hope a little cheaper. Flodden is one of the more memorable battlefield visits I've got to and hope one day to go again. You must have infinite patience in creating your vision and a complete lack of control in seeking out references! Rabbit holes, artistry and dedicated obsession - what can't it do. All the best for whatever is next.

    1. Thanks Stephen, I'm delighted too ! I've got so many things on the go it's good to actually finish something. I must get to Flodden again and see it with new eyes, i've been there once before pre-tudor obsession and just enjoyed the walk, kinda like seeing your favourite band before you got into them.

  6. Great post- fascinating stuff.

  7. Absolutely beautiful Stuart and great to read about the men from Durham [my county] who battered the Scots. The reconstructed banner at the cathedral is beautiful to look at although Im certain you could have made a one that was much cheaper. Well done.

    1. Cheers man, it was good to find out a bit more of the county and add places to the list to visit on my next return

  8. Wonderful looking unit. I love the focus you have on the research and respect you therefore pay to those you are representing.

    1. Thanks Richard, it's the stuff that keeps me up at night ! I really enjoy reading up on it and discovering sources new to me

  9. Tha absolute business Stuart…
    Beautiful painted miniatures and excellent research… everything we have come to expect from you…

    All the best. Aly

    1. My pleasure Aly, I hope you'll get to see them one day