Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Sound of a Distant Drum: The Buildings of Laarden, 1688

One of the things I'm looking forward to doing in my late seventeenth century setting for wargaming is matching up my figures with terrain which looks like coming from the same period and place.  As many of you know, this can be a fairly lengthy progress.  Terrain gets built up slowly, with new pieces being added each year to the collection.

I've a vague, general plan to work on a set of Flemish terrain boards next year (probably in the Spring), but I'm still enjoying adding specific buildings and terrain features as I'm paint up figures during the course of this Autumn.

I'm particularly hoping to try and create a "feel" for the lost world of 1688 Flanders.  I've tried to do this by hunting down town plans from the period.  One of the nicest I've seen is the one in this  wonderful perspective map of Harderwijk from the 1670s:


I love the way that the buildings have a communal gardened area, frequently furnished with fruit trees.  I would imagine that within those enclosed areas, vegetables could be grown and poultry might well be kept.  And slightly outside the town buildings, perhaps an old, poorly maintained (and definitely not yet Vauban-improved) town wall, and an open landscape of dykes, poplars and windmills.

The first question is which buildings to use.  I've long been a great fan of the 25 mm buildings produced by Hovels in resin.  These are now pretty venerable, but have stood the test of time very well.  They are little small for modern sized 28mm figures, but fit the Dixon Miniatures and Foundry ranges for the 1680s and 1690s very well.  Although resin can be fragile, the "European" buildings range by Hovels in 25mm is pretty robust and fairly adaptable.  I'm planning to use the range for most of the Laarden buildings - they seem to catch the right feel and spirit of Flemish towns from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and I am sure they will do fine for 1688 at a pinch.



The walled enclosures can be made using some of the 25mm walls available from Hovels.  These are a bit rough and ready, but nothing that some green stuff can't fill and fix.  I doubt that seventeenth century brickwork was universally perfect, especially brickwork used for enclosures and walled gardens.





I've arranged this test terrain piece so that the building stands at the front of a walled enclosure, with plenty of room for a variety of terrain items to be slotted in the back.  More on those to come in a later post.



I'm planning some modest gate posts to finish off the front of the enclosure.  And of course, with every building, comes a variety of Laarden townsfolk.  More of that kind of nonsense to come in later posts.

35 comments:

  1. Looks very promising and very Flemish. Crack on.

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    1. Thanks so much, Mike! Great to hear from you - rest assured I'll be trying to make the final result as Flemish as Ghent eels.

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  2. Looks great and plenty of room for chickens that perspective map print is delightful and of course you wouldn't use flemish bond on a garden wall stretcher bond makes much more sense. Lovely buildings as well.
    Best Iain

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    1. Hi Iain! Thanks so much, and a special bonus prize for remembering about the Laarden chickens!

      I love your reference to flemish bond and stretcher bond - if only I'd thought about that in advance!

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  3. Looking forward to watching this unfold!

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  4. A fine start there, Hovels are splendid little pieces, much underrated, and price wise are well in line with MDF equivalents, which even when titivated, still look like MDF to me and they have a certain old world charm, ideal for this period IMHO

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    1. Thanks Phil. I really like the Hovels buildings. I always have enjoyed them on the table top, and I agree, they do have a certain old world charm. They are also fantastic value for money, and I'd recommend them for the terrific range of accessories and supporting walls, barrels, ladders and stuff like that.

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  5. Well I'm already hooked, knowing you this will be a wonderful project to watch unfold.

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    1. Thanks Michael! I'm hoping it all comes to a crescendo sometime around late December and the commencement of a certain Painting Challenge!

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  6. Terrific work Sidney! Like you, I've always really liked the Hovels range - they're well constructed, charming and they are one of the few that do proper buildings for the Low Countries. For further inspiration, I suggest you watch 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring' for good Laarden civilian scenes. :) Looking forward to seeing your progress on this project.

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    1. Thanks Curt! I agree completely with you on the Hovels buildings. We've got "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" on DVD somewhere, I'm sure, but its years since I watched it. Time for a re-watch!

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  7. Hovels, now there's a blast from the past. I've just realized that I've got a box of their 15mm stuff tucked away unused in a box in the garage somewhere 😀 great project BTW, Sidney.

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    1. Thanks Monty! I'm all for having blasts from the past!

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    1. Hi Kym - thanks for dropping by, and glad you like it so far!

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  9. I think the Hovels buildings do still cut it alright. They have a certain something , even character , particularly now as everything seems to MDF!

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    1. Thanks Dave. I think they look good, particularly if you glue them onto a scenic base of some kind - I think that really helps.

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  10. I too love the Hovels range, I got stacks of their 15mm buildings for my BLB figures, but I'm struggling to find any other than Hovels 16th century European buildings for my Donnybrook figures, yes you can get lots of ECW stuff, including lots of MDF buildings, but not the Flanders/Flemish buildings such as these? Problems problems!
    I shall like everyone else be following the progress of this little adventure, and I'll be taking lots of notes too!

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    1. Hi Ray - thanks so much for commenting! I know exactly what you mean! There are many fine ECW buildings available, but very few for Flanders or the Netherlands for the 16th and 17th centuries. It's such a shame, because having distinctively modelled buildings on the table, which fit with the terrain, really helps set the theme of a game.

      And, slightly depressingly, I can't find any Flemish buildings in 2mm ! (Although I feel that's a problem I'm going to have to solve myself!)

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  11. Superb looking building, no doubt!

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  12. Looks like you're off to a magnificent start with your terrain!

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    1. Thanks so much. You will hopefully enjoy what's coming in November, terrain-wise.

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  13. Sidney, If you are over for CRISIS when you leave turn left out of Antwerp and head up into the Netherlands. Goes, Veere and some of the other small towns on Walcheren along the Veersemeer are only an hour away. You will be walking the ground plan of what you are looking for and there is a real feeling of scale. You can still make the late Chunnel if you take the Ternuesen tunnel on the N62. I am back in Brussels again, and making the most of it. Best, Graham

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    1. Graham, thanks so much for the great comment. I am coming to Crisis in Antwerp, and really looking forward to catching up. Perhaps we can chat through some plans and destinations while I'm there - I shall bring the road atlas of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany! Very best wishes and welcome back to Brussels, Sir!

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  14. I love hearing about this project. It looks amazing as ever!

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    1. Thanks so much, Ed. Much more coming soon!

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  15. Fantastic stuff as always, very much looking the part, can't wait to see more

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    1. Thanks Kieran! Fully intending to get back to the 25mm figures once I've got all the 2mm stuff done!

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