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Wednesday, 27 October 2021

The first meeting of my Mother Lodge since 2020

Today I will be attending the first meeting of my Mother Lodge (The Grove Park Lodge No.2732 in the Province of Hertfordshire) since February 2020.

The crest of the Masonic Province of Hertfordshire.

We have been very lucky in that none of the members has died during the COVID-19 pandemic, although at least one of them has caught and survived the virus. As a result, today's meeting will not be a sombre one, and we can concentrate on getting back into the swing of regular Masonic meetings.

The crest of The Grove Park Lodge No.2732.

Every Lodge is rather like a small club, and as in all clubs, friendships develop and grow over the years. We have tried to keep in contact with each other during the gap since early 2020 with regular Zoom meetings, but although this is a great way to stay in touch, it is a poor substitute for actually meeting each other in the flesh.

The main business of today's meeting is to hear a talk by one of our members about the Masonic Knights Templars (or The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta to give them their full title). He is currently the Commander of the London Provincial Prior’s Bodyguard, and has visited various sites in the Middle East that are associated with the history of the original Knights Templar.

So today's meeting is going to be an interesting one, with friendships being renewed and a little Masonic learning thrown in for good measure. It will also be the first time I have attended my Mother Lodge since I was promoted to Grand Rank, and no doubt I will be expected to buy everyone a drink to celebrate!

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Manoeuvre and Manoeuvre: Distant Lands

I belong to several WhatsApp groups, one of which discusses wargaming. As a result, I was introduced to GMT Games’ MANOEUVRE and MANOEUVRE: DISTANT LANDS, both of which use an 8 x 8 square gridded playing board.

I was intrigued by what I read about the games, and after some searching (and with the assistance of another member of the WhatsApp group), I managed to buy a second-hand edition of MANOEUVRE via eBay and a new copy of MANOEUVRE: DISTANT LANDS from Amazon.

MANOEUVRE contains:

  • 8 x 8 sets of national army units (Austria, Britain, France, Prussia, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the USA)
  • 12 geomorphic 4 x 4 square gridded map sections
  • 8 x 60 nationality cards
  • Two player aid cards
  • A rule book
  • 4 D6s, 4 D8s, and 4 D10s

MANOEUVRE: DISTANT LANDS contains:

  • 4 x 8 sets of national army units (China, India, Japan, and Sweden)
  • 8 geomorphic 4 x 4 square gridded map sections
  • 4 x 60 nationality cards
  • Two player aid cards
  • A supplementary rule book
  • 4 D6s, 4 D8s, and 4 D10s

They have yet to be delivered, but I am looking forward to giving the games a try out so that I can try to understand how another wargame designer has approached the idea of producing a simple, portable wargame.


The games were designed by Jeff Horger and originally published by GTM Games in 2008 and 2017 respectively.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Nugget 339

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the latest issue on Saturday, and I passed it to the printer this morning. With luck, it should be ready to be posted out to members by next weekend.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2021-2022 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

It started as a rewrite of Hexblitz … but it seemed to be evolving into something different

I recently wrote a blog post about the problems I had experienced when writing some workable logistic rules for my HEXBLITZ rules. As I cannot do any work on my FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME ARMY KEPI ROUGE until I have primed the figures, I thought that I would occupy my spare time by starting a fundamental rewrite of HEXBLITZ … but when – after a couple of day’s work – I looked back at what I had written, I realised that the rules were gradually evolving into something quite different … an operational-level version of the PORTABLE WARGAME that – with a few minor adjustments – should be suitable for fighting wargames over quite an extensive time period.

I suspect that writing my recent PORTABLE BALKAN WARS WARGAME rules and reading Mark Cordone’s and Ion Dowman’s big PORTABLE WARGAME battle reports on Facebook may well have subconsciously influenced my thinking. What I have ended up with is a draft set of rules that I want to play about with over the next few weeks. Rest assured I’ll write more about my ‘new’ rules as they continue to evolve.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Mark Cordone's Battle of Leipzig

I recently mentioned that Mark Cordone was intending to use a tweaked version of the PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME to refight the Battle of Leipzig, and over the last week he has done just that ... and shown that although the rules were originally designed for an 8 x 8 or an 8 x 9 grid, they can be used on a much larger playing surface.

I would love to be able to reproduce Mark's entire battle report, but it is so long and detailed (and very well illustrated with lots of photographs) that it is best read either on the PORTABLE WARGAME Facebook page or on Mark's own Facebook page.

Here are some examples of the photographs of his battle:


Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mark Cordone.

Friday, 22 October 2021

My latest book sales

The way that Lulu.com and Kindle Direct Publishing report the sales of my books to me is in two rather different formats and collating the information can be a bit time-consuming ... which is why I only look at my latest sales figures every two or three months.

As of today, my sales figures look like this:

I have sorted them figures out so they represent my output in terms of those book that fall under the PORTABLE WARGAME label (7405), other wargames rules (1122), imagi-nation campaign books (324), Masonic books (137), and my one novel (23) ... about which, the least said, the better!

One book that is not included on the list is my CENTENARY HISTORY OF THE HERTFORDSHIRE MASTER'S LODGE NO.4090. This should have been published in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic its publication has been held back until early in 2022. I know that over 500 have been printed, and they are sitting in storage awaiting the delayed centenary meeting of the Lodge.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Making progress on Army Kepi Rouge: Waiting for good weather

I have been making slow but steady progress with my FUNNY LITTLE WAR/PORTABLE WARGAME ARMY KEPI ROUGE, and have four mounted officers, eleven officers on foot, six gunners, four machine gun crewmen, eight cavalrymen, three field gun, and two machine guns waiting to be painted. Unfortunately, the current round of wet and windy weather means that I am unable to prime the figures as I must do it outside. What I need is a couple of hours of warm, sunny weather … and at present the forecast is not looking very encouraging.

Once I have primed the figures, I expect that it will take me three to four weeks to get them painted and varnished. I will then be able to base them, along with the figures I already have in store. I hope that this project will be completed by Christmas … and then I can look at using them and the other armies in my collection on my tabletop.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

What if … ? Queen Charlotte and Prince Consort Leopold?

It was not until I wrote yesterday’s blog post about Shrewsbury House that I realised that had she survived, Princess Charlotte of Wales might well have succeeded her father – George IV – to the throne when he died in 1830. If she had, we might well have thought of the last two-thirds of the nineteenth century as the Chalottean era rather than the Victorian one.

Princess Charlotte of Wales.

She had married Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1816, and he would no doubt have occupied a similar situation as his nephew Albert did after his marriage to Victoria, namely being the spouse of the Queen of England but not allowed to be king. (He did become King of the Belgians in July 1831 … but that is another story.)

Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Having read about him, I somehow doubt that he would have been happy with the situation, but bearing in mind the reception Albert got, it seems unlikely that parliament would have agreed to Leopold becoming joint monarch with his wife. Probably he would have become Prince Consort, but never King Leopold.

In these circumstances, might he have accepted the throne of Belgium when it was offered to him? If so, would his son have ended up being both King of Britain and Belgium? It’s an interesting possibility that might have seriously altered the history of Europe in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth.

He was certainly a believer in marrying off the members of his family to other royal families. In real life he remarried after Princess Charlotte's death (to Louise-Marie of Orléans, the daughter of Louis Philippe I of France) and his three surviving children were:

  • Leopold, Duke of Brabant (later King Leopold II of Belgium), who married Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria in 1853.
  • Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, who married Princess Marie of Hohenzollern in 1867.
  • Princess Charlotte of Belgium, who married Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Josef Maria von Habsburg-Lothringen (later Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico) in 1857.

Had he had a similar number of children by 'Queen' Charlotte, there is little doubt that they would also have married into the other royal families of Europe, just as Queen Victoria's children did.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

I have been to ... Shrewsbury House, Shooters Hill, London

On Monday morning, Sue and I went to our local community centre, which is housed in Shrewsbury House, to listen to a talk about the history of the house.

The house is just over five minutes away on foot, and the present building was erected in 1923 in the grounds of a house of the same that was sited a little to the north-east of the present building.

The original Shrewsbury House was built in 1789 by Charles Talbot, 15th Earl of Shrewsbury and 15th Earl of Waterford (1753 to 1827). From 1812 onwards, he created the gardens at the recently renamed and remodelled Alton Towers, Staffordshire (it had previously called Alveton Lodge, a hunting lodge that had formed part of the recently demolished Alton Castle), which had been held by the family since the 15th century. Alton Towers was sold in 1924 to a group of local businessmen, who formed Alton Towers Limited, and who opened the house and grounds to the public.

The original Georgian Shrewsbury House.

Ten years after it was built, Shrewsbury House was leased by the Prince Regent (later George IV), for his daughter, Princess Charlotte. She often lived there during the summer months so that she could visit her mother – Queen Caroline – who lived in Blackheath. Princess Charlotte married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who later became King Leopold I, King of the Belgians, in 1816, and had she lived, she would have become Queen of England on the death of her father in 1830. Unfortunately, she died in 1817 as a result of complications after a stillbirth.

The house was later sold to a private owner, and over the years it was sold and resold several times. By 1896 the building was being used as a convalescent home for children, and in 1908 the London County Council bought nine acres of the house's grounds to be used as a park (Shrewsbury Park).

In 1916 the house and its remaining grounds were bought by Fred Halse, a Borough Councillor, Alderman, and later Mayor of Woolwich (1931 to 1932), a London County Councillor 1925 to 1934), and Deputy Lieutenant of Kent (1926 to 1934). Fred Halse was a builder, property developer, motor engine dealer, billiard hall owner, and racehorse owner, and owned the building company Halse and Sons Limited. Halse was also the honorary colonel of 20th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Blackheath and Woolwich) in the period up to, during, and immediately after the Second World War. He demolished the original building in 1923 and built the existing one in its place, and it became his home.

Fred Halse's 'new' Shrewsbury House.

However, in April 1930 his business was declared bankrupt, and in 1933 he sold the house and an acre of its grounds for £9,000 to Woolwich Council, who intended to use it as the site for a local museum and a library. The rest of the grounds were sold to another builder - Laings - who then erected an estate of houses on the land.

The plans for a museum and library came to nothing, and the house remained empty until the international situation deteriorated, and it became a Civil Defence Control Centre. It fulfilled this role right through the Second World War and into the Cold War, and was only decommissioned as such in 1968, at which point it became a local community centre.

The entrance to Shrewsbury House today.

Shrewsbury House has been listed as Grade II for the following reasons:

  • Architectural interest: A handsome and substantial early twentieth-century country house with varied and well-articulated external elevations and interiors in a Jacobean, early eighteenth-century, and Adam style.
  • Materials: Constructed of good quality brick and stone.
  • Craftsmanship: Fine plastered ceilings, good quality joinery including staircase, panelling, doors, and wooden or marble fireplaces. Two bathrooms retain decorative ceramic tiles.
  • Intactness: An unaltered exterior and the interior is intact except for one plastered ceiling.
  • Subsidiary features: The attached pergola, terrace walling, gazebo, and boundary walls with cast iron gates and railings survive intact and contribute to the building’s interest.
  • Historical interest.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Other people's Portable Wargame reports: A plethora of new stuff!

My sister's recent death and her funeral have rather preoccupied me of late, and it was only yesterday that I realised quite how many players had written reports on the PORTABLE WARGAME Facebook page. These include Mark Cordone's Battle of Leipzig project, for which he has created a special playing board ...

... as well as painted several armies made up from replacement figures for the game of RISK.

At the same time, Slorm Chaplain has been using a slightly tweaked version of Alan Saunders' ECW rules from the PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book to fight a Horse & Musket battle ...

... and Auston Jeff Butler has been fighting an Alien Bugs vs Neo-Soviet Red Army Brigade battle in the irradiated wastes of Tibet!

Finally, Barry Carter has fought a Romans vs. Britons battle ...

... and a battle from the Russian Civil War using the rules.

The sheer range of battles being fought using versions of the PORTABLE WARGAME rules is staggering, and I am extremely pleased to see people getting so much fun from their wargaming!


Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mark Cordone, Slorm Chaplain, Auston Jeff Butler, and Barry Carter.