Friday, 29 May 2009

A trip to Norfolk

I have been staying in Hunstanton, Norfolk for the last few days, and yesterday I was able to visit Houghton Hall, the home of the Cholmondeley Collection of Model Soldiers.

The collection contains over 20,000 figures and is displayed in a series of dioramas including:
  • Lord Wolseley reviews the Anglo-Egyptian Army – the display is made up of modern replicas of traditional Britains-style 'Toy' soldiers
  • The German Emperor reviewing his troops in Potsdam in 1900 – 2,000 figures representing every branch of the German Imperial Army
  • The Battle of Culloden Moor (1746)
  • The Battle of Isandlwana (1879)
  • The Charge of the 16th Lancers at Aliwal (1846)
  • The War in Algeria (1890)
  • A skirmish between British, French, and German troops in 1914
  • The US Cavalry rescuing a wagon train from and Indian attack (c.1873)
  • The North West Frontier, India (1890)
  • The Charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman (1898)

  • The Battle of Waterloo, 18th June 1815 – this diorama has to be viewed from its four sides, each of which depicts a separate incident during the battle:
    • The defence of La Haye-Sainte by the King's German Legion
    • The Charge of the French Cavalry against the British infantry squares
    • The Charge of the Royal Scots Greys

    • Napoleon surveys the battlefield, surrounded by the Old Guard
  • Spanish guerrillas attack a party of French Hussars – The Peninsular War (1809)
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava (1854)
  • A skirmish on the Frontier of India (c.1880)
  • The Fight for the Windmill – The Franco-Prussian War (1870/71)
  • Field Marshal Lord Roberts VC reviews the British Army at Aldershot (1895) – 3,000 figures representing many different Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry units
  • A French column setting off to attack Arab tribesmen – Algeria (1880)
The collection was started in 1928 by the late Lord Cholmondeley and was put on public display in 1980. Many of the figures were made by Edward Suren and Greenwood & Ball.

Houghton Hall is open from 11.30am to 5.30pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, and Bank Holiday Mondays from Easter to the end of September, and this collection is well worth visiting if you are in North West Norfolk.


  1. Bob, initially I got thi s mixed up with Hatfield House, which has part of the BMSS collection, and in particular the John Sandars collection of his scratchbuilt vehicels. Have you ever made it there?

  2. Bob,

    It sounds wonderful . . . but I'm way too far away to visit (off the west coast of Canada) . . . so I appreciate your photos. Thanks.

    -- Jeff

  3. OMD,

    I found the BMSS collection by accident some years ago when my wife and I visited a craft fair at Hatfield House.

    John Sandars made some great models, and they were - to me - the high point of the collection. I understand that some of his model vehicles were also on show some years ago at the National Army Museum, Chelsea.


  4. Jeff,

    If you ever get over to the UK, it is well worth going to that part of Norfolk. Besides Houghton Hall, there is Holkham Hall, Castle Rising, Sandringham (the Queen’s private winter residence in the country), and King’s Lynn. The latter has a particular importance for anyone on the West coast of Canada, as it is where George Vancouver came from!



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