Thursday, 29 November 2018

The Other Knight's Tale

Following straight on from my previous post about Revell/BBI's wrongly-named Lord Greywolf figure, who turned out to be none other than Sir Roger de Trumpington, I want to talk about yet another 90mm knight who the Revell/BBI packaging designers seem to have similarly misidentified.

Meet the so-called Sir Gareth...

Sir Gareth: 90mm English Knight

However, much like Lord Greywolf, I'd like to suggest that this is not a depiction of anyone by that name, but somebody else entirely. To begin with, you need to see the actual heraldic design on his shield. Here is a rear-shot:

Look carefully at this shield

Now, once again, I have very little knowledge of medieval heraldry, beyond one or two significant kings or lords, so I had no idea who this was supposed to represent, if anyone historical at all. However, during my research into Sir Roger (thanks to the prompting of Arthur Machen), I discovered that medieval monumental brass plaques are a really big deal for both historians and clergy.

Apparently they give one of the best (sometimes the only) indication of what arms, armour and heraldic devices were worn by knights of the era in which they were made. Sir Roger de Trumpington's plaque is a classic example, but another of significant note is that of Sir William Fitzralph, buried inside St. John the Baptist Church in the village of Pebmarsh, Essex.

Monumental Brass Plaque: Sir William Fitzralph (1323)

As you can see from the plaque, the design on the shield, with its chevrons and fleur-de-lis, matches that of Sir Gareth's. This is further supported by the military history illustration below:

Sir William Fitzralph on the left (note the shield)

I am going to suggest, therefore, as you might have guessed already, that the Revell/BBI model called Sir Gareth is actually a representation of the historical Sir William Fitzralph!

As to the actual life of Sir William, little has been published online other than a small reference to him owning large estates in Essex and possibly taking part in the campaigns of Kings Edward I and Edward II against the Scots in the early 14th Century. In order to find out more about him, I decided to phone the Vicar of St John the Baptist, Pebmarsh, to see if they could reveal any more knowledge regarding this mysterious knight. Nick Ellis, the Lay Minister, provided me with some very interesting information and said he'd email me more in the next couple of days.

One thing that's particularly interesting to me is that Fitzralph was actually a contemporary of Sir Roger de Trumpington, and is shown next to him here in this illustration:

Sir William Fitzralph in the centre, Trumpington on the left

Despite the connection between Sir William and Sir Roger, the former seems to have made less of an impact in the miniatures market. The only one I could find, other than Revell/BBI's 90mm offering, is this 54mm one from New Century Miniatures:

54mm Sir William Fitzralph (note the heraldic design on the banner)

By contrast, in addition to all the models depicting Sir Roger that I listed in my last post, I found even more today:

54mm Trumpington, this time with a ball-and-chain flail!
54mm Trumpington, holding a banner
54mm Trumpington with a classic great helm

Finally, like Sir Roger in the village of Trumpington, Sir William also appears to have been painted onto the village sign for Pebmarsh (though the colours on the shield are not quite right):

Sir William Fitzralph, cultural icon of Pebmarsh

Now that I know who both these knights are, I feel it is only right and proper to fit them into my next game of The Dolorous Stroke! I have a feeling they're going to be heading north to Scotland for a very dangerous, but important mission...

Ready for battle: Sir William Fitzralph & Sir Roger de Trumpington

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