Monday, 24 July 2017

Hougoumont Weekend

Gardner's House is white building on left

Nick, Alan and I had a great weekend staying in the Landmark Trust apartment at Hougoumont. It sleeps 4 (2 bedrooms), and whilst not cheap it's a real experience as after the tourists and museum staff have gone home you've got the whole place to yourself!

The sitting room

The apartment is in the Gardner's House - the one above the South Gate. The Chateau itself was never rebuilt after the battle, and the Farmer's House was also pulled down - so it's the only accommodation building left - and you have all of its upper floor. There is a good sized living/dining room (4' x 4' table for gamers, and space to take a 6' x 4' board on it), galley kitchen, one bedroom on the same floor (who's outer window lets you shoot on those approaching the South Gate, toilet & shower rooms, and then upstairs another bedroom with an attic window above the South Gate.

The Gardener's House from inside the courtyard

The gardner's house from inside the courtyard. The flat occupies the row of windows on the top floor and attic.

The flat has a superbly stocked library of Waterloo books, and the walls are crammed with Napoleonic prints, so its a wonderful place to go to to soak up the atmosphere, walk the courtyard and walled gardens, and think what it must have been like in 1815. The son-et-lumiere show in the barn is pretty good (the new film in the main museum by the Butte is excellent by the way), and it's a useful small museum on the site (you have to pay).

Gardener's House from outside - South gate below

One interesting debate is those two filled in white windows - essentially the back of the living room now.

If you look at this contemporary print of the battlefield they are also shown as filled in:

1817 Print from 1815 sketch - William Mudford’s ‘Battle of Waterloo’, 1817

Event though almost every later painting and diorama shows soldiers shooting through them!

Were they blocked up following the battle - or were they like that during it!

The main modelling note though was that the main barns need thatched roofs not tile ones - so need some modelling clay to cover the tilework on the Hovels version!

I also took the chance to take a couple of 360/720 degree photosphere's, one in the courtyard and one in the garden/pasture. You can find them on Google Maps (activate Streetview man) at:

I took along the Command Magasine game of  Hougoumont: Rock of Waterloo to play. It's an SPI type boardgame with about 1 counter = 100 men/1 company. We didn't manage to play to completion as we started twice (the map now has atmospheric blood/wine stains across it), but it seems a good game although you do get a sense of playing to the rules not the scenario (our 2nd game looked very different to the first), and my feeling was that it is an easier  task for the French in real life.

I also had a set of simple skirmish rules for Hougoumont that we didn't get chance to play, and also tempted to try a scenario with Sharp Practice to get to some sort of Napoleonic Skirmish scenario for the place.

We also played a bit of D&D, but the big hit was Palazzo, a Rio Grande mid-size game, over in about 40-60 mins, interesting decisions on every turn - well recommended!

Alan and Nick playing D&D

All in all a great weekend, and well recommended.

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