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Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #126 - April 2022

British Grenadier Guards Over The Centuries


The Grenadier Guards (GREN GDS) is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It can trace its lineage back to 1656 when Lord Wentworth's Regiment was raised in Bruges to protect the exiled Charles II. In 1665, this regiment was combined with John Russell's Regiment of Guards to form the current regiment, known as the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. Since then, the regiment has filled both a ceremonial and protective role as well as an operational one. In 1900, the regiment provided a cadre of personnel to form the Irish Guards; while later, in 1915 it also provided the basis of the Welsh Guards upon their formation.

The regiment's early history saw it take part in numerous conflicts including the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War, and the Napoleonic Wars; at the end of this period the regiment was granted the "Grenadier" designation by a Royal Proclamation. During the Victorian Era, the regiment took part in the Crimean War, the Anglo-Egyptian War, the Mahdist War, and the Second Boer War.

A grenadier was originally a specialized soldier, first established as a distinct role in the mid-to-late 17th century, for the throwing of grenades and sometimes assault operations. At that time grenadiers were chosen from the strongest and largest soldiers. By the 18th century, dedicated grenade throwing of this sort was no longer relevant, but grenadiers were still chosen for being the most physically powerful soldiers and would lead assaults in the field of battle.

The grenade of the time was a hollow iron ball, filled with gun powder and sealed with a wooden plug which contained the fuse. To ignite the grenade the grenadier carried a burning piece of cord called a slow match. When not in use, the slow match was placed into a small brass case with holes that was attached to the grenadier's shoulder belt, This match case continued to be worn by grenadiers long after the grenade had been abandoned as an effective weapon.

Every time he handled his match and grenade it was necessary first for the grenadier to free his hands of his musket by slinging it cross-ways over his shoulder. The soldier's usual large brimmed hat proved awkward when doing this because, while passing over the soldier's head, the sling would catch on the brim. A new headdress was therefore needed for the grenadiers. The mitre cap answered this need and was adopted by the grenadiers of the British Army at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In spite of its early introduction, orders regulating the appearance of the Mitre caps were not issued until 1743. The design established in 1743 remained virtually the same until the 1760s when it evolved into the first model of the bearskin cap. The cap's front had a shaped panel of material that was like the boards of a book. This panel was covered with a heavily embroidered piece of wool in the colour of the particular regiment. In 1743 it was ordered that King George's royal cypher of a G.R.(Georgis Rex translated King George) surmounted by a crown be embroidered on the front. A small red flap, embroidered with "NEC ASPERA TERRENT" (difficulties daunt us not) and the running horse of Hanover,was attached to the front panel.

Pikemen were used to defend musketeers against the cavalry. They were also useful to push against the enemy when victory was in sight. They were often placed in the middle of the infantry, with musketeers on either side of them. These weapons were usually between 16 and 18 feet long.  The length of a regiment’s pikes could be decisive in battle.  The long wooden stave was made of ash and tapered to a point at the end to improve the weapon’s balance.  Long steel plates were fixed on to the thinnest end to protect it from being hacked off. At the very end of the pike was a sharp steel blade that could inflict terrible wounds.

Pikemen wore heavy armour that protected them from neck to knee; a breast and back plate, a pot helmet, tassets that covered the thighs and a gorget to protect the throat. The pot helmets were quickly and cheaply made in two pieces and joined together with a comb down the middle. They had a brim all around which was angled up at the front to help protect the soldier from sword blows. A short sword called a tuck was carried for hand to hand combat. Infantry swords were of lesser quality than those carried by the cavalry and used as a last resort.


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 Modern Parcel Gilt Silver Rose / Posy Bowl & Cover Amethyst Finial Arts & Crafts Silver Mounted Wooden Regimental Cigarette Box Modern Silver Box Decorated with Silver Gilt Feathers  Victorian Rococo Revival Pierced Silver Gilt Inkwell
Modern Parcel Gilt Silver 'Cariatic' Wine Coaster Victorian Silver & Enamel Grouse Shooting Vesta Case Earl Fitzwilliam Edwardian Silver Gaming Scorer / Trump Indicator / Whist Marker Pencil  Edwardian Silver & Enamel Vesta Case The Duke of Wellington's Regiment

Once again I am pleased to be able to update the site this month with over 40 new items of stock and some highlights include; a modern Parcel Gilt Silver Rose / Posy Bowl & Cover with amethyst finial by Stuart Devlin, an Arts & Crafts Silver Mounted Wooden Regimental Cigarette Box by Ramsden & Carr, a modern Silver Box Decorated with Silver Gilt Feathers by Gerald Benney, a Victorian Rococo Revival Pierced Silver Gilt Inkwell, a modern Parcel Gilt Silver 'Cariatic' Wine Coaster by Stuart Devlin, a rare Victorian Silver & Enamel Grouse Shooting Vesta Case possibly belonging to Earl Fitzwilliam, a rare Edwardian Silver Gaming Scorer / Trump Indicator / Whist Marker Pencil and an Edwardian Silver & Enamel Vesta Case for The Duke of Wellington's Regiment.


I do hope that you will find this Newsletter informative and helpful and will allow us send it to you on a regular basis. I would welcome any feedback you may have, both positive and negative.

David W.A. Buck.
Steppes Hill Farm Antiques


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Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Ltd · PO Box 608 · Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 9GT · United Kingdom

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