Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The battle for Papelotte

The Belvedere - note also the fruit trees grown up the west facing wall 

I wrote an initial post on Papelotte over a year ago and commented on how difficult it is to get good evidence of what the farm looked like in 1815, or indeed to determine the actual course of events at this important flanking outpost, which could have served much the same function on Wellington's left flank as Hougoumont did on the right.  I say 'could have' because the fighting at Papelotte never developed the same intensity as it did at Hougoumont.  This may explain the lack of good sources, or it may be the fact that it was German not British troops that fought there.  I've now been able to find out a little more and to complete my version of the farmhouse.  

The farm track leads towards the main entrance.  This track existed in 1815.  The fruit trees grown against the wall no longer exist and the white-washed front is now back to its weather beaten brick
Here the lane bends round to the west
The fruit trees have an ethereal, slightly unworldly quality to them

This representation of the farm looks very different from any other that I've seen.

I've also found a photograph which looks much like the post-1860 structure, but without the belvedere or the fruit trees.  In this photograph you can see the same haystack.  This has aroused my suspicions: could this photograph have been doctored to show the farm as it might have looked or should we take it at face value?

Perhaps it is impossible to know the true answers to these questions.  So I've gone ahead and produced my Papelotte Farm as shown in the pictures below.  It is still not complete: the paintwork is still quite basic, the walled area to the north of the farm needs to be built, there are no trees, hedges or other vegetation beyond the basic grass and the farmyard and lanes are a brown baseline rather than the finished product.  And of course there are only a few Nassauers and no French.  More to follow!
West side with damaged roof

Farmyard with farmhouse in corner.  No well yet.

The Great Barn

The lane is made of coffee granules

The view southwards
This shows a nice view down to the annex and again indicates whitewash across much of the building.

Farmhouse looking north


Farmhouse windows with Nassau defenders

The annex looking north
This modern photo shows the annex from the south looking north.  It also shows the garden wall.  The evidence suggests that the French got across this wall into the garden.  There are some buttresses on this wall which I need to put in.  The garden looks very over-grown and would have been in productive use in 1815.


  1. That's a fantastic looking model - I look forward to seeing it completed!

  2. Agreed! It looks very, very good so far. I took a crack at attempting the farm in 15mm 20 years ago or so and couldn't quite get it so gave up in the end. Your model is very convincing.

    Best Regards,

  3. Looks absolutely marvellous - I'm impressed by the quality of the research too. I'm a bit worried about the coffee granules - what do you seal those with?

    Fabulous stuff. Inspiring.

  4. Thank you all! The coffee granules are as yet unsealed and won't be that colour once they are varnished and repainted. And why does stale coffee smell like an old ashtray?

  5. I'm a but late, but would also like to say that it's looking very good indeed. Like Foy, I'm also very impressed with your research.
    Best regards

  6. Thanks WM, much more to do, but it's been fun so far! I need a lot more Nassauers and I'm going to put a Dutch horse battery on the ground above the farm.

  7. Great work - it's an intimidating looking building.

  8. Thanks Sir Able, are you any relation of Basil?