Winchester Military Quarter trip/Lock Down Release
Lock down release!!
For many of us the last couple of years have been extremely tough with constant lock downs and worrying about protecting both ourselves and the ones we care about.
Through prudent planning and adherence to guidelines and rules (unlike some MPs that will go un-named…. We have managed to protect our members and our club.
Now there is very much a feeling that we are through this difficult time we not only want to get back to our much loved hobby but to also regain the sense of community that is so important to so many of us, in fact for many of our members this is just as important as the hobby its-self.
With this in mind we have decided that Abingdon Wargames club will begin funding in part or in full trips for our members to shared places of interest.
For many of us at the club the history of the periods we spend so long playing are an integral part of our hobby and one that adds so much more to the games we choose to play.
We are lucky enough to have many members who’s knowledge of British military history in particular is outstanding.
With this in mind a selection of options was put to the members to vote on along with a selection of dates, obviously with many of us having families or other commitments it was allways never going to be possible to get everyone of us on every trip we arrange but over a period of time all will have many chances to go and take part.
Below is a short blog of our outing to Winchester military quarter and city museums.
Day started with pick up from the conservative club in Abingdon (as this is home soil for the club) at 08:45.
With one member not quite sure which way he was going or indeed who was driving who!
A bleary eyed chairman and his assistant provided the personnel carriers for the troops and we were soon hurtling down the A34 at great speed!
With one additional stop on route to pick up Iain who would apparently be our recon/pathfinder for the day.. appearing at his front door complete with map and compass. (which he got out more than once or twice during the walk around Winchester!!)
With Club supporting the trip through covering transport and parking costs we treated ourselves to city car parking and we soon outside our first stop of the day which was the green jackets museum and my first photo op of the day.
First impressions of the military quarter which is now a residential area are great, it is clean tidy and really well kept. Not only the Green Jacket museum but also the Gurkha museum, Horse power, The museum of the Kings Royal Hussars (unfortunately closed on the day).
On arriving we found that for a relatively small cost of £11 you are able to access all the mentioned museums and any of these you do not get to in the day you are able to visit within the year for free.
My favourite by far was the Green jacket museum as it has such a vivid display set up and having watched the Sharp series as a young teenager as many of us will have done it is hard not to appreciate all that you are seeing in there.
As you begin to work your way around the route you quickly learn why the the Regiment wears the green jacket and indeed where and when this change took place.
It was great to see that the museum had several “interactive” exhibit’s including Rifle and muskets you could aim at you friends…
Some of the displays have recorded audio with a commentary on what you are looking at as seen with the rifleman below.
Clearly as a terrain builder and war gamer I could not help but be impressed by the Napoleonic era at the museum as it has a massive waterloo diorama.
As you can see the model offers a great cinematic view of the battle.
There is an audio and light display which runs automatically every 10 minutes or so and last around 5-6 minutes.
The table is not an exact representation of one particular point in the battle but instead shows lots of key moments such as the charge of the French cavalry by general Ney, the Prussians arriving at Napoleon’s flank, the old guard advancing etc
The Scale represented was an odd one… 1 figure on the table represented 9 men on the field that day.
Above is an interactive quiz based on the events of the day which we held our own on..
There is plenty to keep the young children entertained as the museum has a dress up section with uniforms of various roles within the armed forces and also a play area of sorts with military toys.
All Reg needed was a couple of D6 and he would have been happy there for the day!!
Having gone back to pick up Reg we finished the tour with the most modern section which includes the regiments actions in Northern Irland, Afganistan etc.
This are boast some life size exhibits showing the up to date kit and weapons now used.
Comparing the initial arms used at the beginning of the tour to the current arms and kit it strikes you just how rapidly things have moved on from marching in line with drums etc blazing to a new type of warfare conducted by a few men with a much more comprehensive choice of strategies at they’re disposal.
Moving on from the green jackets museum we walked around 100 yards to the old garrison on the site which has been turned into a café attached to the AGC museum.
Coffee and toasties followed by a look around this smaller museum which houses a selection of uniforms and displays dating back to before the first world war.
Again there are uniform you are able to wear making it as interactive as possible.
Great idea having the café attached as you can recharge and then move on.
Next up was the Gurkha museum which is still on the same sight and less than 5 minutes walk from both the Green jacket museum and the Café on sight.
First impressions were it was very compact and stacked with exhibits. We took around 1 ½ hours to make it around.
There is so much to see though and it was fascinating learning about the history of the Gurkhas. I had very little knowledge of this beforehand so took my time to digest what I was seeing. Some truly epic battles between the British and the indigenous population of Nepal are explained.
I found it really interesting reading about how the British eventually stopped fighting them and took them into the military due to the respect that had learned for them. This relationship exists to this day clearly.
Again there are many interactive exhibits too.
My one suggestion would be to go during quiet periods as I could see this become a difficult area if it was busy.
In the same building you will find “ Horse power, The Museum of the cavalry regiments”.
I had looked forward to this as I am currently researching a battle during the English civil war around Abingdon, unfortunately this was closed on the day. As we had bought a ticket covering all the museums I will no doubt be back and use the ticket for this site as it was not used on the day.
Next up was the Royal Hampshire regiment museum, this is a 5-10 minute walk depending on which route you take but easy to find.
As the name suggests it houses the history of the royal Hampshire regiment and has a small memorial garden outside.
Through the main entrance you are greeted with a life size display as seen below..( weird chap with the pencil is not part of the exhibit!!) Unfortunately we took him home with us.
Inside the museum there is a complete history of the regiment up to present day.
Specific exhibits that caught our attention where the regiments involvement in the landings on the Italian coast during WW2.
There are several interactive exhibits and as much as Richard and I wanted to take this one for a jolly we thought better of it.
One exhibit sparked a debate that we have had so many times at club!!
What would you rather have Bazooka or PIAT?!?
Having used both while playing Bolt Action there is no way I’m taking the PIAT!!(even if it is less points lol)
All in all another museum worth taking the time out to explore,
Last on our plan form the day was the Winchester city Museum.
About a 10-15 walk into the heart of the town a museum dedicated to the history of Winchester its self.
Based over three floors it covers period from Roman times up until today.
I was in particular looking forward to seeing a model that had been built of the town a couple of years ago.
Paying to get in turned into a bit of a farce as they needed all kinds of information for gift Aid I believe, with every member paying separately and only one till to pay this took far too long!
We were advised to start on the top floor and work down as this gives a chronological order to the museum.
One of our members Jeremy was very impressed with the collection of roman coins held here.
Lots of interaction with roman pottery identification which we were all truly awful at!
Although I don’t have pictures of it I was really impressed by the Viking ere display they had which had burial head stones for some of the Viking legends I’ve read about.
The main attraction as I mentioned was the scaled model of the city completed with a video/audio presentation detailing the creation of the model.
There’s no way they are going to let us play on it!!
After this we headed to the pub and managed to catch the end of a six nations game before heading home.
Must have been good day as members were already suggesting ideas for next time!!
Russell February 2023