Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds ANNE CURRY: But here I am in the White Tower of the Tower of London at the Battle of Agincourt Exhibition. And I’m very pleased to have with me Dr. Malcolm Mercer from the Royal Armouries, who is the Curator of Tower History and the curator of this exhibition. Now tell me about when the exhibition started.
Skip to 0 minutes and 27 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Well the exhibition started just a couple of days before the 600th anniversary, so the 23rd of October, just in time for the anniversary weekend. And it’s been running ever since and closes at the end of January.
Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds ANNE CURRY: Has it been popular?
Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Incredibly popular. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback actually.
Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds ANNE CURRY: Excellent.
Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: The range of objects and the exhibition as a whole.
Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds ANNE CURRY: Of course, not everybody will have been able to come and see the exhibition, but there is a way, I think, of people knowing what was in it by your publication.
Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Absolutely Anne, we produced a volume about the exhibition and the Battle of Agincourt. It’s called the Battle of Agincourt, edited by you and myself, Anne Curry, Malcolm Mercer. And inside, we have incorporated scholarly articles from leading experts in the field on different aspects of the history and the period.
Skip to 1 minute and 22 seconds ANNE CURRY: So what next?
Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Let’s go and have a look at the model, Anne.
Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds ANNE CURRY: Great.
Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: So here we are at the model, Anne.
Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds ANNE CURRY: I know. I think this has been the piece de resistance of the exhibition Malcolm. It’s been great for me being involved right from the start, seeing the first little polystyrene blocks with a few soldiers in it. But you must be very proud of this model.
Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: No, I’m really pleased. A lot of hard work and effort has gone in from the whole of the project team, but particularly the model makers in its creation.
Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds ANNE CURRY: Who were the model makers?
Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: The model was made by MM Dioramas, a chap called David Marshall, in association with the Perry brothers, who have a lot of experience in creating models and the figures that go on them.
Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds ANNE CURRY: Yeah, I know that we put in a lot of work advising them on the figures, on the heraldry, on the layout. There was quite a lot of experimentation, I think, with the positioning. But someone told me that the landscape itself is interesting.
Skip to 2 minutes and 27 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Well, the landscape itself, it’s been contoured using key topographical data for the region. But as a nice extra touch, on a visit by the Royal Armouries to the battlefield site, we actually gathered some of the earth from the field itself, which was subsequently incorporated into the terrain.
Skip to 2 minutes and 47 seconds ANNE CURRY: I think what you’re getting in this too, if we can turn to the figures themselves, the English of course, had a very small number of men-at-arms. I think the model makers have shown very well the three divisions of English, with the King of course, in the middle division there. The effect of the archers in the sort of horseshoe, I think shows very much what happened to the French.
Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Yes well, it looks as if there are a tremendous amount of archers, and obviously there were, approximately 7,000, but the way they’ve been deployed, it gives you that very strong sense of, not only did they disrupt the cavalry charges that there are, but when they’re shooting against the advancing men-at-arms, they’re forcing them to bunch together. So you see that effect, and that really works as well.
Skip to 3 minutes and 39 seconds ANNE CURRY: Two problems with verisimilitude, one is that the stakes, because of the constraints of a model, could only be put in front of the front row of archers. The other thing that was a problem, and I can remember this really from the first planning meeting for a model, was what to show in the battle. It can’t be just one moment in the battle.
Skip to 4 minutes and 1 second MALCOLM MERCER: No. I think it’s fair to say this model works very hard for what it does. The key moment that you’re seeing, those two armies about to clash. It’s those final few moments there. The English archers are just about to retire. In fact, you can see some who have started to retire, but you’re also trying to tell a number of other stories at the same time. So you’re trying to show how the archers have disrupted the French cavalry charges. Clearly these things did not all happen at the same time. And we’ve also got English archers in the woods as well, which shows them trying to disrupt–
Skip to 4 minutes and 35 seconds ANNE CURRY: That’s on the far side of this model. And I think I’m right, too, Malcolm, that the cavalry on this side are shown in disarray where the horses are starting to turn and clash into each other. Whereas on the other side, the formation is kept there. So the ones in the middle are portrayed in full armour, and these were very cleverly done by the model makers because they’re actually in little groups of men all moulded together.
Skip to 4 minutes and 59 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: So it shows the effect of bunching together very well.
Skip to 5 minutes and 2 seconds ANNE CURRY: Ironically, through the way the models are made. Now there are many little portholes and periscopes, and I should imagine that visitors find those fascinating.
Skip to 5 minutes and 10 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: That’s been one of the real successes of this model. You’re able to get a sense of the battle and the different moments that are happening from a number of perspectives.
Skip to 5 minutes and 21 seconds ANNE CURRY: I was particularly impressed, too, with these little vignettes of the individual characters, because of course, not only is there a little historical narrative about them, but presumably the Royal Armouries photographed the little models of that character. So what we see in the photographs here are the actual figure.
Skip to 5 minutes and 42 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: They weren’t able to incorporate every figure, but we’ve got key commanders here.
Skip to 5 minutes and 47 seconds ANNE CURRY: Both French and–
Skip to 5 minutes and 48 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: French and English. French and English. We had to adopt a very basic idea. We’ve laregely got English one side, and French the other side.
Skip to 5 minutes and 56 seconds ANNE CURRY: So what has been the visitor response to this model?
Skip to 5 minutes and 59 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: Overwhelmingly positive. Being able to visualise and draw a sense of what’s going on just from objects isn’t always easy. So this has allowed people to understand how men might have been armed and equipped.
Skip to 6 minutes and 13 seconds ANNE CURRY: You must get a lot of questions about how many figures there are on here.
Skip to 6 minutes and 18 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: It has cropped up on a regular basis. What we have is about 4,300 figures or thereabouts, which is approximately 1 to 5 if we take that.
Skip to 6 minutes and 33 seconds ANNE CURRY: So I’ve got to ask, what is going to happen to this model next?
Skip to 6 minutes and 36 seconds MALCOLM MERCER: It’s planned– well, it will be going up to Leeds, to the Royal Armouries up at Leeds, where it will be placed on display. The idea being in a larger Hundred Years’ War setting. Again with arms and armour. So it will be on permanent display there.
Skip to 6 minutes and 55 seconds ANNE CURRY: I’m very pleased to hear that. I think it will attract a lot of visitors to Leeds to the Royal Armouries. But many thanks Malcolm. I’m going to have a closer look down this little periscope.
Tower of London Agincourt exhibition: creating a new model
In this video, Anne and Malcolm Mercer discuss the model at the heart of the 2015 Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London.
This model was created especially for the exhibition and is now in permanent residence at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Anne and Malcolm comment on how it was made, the decisions behind its format and design, and how it reflects recent research into the battle.
Compare the information you find here with our earlier step discussing an older representation of the battle. Do you think the design decisions for the new model were good ones? What aspects would you have included in such a model?
© University of Southampton 2015