Once Upon a Time in a Castle Far, Far Away…" a local collector created an intricate diorama of a besieged castle in France during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).
"Once Upon a Time in a Castle Far, Far Away…" a local collector created an intricate diorama of a besieged castle in France during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). On display at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum through January, the multi-turreted, six-foot-wide castle is crawling with miniature figures doing battle with bows and arrows, boulders and swords, hatchets and siege weapons. Atop three of the turrets is a fair damsel who is being rigorously defended by a phalanx of knights. A second diorama depicts English archers and French knights facing off at Agincourt in 1415. An actual suit of medieval armor from the museum's collection stands guard near the displays. Each of the 800 miniature figures in the two scenes was meticulously hand-painted by the anonymous collector, who wants to be identified only as the "Marquis de Pombal." "Squire Alexander," age 11, helped to set up the dioramas. The good squire has studied Medieval times in school and said he has "read books with hordes of facts about the Middle Ages." He said he found it especially interesting that "before the battle was declared won, the heralds of both armies had to count the dead, even in such an uneven fight as the Battle of Agincourt." In addition to American made figures, the tiny plastic warriors come from Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Unpainted miniature figures are available in the Museum Store for youngsters who want to make their own scenes. A Medieval Faire will be the theme of the Springfield Museums' December school vacation week programs scheduled for Dec. 26-30, when members of the Society for Creative Anachronism will re-enact life in the Middle Ages.