Sunday 23 July 2023

Lorraine Churches Completed

The two churches forming part of the Lorraine FPW project are now complete. As both models are based on actual churches, I thought I'd show you photos from my research folder, so you can see how far they reflect the originals. And also how far they don't -because the often-discussed constraints of space and groundscale mean they have to be "condensed". So there are simplifications, volumes are reduced, three side windows become two, and the details are somewhat larger in proportion to the whole building. Nevertheless they do reflect the originals in style, colour and atmosphere.

The first original is the church in the village of St Privat, a key point in the epic battle of that name and the site of a famous painting by Alphonse de Neuville.  This photo is obviously taken immediately after the battle and is the only photographic record that's come down to us. I did find a very rough sketch taken from the other end of the building, but that's it for source material.Althought the famous churchyard wall and gate is still standing the church was demolished and a more elaborate replacement built in a different part of the village.

Photographed roughly from the same angle as the above shot, I am fairly happy with the way this evokes the original, subject to the constraints I mentioned. How did I know what the roof and spire were like, you may wonder. Well all the village churches in these parts had roofs of the same pantiles as the houses. There are a number of paintings of the battle which vaguely show the shape and materials of the spire, so I've gone by the one that is most accurate in other details.

These are very much the standard elements of the Lorraine village church, which don't vary as much as in other regions of France. I experimented with a new way of representing semi-exposed stonework, which as come out OK-ish, but not all that I was hoping for, so I'll experiment further in future. I've posed the model with a stand of Perrys chasseurs a pied, painted by Garry Broom.

The second church is inspired by the one at a place called Bremenil, which is nearby in Lorraine, although not specifically fought over in the FPW. What made me choose it was the nice, unusually-shaped spire. I nearly went with the the church of Rezonville instead, and one correspondent kindly sent me further images, but I just liked this one best. I had hoped to show the interesting way the main roof slopes down to the front, but the condensed proportions didn't allow this in the end.

This church is still standing, despite heavy damage in World War One, so it's easy to get modern images of the colours and details such as the door surround. As mentioned in a WIP post, I made the spire from the Redutex texture sheets, but I completely overpainted them in fact.

As with the Lorraine houses, the stonework and rendering varied within a certain range of colours. In the end I made the crosses on both churches out of 1mm brass sheet for robustness, sawn and filed to shape. The worst that tabletop accidents can do to a solid brass part is bend it or break it out, either of which can be quickly repaired. 


  1. Two wonderful churches there John and given the constraints mentioned, more than past muster:)!

  2. Fantastic work John,these really look great and I should think they would be instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with the originals. I think you've done a great job "condensing" these churches and it is interesting to see them against the source material and think about how I would have gone about it.
    The exposed stonework looks good to me also by the way.

  3. Another two miniature masterpieces John - simply wonderful model making!

  4. Thankyou very much, chaps! Some post subjects do have more impact and evoke more enthusiasm than others, naturally enough, and this wasn't one of them! There are a couple of things I would try doing a differerent way another time, but these will serve fine as part of the larger project.

    Meanwhile I have nearly finished painting the tavern "a la Croix de Lorraine", plus the freestanding village cross and pumps. They should be done, photographed and painted in a few days time. I think they are coming out pretty well actually. Of the buildings shown as WIP that will just leave the kit-bashed industrial building to paint.

  5. The need to compress and condense buildings and still make them historically recognizable is definitely an art! I think you hit the nail on the head with these two churches. The churches look great with the troops deployed around them, it really sets the scene. I love scratchbuilding like this but these days kit builds (heavily modified) are the rule of the day.

    1. Thankyou very much, Heisler. Kitbashing is a very good way to get something that looks detailed whilst not taking up too much time. You can get away with using kits that are supposed to be a different scale, eg the model railway peoples' "HO" or 1/87. The trick is to get at least the ground floor doors having a credible height. This was pioneered by the late, great Peter Gilder back in the 1980's.

  6. Splendid looking churches!
    Best Iain

  7. Thanks, Iain!

    By the way, the other Lorriane buildings are all painted now and ready to be photographed.