Colonel Alexander Popham
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Colonel Alexander Popham was commander in the Parliamentarian army during the English Civil Wars. He was also the owner of Littlecote House, which was an armoury and garrison. This armoury can be seen today at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
Explore this equestrian portrait of Alexander Popham to discover more about him.
Alexander raised men from his estate and the surrounding country, and equipped a troop of cavalrymen to fight for Parliament in the English Civil Wars.
In total there are 37 buff coats in the Littlecote collection, 34 are of the same type, with flared skirts, and double sleeves. There are also 33 pieces of harquebusier armour. It is highly probable that these are munitions armour which was “mass-produced”, 100 at a time and was of poorer quality than the “tailor-made” armour of the rich.
The cavalry raised by Parliament were usually without buff coats. Regiments of foot ideally had 1,000 soldiers divided into 10 companies. Each of these pikemen and musketeers would need to be armed.
Power and status
Alexander holds a baton, which symbolised his power and status. He supported Cromwell and was on the Council of State when Cromwell’s Commonwealth came to an end, but he received a pardon on the accession of Charles II in 1660 as he had assisted General Monk in restoring Charles II to the throne.
Alexander’s full armour would have been ‘tailor-made’ for him. It is very expensive armour and displaying his status and wealth.
Fashion, power and wealth
This sword is from Sri Lanka and is called a ‘Kastane’. Examples of these can be seen in the Oriental Gallery floor 5 of the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
It was a very fashionable sword and showed how rich and powerful Alexander was. New trading links with South Asia and the Far East meant that objects from these areas were highly sought after.
Donnington Castle near Newbury where Alexander Popham fought in the second Battle of Newbury in 1645.