The Royal Armouries is Britain’s national museum of arms and armour. With locations in the northern England city of Leeds, at the Tower of London, Fort Nelson on the southern coast of England and even in Louisville, Kentucky (in collaboration with the Frazer History Museum), the Armouries’ collection consists of some 70,000 examples of arms, armour and artillery dating from antiquity to the present day.
The Royal Armouries includes royal armours of the Tudor and Stuart kings; arms and armour of the English Civil Wars, including the Armoury from Littlecote House; British and foreign military weapons from the Board of Ordnance and MOD Pattern Room collections; hunting and sporting weapons, as well as an exceptional collection of oriental arms and armour.
At the Leeds Museum alone there are more than 8,500 objects on display in five galleries: War, Tournament, Oriental, Self Defence and Hunting. The highlights of a visit there are many but here a few must-see items.
The museum’s elephant armour is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest animal armour in the world and one of the last surviving examples of elephant armour.
This masterfully crafted and ornate helmet was part of a gift from the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I to King Henry VIII of England.
Japanese armour that was a gift to James I of England, VI of Scotland.
Hall of Steel
An elegant steel and glass tower that can be seen from every floor, this is the architectural centrepiece of the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. Offering views of Leeds, Clarence Dock and the Aire/Calder navigation canal, it also serves as a display consisting of mainly 17th century armour and 19th century military equipment. There are more than 2,500 objects in the hall, making it the largest mass display of arms and armour since the 19th century.
The Royal Armouries Museum is located at Clarence Dock, only a short distance from the centre of Leeds I West Yorkshire. It’s a 10-minute walk from Leeds Bus Station and 20-minute walk from Leeds Rail Station. Admission to the museum is free. However, there may be a small charge for some special events. The museum is open all year daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. except for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Find out more at www.royalarmouries.org.
Experience the museum for yourself and jump on a flight to Leeds today!
Photo: Chris Osburn