The Royal Armouries - Leeds

The Royal Armouries - Leeds

The Royal Armouries - Leeds
The Royal Armouries - LeedsAfter spending the first three days of my current trip in London it was now time to break out. I had purchase a BritRail pass and would now put it to work. The train trip to Sheffield was pretty straight forward. After arriving my first goal was to dump my luggage. I had planned to meet someone who I had met on the Internet but unfortunately we got our signals crossed and we missed each other by 15 minutes. I had hoped to visit at least one train shop while in England and had it in mind to check out Rails of Sheffield because I had heard good things about them. After finally getting proper directions I took the bus to their shop. The shop to be honest was a let down. Portions of it were simple inaccessible due to old stock and boxes being strewn about.  It seemed clear that their main business came via mail order and the internet. I did find a Pullman Coach to purchase. After Sheffield I had planned to stop off in Leeds and visit the Royal Armory but decided to continue to York and put off my visit for another day.  

The Royal Armouries - LeedsThe Royal Armouries - LeedsLeeds is a short hop from York and I left the first thing in the morning. The Armoury is off the beaten path or at least that path which you traverse by foot. I had to travel across bridges, freeways and even a housing project in order to get to the museum. Having finally arrived I had to wait until the Museum opened. I took the opportunity to visit the museum store but regretfully my luggage could only hold so much. There were a number of books I would have liked to purchase. Originally a lot of the material on display here was either at the Tower in London or in numerous warehouses and other nooks and crannies around the country. The Armouries are Britain's oldest national museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world. It began life as the main royal and national arsenal housed in the Tower of London. Occupying buildings within the Tower for making and storing arms, armour and military equipment for as long as the Tower itself has been in existence.

The Royal Armouries - LeedsThe Royal Armouries - LeedsThe Royal Armouries - LeedsInitially only invited visitors were allowed to visit the Tower to inspect the Royal Armouries. Potentialrivals were shown row upon row of arms and armour in order to impress upon them the power of the country. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I less exalted foreign and domestic visitors were allowed to view the collections, which then consisted almost entirely of relatively recent arms and armour from the arsenal of King Henry VIII. To make room for the modern equipment required by a great Renaissance monarch Henry had cleared the Tower stores of the collections of his medieval predecessors.

The Royal Armouries - LeedsThe Tower and its Armouries were not regularly opened to the paying public until King Charles II returned from exile in 1660. Visitors thencame to see not only the Crown Jewels but also the 'Line of Kings', an exhibition of some of the grander armours,mounted on horses made by such sculptors as Grinling Gibbons, and representing the 'good' Kings of England, and the 'Spanish Armoury', containing weapons and instruments of torture said to have been taken from the 'Invincible Armada' of 1588. 19th century the nature and purpose of the museum began to change radically. Displays were gradually altered from exhibitions of curiosities to historically 'accurate' and logically organized displays designed to improve the visitor by illuminating thepast. As part of this change items began to be added to the collection in new ways, by gift and purchase, and this increased rate of acquisition has continued to this day.

The 'old Tower' material was joined in the last 150 years by the world-wide material which now makes the Royal Armouries one of the greatest collections of its type inthe world. As the museum's collections continuedto expand the Tower became too small to house it all properly. The Royal Armouries - LeedsIn 1988 the Royal Armouries took a lease on Fort Nelson, a large 19th-century artillery fort near Portsmouth. This is now open to the public and displays the collection of artillery. In 1990, after two years of preliminary research and deliberation, the decision was taken to establish a new Royal Armouries in the north of England in which to house the bulk of the collection of world-wide arms and armour, thus allowing the Royal Armouries in the Tower to concentrate upon the display and interpretation of those parts of the collection which directly relate to the Tower of London. The concept of the Royal Armouries in Leeds had been born. The new museum has been developed specifically to show the collections of the Royal Armouries in the best possible way. Which in modern parlance includes being installed behind glass. What may improve the display makes takingpictures more difficult. Luckily the museum was well lighted with an abundance of natural light. Besides the usual armour there were displays on hunting rifles and arms from around the world. There were signs that trumpeted the fact that the museum had recently won several awards and after my visit I could see why this was.

One of the most popular additions to the museum is the usage of actors in costume who demonstrate various aspects of the collection. The fun and excitement continues outside in the summer months where you can enjoy skilled demonstrations of jousting, falconry and horsemanship. 

The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds

The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds The Royal Armouries - Leeds


The Royal Armouries - Leeds