Royal Armouries, Leeds

 Update: they appear to have had a slight revamp of the Civil War Gallery. There's a few extra bits on display. 

One of the most stunning museums I have visited (if you can ignore the wealth of smelling mistooks on the exhibit labels and interpretation boards). One of my favourites too.
Lots to see and do. If you have small people in tow, check their Events page.  They usually put a tournament on over the Easter weekend. If you have particular interests check out the schedule of talks and demonstrations before you go, and plan accordingly.

On entry choose the stairs which give close up views of the Hall of Steel.

Civil War interest lies with the Littlecote Collection, the most important surviving armoury of the Civil War; in the audio visual theatre tucked away at the back of the gallery there is a 15 minute dramatisation of events at Marston Moor (on a continuous loop). 

Covid update: one bonus of the Covid pandemic lockdowns has been the rise of online lectures: Keith Dowen, assistant curator at Royal Armouries discusses the Littlecote Collection here.

Spot the mistake on the large interpretation board showing Streeter's Plan of Naseby - it's actually Sturt's Plan, as Sturt's signature is clearly visible, oopsies! Plus of course the harquebusier, cuirassier and pikemen in the main hall. Daily talks on the ECW collection - the highlight being why the armour has bullet dents in them (no spoilers here thank you!).

Colonel Alexander Popham's harquebusier armour

Littlecote Collection display

Zischägge helmets and a pair of secrets, including a rare 'spider' secret on the left of the plinth.

Harquebusiers often wore an armoured left gauntlet to protect their riding hand, here is a rarer leather gauntlet with extra layers of fish-scale leather protection

Close-ups of the 'Lion Armour' which appears in portraits of Manchester, Monck and is believed to be worn by Charles and Rupert on the Forlorn Hope medal.

Tucked away on the fifth floor is a snaphaunce pistol that is believed to have belonged to Prince Charles, who later went on to be King Charles I.

Not shoddy photo cropping, the label refers to a different pair of pistols
There is a new exhibition devoted to arms and armour from the movies. Some interesting Star Wars items (if you need a lure to encourage the rest of the household to go with you). On display is a rubber stunt pistol from the 1970 Cromwell film, displayed alongside a 'real' wheellock pistol.

Dutch drum c1640

The 'other Siborne' model is here, much more accessible and visible than the one at NAM. On the upper floor are the oriental galleries with an impressive collection of samurai armour, and elephant armour. Who doesn't love an armoured elephant?

Too far away for you? Try this Royal Armouries YouTube video tour of part of their Civil War collection.

Littlecote Collection is documented in "The Littlecote: the English Civil War Armoury". Whilst only recently out of print copies can still be found. Update: looks like a reprint is pending as the RA online shop has it listed as 'coming soon'.

My copy has finally arrived, it has a brief history of Littlecote and the people who lived there, how the Armoury was saved from dispersal at auction; whilst the bulk of this very weighty tome catalogues every item in the collection.

Postcodes for SatNavs
Royal Armouries LS10 1LT
Parking can be found at this postcode too

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  1. Lovely display, thanks for posting the rather nice pictures!

  2. You are welcome. Pics aren't the greatest to be honest, the natural light flooding into the gallery makes taking pictures really tricky due to the reflections.


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