The English city of Leeds in West Yorkshire is famous for its historical museums and cultural landmarks. Citizens and tourists are willing to visit them because they want to learn more and admire the rich historical past. Learn more at leeds-future.
The Leeds museums are truly magnificent, as they combine a variety of cultural exhibitions, vividly presenting past and present lives. If you’re looking to gain hands-on experience, entertain the kids or simply learn more about the culture, all of the local cultural landmarks are worth visiting.
For example, you can explore, learn and see tens of thousands of various weapons and armoured vehicles in the Royal Armouries Museum. Here, visitors can find weapons from the most ancient times as well as the modern ones. There are exhibitions of Japanese samurai, armour of Henry VIII and the legendary armoured Indian war elephant.
In addition, visitors can witness history come to life for free thanks to daily live shows and amazing displays of combat and jousting.
In our article, we tell you more about the history, art and culture of the various weapons and armour on display at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
One of the best and oldest museums in Great Britain
The Royal Armouries Museum is one of the best free museums in Leeds and in the whole of the UK. In addition, it is one of the most important armouries museums in the world. The museum’s staff even claim that it is the oldest museum in Great Britain and one of the oldest museums in the world.
The Royal Armouries Museum was originally located in the White Tower of the Tower of London. The museum developed rapidly during the reign of Charles II. Since then, for extra money, visitors could see special exhibits, such as the Spanish Armouries, which included weapons and instruments of torture.
The museum houses the British National Collection of Arms and Armour, which consists of more than 75,000 items. The exhibits in the White Tower, which were renewed in 1997, tell the story of the tower’s history as a fortress and trace the development of the Royal Armouries and other government institutions that operated there. In addition to the armour of the Kings of England, you can also see some of the finest examples of arms and ammunition produced in the last millennium. Since 2005, the institution has also managed the National Firearms Centre.
The majority of the collection is now on display at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds and the National Collection of Artillery at Fort Nelson, near Portsmouth.
The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds
The Royal Armouries Museum was opened in Leeds on March 30, 1996. It was a modern, spacious museum with a large collection of exhibits that were fascinating and appealed to people of all ages and interests. The new building was designed by the British architect Derek Walker and Buro Happold Limited. The cost of construction was £42.5 million. Since then, the building has been the headquarters of the Royal Armouries family of museums and has housed most of its collections.
The new museum was built in Leeds because the Tower of London became too small for such a huge collection. The museum is located on the waterfront in Leeds Dock. There, you can have a lovely 15-minute walk along the river to the city centre. A significant advantage is that the museum is fully adapted for people in wheelchairs. However, there are some limitations on the jousting arena, which features a traditional slant. It often houses jousting and other combat performances on horseback.
Architectural features and thematic exhibitions
Thanks to high ceilings, designed by the architect Derek Walker, the longest weapons can be displayed vertically. In general, the museum is divided into several thematic galleries. The amazing Hall of Steel displays more than 2,500 objects in symmetrical trophy exhibitions. Here, you can see various helmets, breastplates, daggers, swords, pikes, spears and countless types of firearms. Most of the expositions are devoted to wars of different times, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
One of the largest galleries is Tournament one, which occupies two floors and is dedicated to the era of tournaments and knightly competitions. Here, visitors to the museum will be amazed by the armour used in Tudor-era, including the armour of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, Henry VIII and Sir Robert Dudley, the first Earl of Leicester.
The most mysterious one is the Oriental Gallery, which presents objects from the Islamic world, India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. Most stunning is the Indian war elephant, which is clad in the best-preserved set of elephant armour in the world.
The museum’s enthusiastic staff are constantly creating new exhibitions. One of them is dedicated to the Second World War and another to the Tudors, presenting the armour of Henry VIII. Behind the main building, along the River Aire, there is a 150-metre (492 ft) long inclined arena for jousting demonstrations. In addition, inside, visitors can watch demonstrations of historical weapons and armour use, archery competitions, falconry and jousting, which are often held at Easter and in the summer.
Fans of Aliens, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings have a unique opportunity to see the weapons and armour used in the popular films with their own eyes.
It’s worth noting that The Royal Armouries Museum is free to enter, although some of the temporary exhibitions and attractions can be charged. In addition, there is a cafe where you can have a delicious lunch and a souvenir shop with various interesting trinkets.