An interesting fact is that since time immemorial Britannia has been at war many times and often with itself. To really understand this country’s history one destination should really be included – a visit to The Royal Armouries Museum at Clarence Dock in Leeds.
Here the visitor will be left with one image – the image of weapons and the part that they have played in the history of the British Isles and the world.
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
– Winston Churchill
The inquisitive mind cannot fail to be fascinated by these iconic symbols of power – sometimes used for aggression and often used for defence.
“CRY ‘HAVOC!’, AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR”
The museum’s collection is so vast that it is housed in several locations across the country including The Tower of London and Fort Nelson in Portsmouth. In fact, the collection is so huge that to view it in its entirety you will need to travel the length and breadth of England.
There is now a magnificent collection housed at the Royal Armouries purpose built museum in Leeds which is the perfect location to commence the journey from ancient warfare and armaments to the modern weapons of today. There are 75,000 items are within the collection and a large majority of those are on display in Leeds and the Tower of London, plus the larger ordinance (guns) at Fort Nelson.
At the Leeds there is a magnificent collection of the mounted men at arms, knights and foot soldiers. This spectacle of war at its most chivalric is truly breath taking. The visitor is given the opportunity to listen to first-hand accounts from the men and women who fought and often died in conflicts across history and around the word. These accounts powerfully ‘bring home’ the human side to the many thousands of artefacts on display.
Famous battles such as The Battle of Waterloo are laid out with fine detail which includes a display built by the very men who fought at the Battle on that terrible yet wonderful day on the 18th June 1815.
The armouries cover a timespan from the ancient Greeks and Romans through to the Saxons, Vikings Normans. From Greek Hoplite to Medieval Knights the displays take you back in time. Highlights include Henry VIII’s foot combat armour used for the ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’ tournament in 1520 (which was fitted and then rejected), the splendid armour of the Stuart kings and who owned the mysterious Lion Armour and the body armour and killing machines of the English Civil Wars. All is on display for the visitor to peruse at their leisure.
One of the most magnificent floors in the Royal Armouries of Leeds is the Oriental Gallery which is dedicated to the Japanese Samurai, ancient China soldiers and even the warriors of the Mongol Empire. The splendour of the Mongol Cavalry is matched by a magnificent armoured Asian war elephant ready for battle. What a sight it must have been to witness not just one but 40 of these magnificent beasts thundering across the battlefield.
MAKING IT PERSONAL
To add to the ambience of the museum there are regular appearances from staff dressed in appropriate period uniforms and battle dress. They are often discussing – some times from detailed written records what it was like to be at the Battle of Agincourt during the 100 years’ war, the battle Atrium & Gettysburg during the American Civil War, or on the Western Front during the First World War.
Finally, outside in the Jousting arena (the Tiltyard) visitors can watch the reenactors go at each other with all the splendour, grace and lustre befitting times of long ago – demonstrating very clearly that on the global stage The Royal Armouries is the home of world jousting and it’s dangerously entertaining. Would you stand and deliver?
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Bar Lane, Roecliffe, Boroughbridge
North Yorkshire, England, YO51 9LS
+44 (0)1423 322 683
- Address: Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom, LS10 1LT
- GPS: 53.7898533,-1.530841099999975
- Phone: 0044 (0)1132 201 999
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: LS10 1LT
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Excellent
- Visibility from Road: Good
- Image Credits: Phil MacD Photography