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Royal Armouries

Home > Bournemouth > Museums | Free | Day Trips
by SophiesNotinKansas (subscribe)
I'm a London-dwelling northern lass who swapped the East End for Far East on the trip of a lifetime. I blog about food, travel, yoga and spirituality.
Published January 15th 2013
Make love, not war
Leeds Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries in Leeds

The Royal Armouries are national museums of arms and armour and we have three in Great Britain. The first (as you might expect) is located at the Tower of London, the second at Fort Nelson in Portsmouth and the third in West Yorkshire, just a few minutes walk from Leeds city centre. With over 8,500 artefacts on display, Leeds Amouries is definitely worth a visit and it warrants a full day trip to take advantage of everything that is on offer.
Clarence Dock,Leeds,Royal Armouries
The Modern Development at Clarence Dock

The impressive museum spans 5 floors in a modern concrete and glass building in the development at Clarence Dock. On each floor is a gallery with exhibitions covering War, Tournament, Oriental, Self Defence and Hunting. The exhibits range from ornate armour, helmets and shields to paintings depicting historic battles, from fashionable Tudor armour to Japanese Samurai swords.
Elephant armour, Leeds armouries, museum
Elephant Armour
The Oriental collections are some of the most interesting, with a fascinating collection of arms from Malaysia and Indonesia, Borneo, Sri Lanka and the Hill Tribes of India. Perhaps the most impressive piece is an entire suit of elephant armour - apparently the only example of such in any public collection in the world and it features in the Guinness Book of Records. There is also a fascinating bijous India gallery, documenting the rise of the East India Company, Imperialism, British Rule and Westernisation in India.
Leeds Royal Armouries,Vampire Prevention Kit
Staking a Claim: the Vampire Slaying Kit

One of our favourite exhibits was upstairs in the hunting section - a novelty 20th century 'vampire slaying kit' inspired by 19th Century folklore and fiction. It contains everything you might need to slay a blood-sucking beast, including rosary beads, a crucifix, a mallet, four wooden stakes and a pistol (apparently if all else fails, you can shoot a vampire.. good to know!)
Royal Armouries, Leeds, Museum, Arrow, Interactive
Trying our hand at shooting a bow and arrow
We had fun playing on the many interactive displays, including trying our hand at shooting a bow and arrow.
Royal Armouries, Leeds, Museum, Uniform, Interactive
Trying out the tactile displays

Some of the exhibits were especially designed to be tactile, allowing visitors to feel what armour or uniform is like to the touch. This really enhanced our understanding of some of the artefacts and is good for involving children and those who are blind or partially sighted, too.
Visitor engagement, royal armouries,Museum,Leeds
One of the theatrical members of the Visitor Engagement Team gives a talk

The visitor programme at Leeds Armouries is absolutely excellent, with talks and tours happening throughout the day. We attended two talks - about the evolution of armour during the English Civil War and about the kind of armour used in jousting tournaments. We were even given the opportunity to handle the weapons at the end - the blades were removed, of course, so it was safe.
Leeds Royal Armouries, War Gallery
Having a blast in the War Gallery

The tournament talks was given by a very theatrical member of the Visitor Engagement Team who managed to deliver it flawlessly and with a great deal of energy, despite being dressed in a full suit of armour. During the summer months there is also an programme of events which takes advantage of the outdoor space for jousting and tournament events
Royal Armouries, Leeds, Museum, Farewell to Arms,Peace,CND,CAAT
Make Peace Not War - Painting in the 'Farewell to Arms' Gallery

Don't be mistaken in thinking that the Royal Armouries are out to promote war or to celebrate Britain's military colonial past. Lots of the exhibits are sensitively curated and are even-sided in their descriptions of various battles. Peace is advocated as preferential to war and interactive displays examine what conditions are necessary for equilibrium to exist - such as democracy and freedom of speech. Sadly, two of these were not functioning correctly on the day we visited.
Royal Armouries, Leeds, Museum, CND,CAAT,Farewell to Arms
Anti War Imagery in the 'Farewell to Arms' Gallery

The Armouries also dedicate the 'Farewell to Arms' gallery to anti war movements such as the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and Campaign Against Arms Trade CAAT and examine the devastating after effects of war, e.g. land mines. Meanwhile, the temporary exhibition 'Other Ranks' by sound artist Amie Slavin gives a poignant reminder of the forgotten voices of the squaddies that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Leeds Royal Armouries,Afghanistan
Playing Soldiers

The exhibits don't just focus on dusty old artefacts - there are displays on modern warfare, including the War in Afghanistan and a thrilling display on Modern Forensics (for those CSI fans amongst us).
Royal Armouries, Leeds, Museum, Afghanistan
The boys plot the enemy route

It's a long day getting around the entire museum, so good job there is a gift shop and a cafe on the ground floor where you can refresh. Alternatively, do what we did and pop out to a nearby pub in The Calls for a pint with your lunch.
Royal Armouries, Leeds, Museum
Queen for a day

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Why? A brilliant
When: Daily 10am - 5pm
Phone: 0113 220 1999
Where: Armouries Drive, Leeds
Cost: Free
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