Friday, October 02, 2015

I have been to... Tower Armouries...

The recent trip to the "smoke" [clicky] allowed the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and I to have a very enjoyable overnight stay (we stayed at Imperial College London [clicky] for the night which I wholeheartedly recommend - cheap for London, but clean/modern), and a little bit of sight seeing the next day..

When we got off the tube for the college it takes you past the entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum (in fact it also take you past the Natural History, and Science Museums as well - the accommodation was really well located), and Steve the Wargamer has never visited it - over dinner I suggested we go, and as the the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer hadn't been either (or so she thought - she remembered going a while ago once she was in there) the first stop of the day was there....

From a purely wargaming perspective (and that is I guess the primary point of this blog at least) there isn't a lot there of specific interest - the museum specialises in fine arts through the ages, so clothing, sculpture, furniture, etc. Clearly there is some crossover though, and I found some of the 18th century galleries interesting (swords and some armour)...

Pikeman's armour... they were most dismissive of the lack of skill shown in the making of the helmet...

War of the Roses era sallet - they were the opposite with this as the entire helmet (not visor) was beaten out from a single sheet of metal...
What it does house however (and mea culpa I had no idea), is Trajan's column! Now I'm no Ancients player or specialist, but even I know the importance of this particular piece of stonework with regard to our knowledge of later/Imperial Roman military dress...  I've left these full size in the event anyone wants a closer view (just click to embigen)... the column(s) are by the way, mucking huge!

....all in all it was most enjoyable, but I passed on the opportunity to visit the "Shoes: Pleasure and Pain" exhibition!

After a memorable lunch at the second best pub in Christendom [clicky] we then crossed the river as the one place I've wanted to (re)visit for ages was the Tower of London - I have a distinct memory of visiting when I was about 12 and haven't been since, and as the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer is very knowledgeable on, and interested in, Tudor history (Henry VIII and his wives especially) and was also keen to see the Crown Jewels (shiny..  shiny!), decision made..

Fine view from Tower Bridge... love that juxtaposition of old and new...

..this is opposite and also on my "bucket list"
Having recovered from the eye watering entry cost (£25 each!) I have to say that the Tower is well worth every penny...  the crown jewels are well presented, and everyone gets an excellent view, but being a wargamer of course, my main interest was the contents of the White Tower, or Armoury (plus ca change by the way - that was my main interest when I was twelve as well!)...

The following may assist with orientation of some of the following pictures....

This is Outer Ward - the modern day entrance is through the Byward Tower (which is behind me in this photo - looking down towards Wakefield (left) and St Thomas (right) towers..

Tower Green from the entrance steps to the White Tower...  Sauron's tower..  err, the Shard, in the distance....

...and in to the armoury/White Tower itself..  I recommend this wholeheartedly, but my camera struggled with the dim lighting conditions so my apologies for the poor photo's..  based on this exhibit alone I would say the £25 was well spent, but I've heard that the Leeds Armoury has the far bigger collection (purely due to space)

So the ground floor has a display of mounted troops - the horses are as much an exhibit, as the figures on them as they are stupidly old (325 years+)...  the story goes that 300 odd years ago after the restoration of Charles II he opened an exhibition (the "Line of Kings" [clicky]) at the Tower where each figure represented a previous king in the armour of the time - basically, a propaganda activity reinforcing the mite of kings and his right to rule...  Over time the exhibition changed/coalesced/moved but the current display tries to bring back together most of that original display.. the whole of one wall is covered with breast plates supposedly taken from the French cuirassiers at Waterloo...

A lot of the displays feature the armours of James I/Charles I/Charles II and of course Henry VIII, and also of that period - mostly tournament armour... magnificent nonetheless

There is also a large collection of pikeman's armour - note the similarity between the front set and the set I saw at the Victoria and Albert - same source I think

More like it - a large'ish selection from the ECW - the boots were almost solid..

Also a mannequin with buff coat, and equipped as a harquebusier [clicky]...

Close up of the carbine and horse pistol..

...and finally - the last room contained artillery and firearms

..I could have quite happily spent another hour in there, but there's only so many muskets Mrs Steve the Wargamer can put up with...

Following - entrance to Waterloo Barracks (in the Tower) first stone laid by the Duke himself in 1854..  accomodation in there for 1000 men!  This is where the Tower Guard live (who are a detachment of whichever Guards regiment is currently detailed to guard the Queen at Buckingham palace so they rotate) - Scots Guards in this case (thistle on the collar, buttons in groups of three)

On the way out.. Bloody Tower in front (Tower Green to my right) - the dude with the red rucksack is going into Wakefield tower - the alleged site where the two princes were murdered [clicky]

A brilliant day out, the Tower is magnificent...


  1. Very nice - planning to visit with my family when I breeze through London in December

    1. If you go in December, the Agincourt diorama the Perry brothers were involved with should still be on display

    2. Paul - I'd recommend Tamsin's advice.. more here:

  2. Nice pics and glad you enjoyed your trip to the Smoke :)

    1. Tamsin - loved it, and a day in the smoke is much to be enjoyed.. but I couldn't live there! :o)

  3. Great photos! I would love to see myself one day if I ever get to that side of the world!

    1. Rodger - definitely.. also a myriad of other places in London!

  4. Superb post ! Haven't been to the Tower since last century; ! 50 Euros admittance ! Crikey !!!

    1. Thanks Jubilo - yes, that was my first visit since last century as well.. :o)