During our two week holiday in York, we have the immense pleasure of visiting the Royal Armouries Museum (just down the road in Leeds). The best surprise of all was that entry was FREE, brilliant, as usually to visit national treasures like this one it costs you an arm and a leg at least. There is so much to see here you need to schedule a day for the visit.
DAILY ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE:
Here is a sample of activites from our day visit, the events are changed on a daily basis to offer variety.
11.00hrs for 20mins on Floor 4 (Oriental)
Be entertained by STORYTELLING: "HOW THE GUN CAME TO JAPAN" - this was the tale of a Japenese Swordsmith's first encounter with Europeans and their firearms.
11.30hrs for 20mins on Floor 2 (War)
On the stage in this section will be JOAN OF ARC - The Maid of Orleans: 1429 - this being about obviously Joan of Arc during the 100 years war, when she donned armour and led the army of France to Victory against the English, at the town of Orleans.
12.00hrs - lasting 20mins on the Tiltyyard located outside
On offer here was a demonstration of Falconry.
13.15hrs - a 20min display held on the 4th Floor (Oriental)
A Demonstration called 'The Soul of the Samurai' - where sword skills are shown using the Kantana. The demonstration is an ongoing part of their training in the use of traditionsl Japanese and Okinawan weapons, encompassed by the martial art of KOBUDO.
14.00hrs - 20min demonstration held outside in the Tiltyard.
Here you will see demonstrated weapons used by mounted archers from around the world which includes Samurai ad Moughal warriors.
14.45hrs - 15mins Talk - Nurse Edith Cavell: 1915 on the 2nd floor (War)
Here a young actress played the part of Nurse Edith Cavell from 1915 she retold a moving story of the brave British Nurse who risked her life to help hundreds of allied soldiers escape form persecution in occupied Belgium during the First World War.
15.15hrs - 20 mins (Oriental) Floor 4 - The Elizabethan Sword Master
A demonstration of sword and buckler, rapier and dagger techniques, taken form the 16th Century manuals.
16.00hrs - 1hr - (Oriental) Floor 4 - Mastering Arms
This was a lesson in the use of traditional Japanese & Okinawan weapons encompassed by the martial art KOBUDO - lesson was taken by Sensai Charlotte Cooper.
The outdoor activities on thoughout the summer include jousting, falconry and horsemanship.
They have expert gunmakers and leatherworkers in the Craft Court, you can discover how history was made. You can also see animals at close quarters in the Menagerie.
The list of event open during the day were indeed vast and I felt that they were educational and interesting. There is something there for varying tastes. We did not attend all. But the ones we did attend will well presented - The young girl that played Nurse Edith Cavell - acted well into her roll, we watched her from the floor above, there was a large group of people around her hanging on her every word.
Also during the day there are workshops available which are mainly free - there is occasionally a small charge of approx £1.00 for adults and 50p for oap's and children.
These workshops are held between 1100 - 1600hrs - a sample of these are Calligraphy (Demo and workshop), Kumihimo & Kute-chi - (Demonstration of Japanese braiding, a craft which has long been an important part of Japanese culture, Artkark (Hands-on art and craft activites for visitors of all ages.
We did not attend any of these, but I did take a look in on the craft activites and both children and adults in there seemed to be really enjoying themselves, it was held in a very large room with plenty of space for everyone to attend and enjoy the activity.
DAYS AND KNIGHTS TO REMEMBER:
Children's Parties, Sleepovers & Creative Activies
The Museum's ArtKart helps children to let their imagination take over, within arts and crafts, this includes embossing, brass rubbing, drawing, dressing up and playing games, or they can just relax and listen to a story. Any work the children do, they take home to decorate your kitchen, living room, fridge door. (any space left)
Cost : £2.00 per child
The birthday child is a VIP for the day, they are given a guided tour around the museum with their friends, they get involved in art activities and get to meet the horses in the Tiltyard and watch them in action. A birthday party with a theme and a bit different to McDonald's.
Cost : £6.95 per child
Wow, Bed and Breakfast with a difference. Your child will need to bring a sleeping back, they will get a guided tour of the museum and be told facscinating stories about the individual objects bringing history to life. Before they retire in one of the Galleries they will be given a bedtime story and a drink. Not forgetting breakfast in the morning.
Cost : £15.00 per child/ £5.00 per adult.
I have not experienced any of the above three activities, information is from the musuem leaflets from our visit. I must say they do sound interesting and a bit different from the 'norm'.
Now believe it or not I haven't covered everything yet, there is more to come:
THE MUSEUM :
Although The Royal Armouries is Britain's oldest national museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world (this being the Tower of London Armouries). Leeds opened its doors in a brand new beautifully designed glass building during 1996.
It has five floors covering War, Tournament, Self-Defence, Hunting and the arms and armour of the Orient.
I will now try and take you through a tour of the Museum.
You walk through the main doors and go through a security station, where they check your bags with a device to see if you are carrying anything you shouldn't be carrying. Yes I had a metal nail files etc in my handbag, so had to empty the contents until the machine did not bleep. During this current climit you can't complain, it's better to be safe than sorry.
The ground floor comprises of the main restaurant which has a smoking and a non smoking section, they did the usual beverages, light menu, full menu, biscuits, cakes, crisps etc. covering all tastes I may add, my hubby says there coffee did not taste like dishwater which is a pleasant change. Prices here are average for this type of restuarant. We managed baggettes and chips, which were presented well and very eddible.
Also on this floor was two gift shops, one very large gift shop, which covers the main museum, selling artifacts relating to the history, you can by full scale swords, samurai swords, history books, various items for children including plastic armour, helmets, toy swords and various other things you get in gift shops.
Yes I succumbed to the gift shop, spending possibly a little too much for things that caught my eye. I did get a great medieval style birthcard card for my sisters 50th birthday (it was something different).
The other smaller gift shop was for the exhibition they were holding called 'SHOGUN' (I will talk about that later), I looked at this shop and the items were very pretty and relevent to the style of the exhibit - but I did feel that they were very overpriced.
I have also looked on the royal armeries site - www.royalarmouries.org and they have items for sale on there also, so if you missed anything from this shop nip onto the site.
On this level are information sites where you can get the Royal Armouries Guide Book for £3.50. This I can most defineately say is well worth the money, not only does it give you a map of each level (as believe me each level coveres a exceedingly large area with loads of exhibits to look at), but it gives you information to go with it and history on the Armouries.
You can also get a list on the days activities that you may want to participate in. There are also leaflets around 50p which are activities for the children to do with their parents as they go round the musuem - i.e. Treasure Hunt.
Just to get you in the mood there are target simulators around which cost £2.00 a go, these cover various weapons. You can find these machines on most floors. Also there is a chance for you to try you hand on the crossbow (under supervision). On all the floors apart from the ground floor is the computer question machines. You have a list of questions about the exhibits and the history that is appropriate to the floor you are on, it gives you a percentage score at the end. It is a good way of learning as you cannot move forward until you have picked the right answer. (I beat my husband by 5% on this - lol).
To get to each floor you can either use the stairs or take the lifts, there are four lifts available and we never had to wait long for one. We chose to start on the fifth floor and work our way down, the floors. To be honest I am glad we choose to do it this way, because on every other floor there is are magnificent exhibits deplicting scenes representing the area of history on that floor, you can look over the rails at this statues from above and then make your way down to see them from the ground. Fantastic and beautifully designed, seeing them from above first made me want to go down to see them on the level even more.
There is a Restuarant on this floor, which was closed and this floor was the education centre and conference centre. The museum does a lot with schools, we took a quick walk round this but it was just class rooms and a restuarant. Sorry can't give much detail on the restaurant as it appears it may be only open in the evenings.
This area is about WAR - covering - THE BOER WAR: 1899-1902 , CULLODEN: 1746, THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR: 1642-6, THE GREAT WAR: 1914-18, HEREWARD THE WAKE AND THE SEIGE OF ELY: 1071, JOAN OF ARC- THE MAID OF ORLEANS 1429, VIETNAM: 1965-75, ZULU WARS: 1879 and many more persons and stories of wars and battles.
As I said earlier each level is very large with a centre exhibit and various alcoves coming off the centre to walk around. The centre exhibit on this floor is of men on horses in armour.
Not only are the uniforms dressed on to dummies for a more realistic view, you can actually touch the chained armour to see how heavy it must have been to wear. They also exhibit the weapons of each era and war. In this section they even show todays war terrorism and how you would not know you are standing next to a terriorist (frigtening), and for a laugh the war of the future (Star Wars type).
As you walk round some of the sections have a narration going on telling a story which represents the item on display.
The computer quizes on this floor cover Pavia, American Civil War - Sharpsburg, Zulu - Isandlwana and the Great War.
Films showing on this level cover -
Pollock Theatre - Pomp & Ceremony
Introduction to the War Gallery
Bows and Crossbows
How a man schal be armyd
Civil War firearms
The Age of Invention
The American Civil War
The Cavalry Sword
World War 1
World War 2
We watched the odd film on some of the floors we found them to be well presented and informative. Some were like watching a movie, others like watching a documentary.
There was a wonderful exhibit of Pavia Diorama on this level, I must say it is well worth seeing. It was outstanding, unfortuneately our photo did not come out too well, so I will not be displaying it, I will try and describe it, but I doubt I will do it justice. The background setting appears to be a white marble picture frame (guestimate of 20' x 12') showing a war scene in blacks, greys and whites. Infront of this picture on a marble platform was a war scene of two horses and men in armour, one horse raising his front legs in fight, and approximately six men in various outfits (not armour) pointing their weapons towards the horses and their riders. Each of the men in a different pose and one had fallen over just near to the horse. I can only say that it was magnifient and my compliments to the artists that created it, they should be commended. The scene was captured and made to look realistic.
This floor also has toilets and a cafe area.
Here the story of the Tournament unfolds - showing the developement of a form of early Medieval practice of war.
The center piece on this floor demostrates a Medieval Setting, with the tents and the men in armour in side. Horses wearing there Armour - (you have to feel sorry for the horses, carrying all the weight of their armour and a man in armour as well). This is the type of setting you would have found in Henry VIII time.
The setting on all the floors are similar with a centre exhibit and the various areas coming off it.
Computers quizes in this area
Costume for combat
An Introduction to hearaldry (this is the one I beat my hubby on)
Field of Cloth of Gold
The Lion Armour.
Very Impressive once again. Apart from feeling very sorry for the horses of that day and beating my hubby on the quiz nothing else jumped out at me. Just the brilliant displays put out on all floors.
This covers the Oriental - Central Asia, Islam and India, Japanese Arms and Armour, China and Japan, South and South-east Asia. Once again covering there traditional fighting dress, there weapons, the statues in this section were also magnificent, on one section there were 3 (or maybe 4) horses and riders in there tradition gear and weaponary. Also a Mughal Indian Elephant fully armoured for war with his two passengers on its back also dressed for war (dated from about 1600).
'The armour the elephant is wearing was made in the late 16th Century in Mughal India, it is the heaviest armour in the collection, weighing 118kg. Two of the three mail-and-plate panels for the right side are missing, it would have originally weighes approx 159kg. It now comprises of 5,840 plates from an original 8,439. It was bought back to England in 1801 by Lady Clive, wife of Edward 2nd Lord Clive, Earl of Powis, while he was Governor of Madras.'(this snipet of info compliments of my guide book)
This gallery concentrates upon the great civilisations of Asia, and its purpose is to show how arms and armour can provide a key to understanding Asian history.
Japanese Sword Making
The British in India
I found this floor fascinating when you see what they had to wear and weapons they uses. Once again all the models were fantastic and depicted the scenes expertly.
This floor also has toilets and Cafe area (no smoking) for a rest and a cuppa.
Covering Hunting, guns, the armed civiilian. Hunting for sport and Hunting through the ages. The titles here speak for themselves. This floor is also where you can try your talents out on the cross bow.
Conservation in Britain
Conservation in Africa
One of the models here showed a scen of Walter Linnet, a professional wildfowler, hunting birds on the marshes of Blackwater Estuary, Essex in the 1920's - (I have enclosed a picture of this), he looks very uncomfortable. We also watched the film and it was very interesting to see what lengths people went to (have you seen the size of his weapon!).
As you look down on the next level (sorry this is still covered by this section), There is another statue of a hunting scene containing an Elephant, a tiger and the hunter with his servant. This is a magnificent (sorry there's that word again) sulpture, see the picture at the bottom of the review.
For very personal reasons I enjoyed this section, because my father bless him (he passed over now), used to make replica guns. So it was nice to see the real thing, (he was very good, I couldn't tell the difference, apart from my dad usually made them in minature).
The museum is also showing the Shogun Exhibit until 30th August 2005 - entry fee £5.50 per adult, £4.50 O.A.P'S and Children. Last entry to exhibit at 1600hrs.
THE LIFE OF LORD TOKUGAWA LEYASU
Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled over a single nation forged from hundreds of rival factions. His life heralded a period of peace that lasted more than two centuries. Shogun Tokugawa created modern Japan, founding its capital and its political culture, influencing its literature and art. He was made a god, and is honoured today as he was at the height of his power.' For futher info pls go to - www.shogun.org.
We ran out of time to visit this exhibit, it is only there for a short while longer.
The museum is open Daily from 1000hrs - 1700hrs - only closing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
How to get there:
SAT NAV -
Address - Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds, LS10 1LT - 0113 220 1999 - (www.royalarmouries.org)
By CAR (for those like me without Sat Nav)
A64 (m) leave at the Leeds exit to the cross roads turn right then left into Marsh Lane, 2nd right (which is the r/h fork in the road), at the end of the road turn right into East Street at junction left into Crown Point, left fork and left into Chadwick Street and finally left into Armouries Drive and to the multistory car park.
m621 Junction 3, left into Victoria Road, first right Great Wilsont. straight on Hunslet Lane, Left into Carlisle Rd, left into Chawick Street and right into Armouries Drive and onto the carpark.
There are at least 6 CCTV cameras on each level (we counted six on our level), large clean lifts.
Bus and Coach Station is approx 15mins walk away, there are two buses you could catch the number 28 First Leeds, or the 752 Black Prince - various bus-stops around the centre of Leeds.
The Railway Station is approx 20min walk away.
Taxis are available at both the Railway Station and the Bus Station and is approx 5min drive (sorry no idea of cost).
I have never been more impressed about a musuem in my life, I have been to the Tower of London (Which is the oldest Royal Armoury) and it is not a patch on the displays here. It was very clean, very well presented and thought out. There is something for everyone whatever their historic interests.
It offers great interactive family enjoyment.
I was throughly impressed and so was my husband. I may go back one day when my grand-daughter is a little older and join in the family activities.
I would truely reccommend a visit.
All prices and schedules are a sample of what was on offer in August 2005, obviously if you visit in 2006 these may change slightly.
If you are a cinema goer in the Leeds area then there is nowhere better to go and relax infront of the latest releases than Showcase Cinemas just off junction 27 of the M62 (the junction that joints to the M621 which heads into Leeds city centre). I have been to many cinemas in my time (ABC, Warner, Virgin, Odeon, Cineworld) but none come close to a showcase cinema especially not the Leeds one now that it has all stadium seating and the latest screens and dolby surround. There are two new cinema complexs in striking distance of me, I have tried them both (cineworld in the centre of Bradford and the new Odeon on the way to Pudsey) but my number one is still showcase. First of all they are the comfiest. The seats have sprung backs alowing you to rest in the positon you want to rest in not the position the seat was made in and also they have LOADS of leg room. No cramp and pins and needles again if you are fairly tall like me. This showcase also has a huge free car park with plenty of room to accommodate everyone visiting the 14 screens. The prices aren't bad either. At peak times (evenings) a full price ticket is about £5.20 and consessions/off peak times tickets are about £4 with further consessions for OAPs and children under 12. The only thing I don't like about the place but as far as I can remember this applies in other places too the food/drink sold there is very expensive, £1.50 for a regualr coke and about £2.50 for a regular pop corn which isn't actually very big! The service is always very good and they even have a security man who drives round the car park all evening so you feel a little safer that your car will be in one piece when you get back to it. So if you are in the Leeds area and fancy going to the cinema then try Showcase, there will be no substitutes afterwards but go to Saisbury's first and buy you pocorn and pop there (you can get toffee pop ocrn then too, yum!).
The Royal Armouries are Britain’s oldest national museum, and are currently spread across three sites – the museum in Leeds, the White Tower in the Tower of London, and Fort Nelson, Portsmouth. This op concerns the largest of the sites in Leeds, which I visited last week. This location houses the bulk of the collection, minus the artillery pieces (which are in Hampshire) and those items directly relating to the history of the Tower of London. As the name implies, the museum tells the history of armour, weaponry, warfare, hunting and self-defence all from a new museum that was opened less than a decade ago. The collections originate from the royal and national arsenal, which have been housed in the Tower of London ever since it was built. Visitors were admitted to the armouries from as early as the fifteenth century, when foreign dignitaries were given tours designed to impress them with the military might of England. Paying visitors were first allowed into the collection in 1660, when Charles II returned from exile and allowed the crown jewels and some of the grander examples of armour to be viewed – this was, in effect, the first use of the armouries as a national museum. The collections continued to grow from this time (and indeed are still added to), until it became apparent in the 1980s that the expanded stores would soon not fit solely into the Tower. In 1988, the artillery collections were moved to Fort Nelson (which opened to the public in 1995), and in 1990 the concept of having a main museum in the north of England was agreed upon. The Leeds site was chosen as part of a redevelopment package for the city, and the museum was built to a modern design there shortly afterwards. ●Location South Leeds, just outside of the city centre. One of the major complaints to museum staff was the fact that the museum was hard to find, but new signage has recently been put up to correct this problem, so finding the
museum should now be reasonably straightforward if you are driving. Staff have also told me that it is possible to reach the museum by public transport from city centre (sorry, no bus number was given) and that an idea to put a supertram stop nearby is being considered. A location map of the site can be found at www.armouries.org.uk/leeds/findingus.html. ●The building From the outside, this is admittedly not a very awe-inspiring vision – the building is grey and resembles an office block, and the surrounding land has not yet been tackled as part of the regeneration of this area of Leeds. However, the canal is quite attractive, and metallic grey is actually a suitable colour for an arsenal. The entrance is clearly marked, and the hall as you enter has a very modern, open and light feel about it, similar in many ways to that of the National Museum of Scotland if any of you have been there. This area includes a bistro and one of the best museum shops I have had the pleasure of visiting, neither of which were too expensive and were accessible to anyone not wishing to go further inside the museum. It is, though, one of those buildings that seems to play an architectural joke on you – there are places in it where you can see where you want to go but not how to get there! Adding a few layout plans around the place would sort this problem out though. ●The galleries There are five galleries within the museum – war, tournament, oriental, self-defence and hunting – each of which is denoted by a symbol which appears on all the signs and guides to help you find what you want. The larger galleries are equipped with stages where live interpretations are acted out during the day; this is something the museum has become famous for and provide an additional way of helping you learn, as well as being entertaining. The programme changes on a daily basis, and you will be provided with a list of interpretation ev
ents for that day when you enter. I tried to see as many of these as possible, and went to the following: - Storytelling on how the gun came to Japan - Gallery tour led by a senior curator in the self-defence section - A first world war munitions worker talking about the local factory - An interpretation of the battle of Stamford Bridge by a Norwegian soldier War gallery – situated on floor two, this has collections relating to war from earliest history right until the Gulf War. The museum has a small collection of ancient arms and armour, some medieval examples, a reconstruction of the battle of Pavia in 1525, as well as displays on more recent conflicts (ranging from Trafalgar and Waterloo, through the American Civil War to World War Two and later). There are four small cinemas in this gallery, showing films about Agincourt, Marston Moor, Sights and Sounds of War and Modern Warfare, with each film lasting about 15 minutes. As the largest gallery, this has one of the main stages where the live interpretations take place. Tournament gallery – this is the story of medieval practice for war in courtly tournaments. Here you can learn about the three types of tournament (tournery, foot combat and jousting) and displays of combat are sometimes held here as part of the interpretation schedule (not when I went unfortunately). Oriental gallery – containing collections of arms and armour from India, China, Japan, Turkey and Central Asia. This gallery has some amazing pieces in it, including the only example of war elephant armour on public display in the world and some incredible Samurai armour. This gallery also contains a stage for interpretation, as well as running film on Yabusame (Japanese horse archery), the Mongols and the British in India. Self defence gallery – displays relating to the armed civilian, and how ordinary people have defended themselves over time. Exhibits relating to po
cket guns, police weaponry, fencing, the traveller abroad and the Wild West can all be found here, although this is quite a small gallery. Hunting gallery – not quite as interesting as the other galleries in my opinion, maybe because in tried to be too moralistic while other displays remained more neutral. I didn’t spend long in here, but did see some Palaeolithic hunting tools, medieval falconry kit, a display on harpoons and dozens of cases of hunting guns and crossbows. ●Opening times and other information The museum is open 10 – 5 Monday to Saturday From December 1st, admission is free to all national museums, including the Royal Armouries Phone: (0113) 220 1940 Website: www.armouries.org.uk The museum also runs an education service (for school children to adults) and a library relating to the collections and their history. For more information on these services, phone (0113) 220 1832.
Ok, so we have all heard about Leeds, but I feel no one has made a small list of the top places to go see in and around Leeds. There are many places which offer a varying selection of different types of culture and all in the Leeds area. Heres a list of the top of my head that I have visited in this great city!Mother Shiptons Cave Bramham Park Canal Gardens Golden Acre Park Lotherton Hall Estate Roundhay Park Temple Newsam Estate Tropical World Horsforth Museum Kirkstall Abbey Abbey House Museum Armley Mills City Art Gallery Harewood Henry Moore Institute Leeds City Museum Lotherton Hall Middleton Railway Royal Armouries Temple Newsam House Tetley's Brewery Wharf If i have missed out anything them i am sorry but this just shows you leeds in not just the "working class centre of the north". Come and sense the european culture that is now sweeping leeds...
The Leeds Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute are well worth a visit on a rainy afternoon. Entry is free and it takes at least an hour to walk around. The art gallery was opened in 1888, and houses a large collection, from Victorian, Impressionism, to Modernism. The Yorkshire Bank sponsored room is home to some impressive modern art, other highlights are paintings by John Everett Millais. The Henry Moore institute was opened in 1993, but recently redeveloped to provide greater storage. The Institute now houses a range of 2D and 3D sculptures from a wide range of artists, these included many from the eponymous Henry Moore, statues made out of miniture bricks, and some rolled up paper. Yes, rolled up paper, at the moment there is an exhibition by Martin Creed, described by the Guardian as the 'coming man in British work'. His art includes 'torn up paper', 'large piece of furniture partially blocking a doorway' and ' a row of metronomes beating in time', even the flashing lights in the room are art. Also linking onto the galleries is the Craft and Design Gallery, which is a charity who aim to promote craft and design funnily enough. At the moment a collection of different teapots is on display. The gallery is open 10-5 on most days. So go there and say 'I don't know much about art but I know what I like!'