|Non-departmental public body overview|
|Formed||1983 (40 years ago)|
|Non-departmental public body executives|
|Parent department||Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport|
The Royal Armouries is the United Kingdom's national collection of arms and armour. Originally an important part of England's military organization, it became the United Kingdom's oldest museum, originally housed in the Tower of London from the 15th century, and one of the oldest museums in the world.   It is also one of the oldest and largest collections of arms and armour in the world, comprising the UK's National Collection of Arms and Armour, National Artillery Collection, and National Firearms Collection. Its historic base is in the Tower of London, but today the collection is split across three sites: the Tower, the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, and Fort Nelson near Portsmouth 
From 2004 to 2015, a limited selection of items was also on display in Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States, in cooperation with the Frazier History Museum. 
The Royal Armouries is one of the ancient institutions of the Tower of London and was originally engaged in the manufacture of armour for the Kings of England and their armies. The Office of the Armoury grew out of the department known as the King's Privy Wardrobe at the Tower of London in the mid-15th century. Overseen from 1423 by the Master of the King's Armour, and based in the White Tower, the Office was responsible for manufacturing armour and edged weapons for the monarch and his armies; it functioned alongside the Office of Ordnance, which had responsibility for firearms. 
The Armoury oversaw storehouses and workshops at Woolwich and Portsmouth, and at various royal palaces (most notably the Greenwich Armoury, which specialized in richly decorated ceremonial armour). In 1545, it is recorded that a visiting foreign dignitary paid to view the Armoury collection at the Tower of London. By the time of Charles II, there was a permanent public display there; the "Spanish Armoury" which included instruments of torture and the "Line of Kings"—a row of wooden effigies representing the kings of England. This makes it the first museum in Britain. 
The influence of the Armoury began to wane as traditional weapons gave way increasingly to firearms in the field of war. In the 1620s, swords, lances and items of armour were still used in battle, but for the most part were being issued by the Office of Ordnance (which was becoming a sizeable department of State) rather than by the Armoury. The latter, however, remained staffed and operational until 1671, when it was finally absorbed by the Ordnance Board; the board continued to maintain, and indeed expanded, the Armoury as a museum. 
The Tower was engaged in the development, manufacture and storage of a wide variety of weaponry until the Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855. Thereafter the historic armoury collection remained. Only a small part of this could be displayed, however, and in 1995, much of the artillery collection was moved to Fort Nelson in Hampshire and the following year a new Royal Armouries Museum was opened in Leeds.  The remaining part of the collection relates directly to the Tower.
The National Heritage Act 1983 established the Armouries as a non-departmental public body, now sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The head of the Royal Armouries is known as the Master of the Armouries. This was an ancient office that was revived in 1935 when the Royal Armouries became a national museum.  The current Director General and Master of the Armouries is Nat Edwards. 
The Master of the Armoury was responsible for maintaining a store of armour and weapons for use in the event of war and had an office in the Tower of London. The first use of the title was in 1462.
The Royal Armouries formerly published the Royal Armouries Yearbook. In 2004, that was superseded by Arms & Armour, a twice-yearly peer-reviewed scholarly journal.  
The Board of Ordnance was a British government body. Established in the Tudor period, it had its headquarters in the Tower of London. Its primary responsibilities were 'to act as custodian of the lands, depots and forts required for the defence of the realm and its overseas possessions, and as the supplier of munitions and equipment to both the Army and the Navy'. The Board also maintained and directed the Artillery and Engineer corps, which it founded in the 18th century. By the 19th century, the Board of Ordnance was second in size only to HM Treasury among government departments. The Board lasted until 1855, at which point it was disbanded.
Royal Armouries Ms. I.33 is the earliest known surviving European fechtbuch, and one of the oldest surviving martial arts manuals dealing with armed combat worldwide. I.33 is also known as the Walpurgis manuscript, after a figure named Walpurgis shown in the last sequence of the manuscript, and "the Tower manuscript" because it was kept in the Tower of London during 1950-1996; also referred to as British Museum No. 14 E iii, No. 20, D. vi.
The talwar, also spelled talwaar and tulwar, is a type of curved sword or sabre from the Indian subcontinent.
The Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) was a UK government-owned rifle factory in Enfield, adjoining the Lee Navigation in the Lea Valley. The factory produced British military rifles, muskets and swords from 1816. It closed in 1988, but some of its work was transferred to other sites.
Sir Guy Francis Laking, 2nd Baronet was an English art historian and the first keeper of the London Museum from before its opening until his death.
The Palace Armoury is an arms collection housed at the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta, Malta. It was the main armoury of the Order of St. John in the 17th and 18th centuries, and as such it was the last arsenal established by a crusader military order. Although today only a part of the original armoury still survives, it is still one of the world's largest collections of arms and armour still housed in its original building. The Palace Armoury has been open to the public as a museum since 1860.
The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is a national museum which displays the National Collection of Arms and Armour. It is part of the Royal Armouries family of museums, with other sites at the Royal Armouries' traditional home in the Tower of London, and the National Collection of Artillery at Fort Nelson, Hampshire. The Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, USA also previously housed a collection of artifacts on loan from the Royal Armouries. The Royal Armouries is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Greenwich armour is the plate armour in a distinctively English style produced by the Royal Almain Armoury founded by Henry VIII in 1511 in Greenwich near London, which continued until the English Civil War. The armoury was formed by imported master armourers hired by Henry VIII, initially including some from Italy and Flanders, as well as the Germans who dominated during most of the 16th century. The most notable head armourer of the Greenwich workshop was Jacob Halder, who was master workman of the armoury from 1576 to 1607. This was the peak period of the armoury's production and it coincided with the elaborately gilded and sometimes coloured decorated styles of late Tudor England.
A claymore is either the Scottish variant of the late medieval two-handed sword or the Scottish variant of the basket-hilted sword. The former is characterised as having a cross hilt of forward-sloping quillons with quatrefoil terminations and was in use from the 15th to 17th centuries.
The basket-hilted sword is a sword type of the early modern era characterised by a basket-shaped guard that protects the hand. The basket hilt is a development of the quillons added to swords' crossguards since the Late Middle Ages. In modern times, this variety of sword is also sometimes referred to as the broadsword.
John Hewitt (1807–1878) was an English antiquarian.
Sir James Gow Mann was an eminent figure in the art world in the mid twentieth century, specialising in the study of armour.
The Brocas helm is a jousting helm on display at the Rotunda as part of the Tower of London armoury collection. It was commissioned by an English knight from an Italian armourer.
Guy Murray Wilson, is a British military historian, curator, and museum director. From 1988 to 2002, he was Master of the Armouries and head of the Royal Armouries, the United Kingdom's national museum for arms and armour.
Claude Blair, was a British museum curator and scholar, who specialised in European arms and armour. He is particularly known for his book European Armour: circa 1066 to circa 1700 (1958). He worked in the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London from 1951 to 1956, before moving to the Department of Metalwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he remained until his retirement as Keeper of Metalwork in 1982. He was active in church conservation, and served as a Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1990 to 1993.
Ian Donald Dietrich Eaves,, is a British researcher and consultant on arms and armour. He served as the Keeper of Armour at the Royal Armouries for eighteen years, from 1978 to 1996. Also starting in 1978, and continuing until 1983, he served as the editor of the Journal of the Arms & Armour Society; he was appointed the society's president in 1995, and currently serves as a vice-president emeritus. He has written and translated several articles for journals, including the society's.
Tobias Emanuel ("Toby") Capwell FSA is an American historian who lives and works in London. His principal interest is in European arms and armour of the medieval and Renaissance periods. He is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London. He has written and spoken extensively on both the historical and the practical aspects of his subject. He is a skilled jouster, and has claimed to be the world's only jousting curator.
John Waller was an English pioneer of the historical European martial arts (HEMA) revival, a fight director for stage, screen and spectacle, and a teacher of martial arts.
Terry English is a British armourer, mainly designing and making arms and armour, as well as props, for film and television productions. His work is held in museums such as the UK's Royal Armouries, and in private collections.
Jonathan Steven Ferguson is a British firearm historian and author who is currently the Keeper of Firearms and Artillery at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England. He is also a technical specialist with Armament Research Services, a consultancy firm.