10 Unbelievable Facts about the Royal Armouries Museum


The Royal Armouries Museum is a national museum located in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It displays the National Collection of Arms and Armour and is part of the Royal Armouries family of museums.

1. It is sponsored by the department of culture, Media and Sport

Royal armouries- Author; Xtrememachineuk- Wikimedia

The Royal Armouries is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

In the United Kingdom government, the Non- departmental public body is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to public sector organisations that have a role in the process of the national government but are not part of a government department.

On the other hand, the department of culture, media and sport is a department with responsibility for culture and sport in England, the building of a digital economy, and some aspects of the media throughout the UK, such as broadcasting and the Internet. 

2. Royal Armouries is a multi-million purpose-built museum

Royal Armouries Museum- Author; Jeff Buck- Wikimedia

Opened in 1996, the Royal Armouries Museum is a £42.5 million purpose-built museum.

Its collection was previously on display or in storage at the Tower of London where to date, the Royal Armouries still maintain a presence and displays in the White Tower.

3. Entrance is free

royal armouries entrance- Author; Phillip Halling- Wikimedia

In the UK, all national museums do not have an entrance fee. The same goes for the royal armouries which don’t require people who visit them to pay in order to access it. However, certain extra attractions are charged for.

4. It is the earliest project to be done under the private finance initiative

Author; Murat Özsoy 1958- Wikimedia

The museum was one of the first projects that was carried out under the UK private finance initiative.

As a  non-departmental public body (NDPB) (organisations that have a role in the process of the national government but are not part of a government department), the Royal Armouries, contracted with a private sector company, Royal Armouries International (RAI), which was financed by a long-term bank loan together with an equity investment from 3i, Gardner Merchant, Electra and Yorkshire Electricity.

RAI commissioned a new building to accommodate the museum. It was designed by Derek Walker and Buro Happold and built by Alfred McAlpine at a cost of £42.5 million.

It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in March 1996.

5. The museum was designed from the inside out

Hall of steel, royal armouries- Author; Geni- Wikimedia

The Royal Armouries Museum itself was designed from the inside out. The ceiling heights of the new building were designed to accommodate the longest staff weapons in the collections, displayed vertically, and are 6.5 meters off the ground at their highest point.

In addition to the five original galleries which house 5,000 objects in the permanent displays and the more recent Peace Gallery, the museum also includes the Hall of Steel, a giant staircase whose walls are decorated with trophy displays composed of 2,500 objects reminiscent of the historical trophy displays erected by the Tower Armouries from the 17th century.

6. Has an arena as one of its features

Author; Jorge Láscar- Wikimedia

Running alongside the River Aire for 150 metres, with seating on the land-ward side, is the Jousting Arena: though the museum no longer has its own horses, two important jousting contests each year are still held with competitors from all over the world.

Easter is the height of the jousting calendar when the arena hosts a four-day international competition between up to four jousting teams.

The four teams compete from Good Friday to Easter Sunday against each other, with the tournament final on Easter Monday.

Summer sees the jousting season close with the last tournament of the year, an individual joust with jousters from all over the world competing for The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Trophy.

7. Royal Armouries is mentioned in a Kaiser Chiefs Song

Live rock band show- Image by Gabriel Doti from Pixabay

The museum is mentioned in the Kaiser Chiefs song “Team Mate”, from the band’s debut album, Employment.

Kaiser Chiefs are an English indie rock band from Leeds who formed in 2000 as Parva, releasing one studio album, in 2003, before renaming and establishing themselves in their current name that same year.

8. The allusion to the museum’s holding is mentioned in Charles Stross’ novel

Charles Stross- Author; Xanathon- Wikimedia

One of Charles Stross’ series novels known as the Nightmare Stacks which is mainly set in and around Leeds, has borrowed from the museum’s surrounding environment. The novel’s title is also an allusion to the museum’s holdings.

9. A youtube series is filmed on royal armouries’ grounds

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

The Gamespot YouTube series “Firearms Expert Reacts” is filmed on the museum grounds and features the Royal Armoury’s Keeper of Firearms and Artillery, Jonathan Ferguson, analyzing the design and use of firearms in popular video games.

10. The museum had to make cuts following their reduction in funding

Author; Chris Morgan- Wikimedia

In March 2011, a number of the museum’s staff had to lose their job following a 15% reduction in the Royal Armouries’ funding.

This includes seventeen members of staff including all of the museum’s expert horse riders, professional actors and stable staff.