Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Royal Armouries, Leeds

Where do take a five year old boy out to for his birthday when it's in November and the rain has shown no signs of stopping? Since Master JibberJabber's birthday party the previous day was at a soft play centre our options were looking pretty slim. I decided it might be fun to start off with a trip on the train and make our way up to Leeds to visit the Royal Armouries.

I will be the first to admit that anything to do with arms and armour holds absolutely no interest for me but when a museum has free entry I'm willing to give it a go. Some things to note before you get to the Royal Armouries. As I said we travelled to Leeds by train and the museum is about a mile from the station. On Sundays (the day we went) there is no bus service between the train station and the Royal Armouries so we walked which took about 20 minutes. At the best of times I have no sense of direction so as we walked out of Leeds train station and found that none of the sign posts had the Royal Armouries showing on them I was more than a bit disorientated. Thankfully Google Maps on my phone came to my rescue and after a while the sign posts did finally start showing us the way. When we got to the Royal Armouries and I mentioned the lack of buses and signage I was told there is a free water taxi which runs from the back of the station to the canal dock where the Royal Armouries is located. I can't say I noticed any signs for this service either but it might be worth checking out.

The first thing Master JibberJabber wanted to do was head into the shop by the entrance. He was immediately taken by the swords but since I feel such items are best left in glass cabinets I wasn't going to acquiesce to his request. However since it was his birthday I did point out a helmet which was rather reasonably priced at just £3. He was delighted and in an instant all dressed for exploring the museum.

Although the museum is free obviously it does rely on donations. However, unlike other free museums there are no ticket desks that you need to walk through, no guilt trip and no upsell of any guide books. I much prefer this as I think this gives the scope to visit the museum first and decide then how much money to donate or spend in the shop and café.

The first feature is the Hall of Steel which is a multi level tower filled with armour and military equipment. It's extremely impressive and if you don't want to look up there's a multi faceted mirror at the bottom reflecting the tower. There are steps around the tower so you can make your way up to the first floor.
The museum is designed with a central atrium with galleries running either side. It is a bit of maze and the exits to go up and down floors aren't very clear. In total there are five themed galleries – War, Tournament, Oriental, Self-Defence, Hunting and Peace. To my untrained eye there did seem to be a lot of cabinets showing rows and rows of swords and guns but I guess I was simply the wrong audience to appreciate them. Master JibbeJabber though did enjoy himself going from display to display and taking in the exhibits. In the Oriental gallery we watched a feature on modern samurai warriors which I found very interesting and Master JibberJabber thought was about how Power Rangers are trained.
Looking round the museum proved to be hungry work and after a couple of galleries we were in need of subsistence. As you enter the museum on the ground floor there's Nelson Bistro which we opted for. There's a children's cold lunch box deal, panini with or with chips, sandwiches and soup on the menu. I can't say that either of the assistants on the day we visited had ever been to charm school but the food was reasonable enough in both quality and price. On the second floor was a smaller coffee shop if you didn't fancy going up and down the stairs (there are lifts as well). One thing I did like was that in both cafés there was a sign saying there is a picnic area on the fourth floor for visitors to eat their own food.

If you're fans of Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit the Swords of Middle Earth have their own display case. If movie memorabilia is your thing then you will also find weapons used in some of the James Bond films in this gallery as well.

The last area we visited was Jester's Yard which is a free play area. It's a big space with things to do for children of varying ages. There's two castles plus a velvet covered bed with a whole selection of dressing up costumes. You can also set up your own market stall or do some craft activities. A brilliant way to finish off the day.    
Tried and Tested


  1. Very nice!
    Hope you'll drop by http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/11/sunset-on-bay.html to link up and see some other great photos.

  2. Sounds a good cheap day out. #Triedtested


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