The Horse Armoury

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This was originally the Council Chamber. The armoured figures, horse and foot, in the centre show the development of armour from the late 15th century to the reign of Charles I.

The large mounted figure, third in the line, shows a knight with lance in rest for tilting. In these contests the opponents passed left arm to left arm and the lance was always pointed to the adversary's left side. For this reason the armour on the left was always made smooth and free from holes and projections so that the lance might slip harmlessly off. It was consequently very important that armour, besides being of strong material, should present as much as possible a "glancing surface" to the weapon, whether sword, mace, or lance.

On the wall to the right of this figure is a case containing extra pieces, used for tilting, brigandines, or coats of defence and jacks, also a large German tilting saddle. Between the mounted figures is a case containing richly ornamented helmets of the 16th century.

At the end of the room is a mounted figure showing the gilt armour of Charles I surrounded by figures of pikemen and cuirassiers of the period. The face of the King and the horse were carved by Grinling Gibbons, the famous sculptor. There are one brass gun cast by John Brown in the presence of Charles I on 5th October, 1638, and nine small cannon made for Charles II when a boy.

On the wall at the end are infantry pikes about 16 feet long used in the Civil War of 1642-1651. The large case on the left shows the armour of Prince Henry and of Charles I and Charles II when Princes.

Near to this is a case containing the armour of James II, made at a period when armour was gradually falling into disuse.

It is a common misconception that armour was given up on the introduction of firearms, but this is by no means the case. Firearms were seriously used in war from the beginning of the 16th century and armour was fortified against them. It was only when the power of these weapons was increased and the armour was fortified against bullets that the actual weight of metal carried was so great that in time it was found to be more of a hindrance than a protection.

The case at the further end contains horse-furniture, spurs and stirrups.

The adjoining room is known as THE TUDOR ROOM.

Next page: Tudor Room

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