A world-class weaponry and armour collection, from rare swords to an umbrella gun, is on display at this excellent, free family-friendly museum
The HQ of the UK’s oldest museum collection (split with the Tower of London and Fort Nelson in Fareham) is a purpose-built citadel of gleaming steel and polished glass. Opened in 1996 and overlooking Leeds Dock, the Royal Armouries has centuries of weapons and armour from around the world spread over five floors. There are themed galleries, including Oriental (with the only surviving example of elephant armour) and Tournament (showcasing Henry VIII’s curly-horned helmet), and the impressive Hall of Steel containing thousands of spears and breastplates ranged in patterns up its walls. Several displays managed to overcome my teenage son’s world-weary indifference, such as Empress Elizabeth of Russia’s intricate rifles, an assassin’s tiny crossbow and a sneaky umbrella gun.