Firearms in the Tower Of London

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The Tower of London is a cool place to learn about the history of England. In the center there is the White Tower. It houses the Royal Armouries collection as well as gifts given to the Crown. As one of the Yeomen Warders (the Beefeater guards) had said: “I say gifted, but usually at the end of a blade or gun”

Along side historic armour, there is a nice collection of early and modern firearms in the exhibit. Here are some that caught my eye.

 

This is the Holy Water Sprinkler. This combination mace and gun was recorded among Henry VIII’s possessions in 1547.There are three barrels along the outside of the the spike. The touch holes are at the base of the head. In the 17th century it was nicknamed “King Henry ye 8ths Walking Staff”. And in the 18th century the story was embellished that Henry carried this while patrolling London at night and testing the city’s guards.

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Henry VIII took a keen interest in firearm development. Examples of gun shields were excavated from the sunken Mary Rose, possibly indicating that Henry armed his warships with these. The guns were breech-loaders using a pre-loaded iron cartridge and fired with a match cord.

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Mace and wheel lock pistol.

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The armoury has a few wheel lock pistols. This one is double barreled and suspected to be made by Peter Danner.

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Gorgeous intricate detail.

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This display is sponsored by Swarovski.

The shotgun is called the “Raven Gun”. It was ordered by the Trustees of the Armouries from gunmaker David McKay Brown. Famous jeweler, silversmith, and engraver Malcolm Appleby was commissioned to decorate the gun. The engravings feature Ravens, the traditional guardians of the Tower.

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This jeweled revolver is a customized .357 Magnum with red gold, red enamel and diamond decoration. It was ordered by a client from a North London jeweler. It was never claimed and was handed to the Metropolitan Police under the 1997 buy-in program. It was transferred to the Royal Armouries in October 2006.

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“Tiffany Revolver”. Smith and Wesson donated this revolver back in 1989 and the Trustees of the Armouries commissioned Tiffany and Co. decorate it. The leaves represent the 5 different woods used in gun-making.

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This jeweled Sig Sauer was commissioned by an individual with blue enamel panels, white gold, and 1,517 diamonds!!! Just like the red gold revolver, this gun was bought by the Metropolitan Police back in 1997. Important or unusual firearms, purchased in that 1997 scheme, were offered to suitable museums. The rest were destroyed.

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Gold plated Sterling MK4

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German Borchardt Model 1893.

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This Hi-power Browning clone was made by FMAP-DGFM in the 1970s. This particular gun was a presentation gift and was notoriously used in a murder in London several years later.

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This dragon display is a nod to the past. As a show of British military strength, they would make displays from masses of weapons.

Royal Armouries Head of Creative Programmes, Karen Whitting dreamed up the idea for the mighty beast, inspired by the small figures of a dragon and a hydra in the scale model of the Grand Storehouse. Working with the creative team at Haley Sharpe Design a concept drawing was produced which York-based Paragon Creative have brought wonderfully to life.

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The dragon consists of over 2,672 items including:

  • 8 breastplates
  • 6 muskets
  • 22 antique pistols
  • 40 shields and bucklers
  • 4 swords
  • 4 pairs of pauldrons
  • 4 pairs of gauntlets
  • 4 bronze mortars
  • 8 kettle helmets
  • 4 Enfield rifles
  • 2 bronze canons
  • 20 bayonets
  • 15 pollaxes
  • 10 mail vests
  • 4 horse shaffrons
  • 26 telescopes
  • 2,000 gold and silver coins
  • 30m of chain
  • 400 ‘rubies’
  • 1 replica Henry VIII necklace
  • 50 replica trial plates
  • 1 set of keys

 

Here are some stubby cannons.

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A display of flintlocks.

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The Tower of London is a very interesting place and their exhibit is amazing.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Looks like somebody stole Liberace’s pistol collection.

    • MR

      It would seem some Londoners don’t quite get the point of trolling the gun buy-back programs. You’re supposed to have LESS invested in the “gun” than they’re giving you for it.

      • marathag

        or ‘Boating accident’

      • Cynic

        No but the government did have to pay FULL appraised value for that monstrosity

    • J S

      That’s because the collection is just FABULOUS!

  • Colin

    Stubby cannons = Mortars .Nice to see my hometown. Liberace’s “”PISTOL”” Collection takes one to no one !!!

  • john huscio

    That .357 reminds me of something a pirate captain like blackbeard or henry Morgan wouldve had stuck in their sash……”are ya feelin lucky scurvy seadog? Well are ye!?”

  • Vitsaus

    Didn’t know Chabot was making Sterlings and Hi-Powers.

  • Thanks for the heads up on all the London hotspots! I’ll be there in a month.

  • Wetcoaster

    At least they have the sense to assess and preserve firearms of note turned in at gun buy backs. Unlike on this side of the Atlantic

    • bob

      It wasn’t a voluntary buyback. The government outlawed handguns and required the citizenry to turn them in for “fair compensation”.

      • Wetcoaster

        And in the same situation, our governments would still be melting them all down like an old FA WW2 bringback regardless of whether some widow turned it in, it was confiscated from the owner without a FA license, or it was seized during a drug bust.

  • William Johnson

    If you are in London be sure to also visit the Imperial War Museum.

    • Micki

      I went back there last month and IWM London is a pale shadow of its former self, unfortunately. Seems to be curated by people with absolutely no interest in warfare whatsoever, beyond constantly reminding you how horrible it all is. Facile, showy, pretentious and abysmally laid-out, it’s a prime example of how not to present a museum.

      There’s no labels on any of the exhibits, all the information being cycled on irritating “interactive” screens, (which everyone crowds around so you can’t see what anything is). Most of the best exhibits seem to have been replaced by massive screens showing war-footage that you could just as well see on YouTube at home. (And again, everyone crowds around these screens, causing bottlenecks.) I could go on and on… The only upside is that it’s free to get in!

  • Paladin

    Interesting fact for history and linguistics buffs, at no point in history was the word “the” pronounced with a Y sound. The misconception originates from the use of the letter Þ (thorn) which has since been replaced with th. In the lower case Þ looks a lot like the letter y.

  • Mister Thomas

    That poor, poor SIG. Why would they do that. Even more sad that the others were destroyed. Oh well, at least the valuable parts that were salvaged (such as diamonds) lived on.

    • Vitsaus

      Knowing SIG, thats probably factory.

  • ItalianAmerican

    Personally I’m in love with their “Tower” Brown Besses, which are THE Brown Besses.

  • marathag

    Here are some stubby cannons.

    Coehorn Mortar is the term you’re looking for

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    Gold Sterling SMG got a Royal Saudi Family crest on the grip?

  • Leigh Rich

    Not much