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.
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.
Mace and wheel lock pistol.
The armoury has a few wheel lock pistols. This one is double barreled and suspected to be made by Peter Danner.
Gorgeous intricate detail.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Gold plated Sterling MK4
German Borchardt Model 1893.
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.
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.
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.
A display of flintlocks.
The Tower of London is a very interesting place and their exhibit is amazing.