Craft Court, Tiltyard and Menagerie Court
The Royal Armouries Museum is more than just a collection in a building.
Falconer with a Saker falcon
Our objects were largely made for use out of doors, and therefore external demonstration areas have been provided to enable the collection to be properly put in context, explained and shown in action.
The Craft Court
Next to the main building is the Craft Court where the visitors can see a selection of craftspeople working at their trades. These include: our resident gunmakers, who make and repair modern and antique guns, and provide many of the replicas our interpreters use in the museum; and a leather worker, making such things as footwear, scabbards and accessories used by soldiers and sportsmen through the ages, and the buff coats that were worn by so many soldiers for defence during the mid 17th century.
There is also an armourer's workshop where the armours used in the museum's demonstrations are repaired and refurbished and where, from time to time, our own or visiting craftsmen show how metal is worked hot from a charcoal forge. All the craftspeople in the Craft Court have been carefully selected and are among the very best in the country. They work largely with modern tools, wearing modern dress, but using traditional techniques. You can watch them at work, but it is important to realise that most of them are here working for their living. They are not paid by the museum, but make their money by working at their craft.
Running alongside the River Aire for 150 metres, with seating on the landward side, is the Tiltyard. Here, weather permitting, we put on exhibitions of military and sporting skill at arms, including jousting.
We also show the development of arms and armour through historical pageants, and demonstrate how animals - horses, dogs and hawks - have worked with man on the battlefield and in the hunting field.
Our intention in the Tiltyard is to give you an impression of how our collections were used in ways that would be impossible inside the museum.
The performers you see mainly use replica weapons and armour which the museum is constantly acquiring. By trying to recreate the past we find out much more about it.
The Menagerie Court
Between the Tiltyard and the Craft Court is the Menagerie Court where the birds horses that you see in the Tiltyard shows are housed. But here you can see them close at hand and meet and talk to their trainers and riders.
The Menagerie Court is named after the famous royal menagerie or zoo, which was housed in the Tower of London from the beginning of the 13th century until 1835.
The horses are our own, most specially selected to represent as accurately as we can the type of medieval war horse. You may be surprised at their size, but generally the medieval war horse was not particularly tall by present day standards. But they were like ours, strong, short backed and with thick, powerful necks.
They have all been thoroughly trained to ensure that they are comfortable with swords and spears clashing next to their eyes and with the loud reports of firearms shot from just behind their heads.
The hawks and falcons you see belong to the falconer who works for us on contract. All our animals are well cared for and properly trained.
However they are animals and can be dangerous. Please take care of yourselves.