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Philip Lankester

Philip Lankester is Curator Emeritus of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries.


After a degree in Estate Management, after which I qualified and briefly worked as a Chartered Surveyor, I was amazingly fortunate to be able to return to academia to study for an MA in European Art History at the Courtauld Institute, specializing in the Middle Ages. Taking a realistic look at the job market, I decided to study for a diploma in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at Manchester University rather than pursue further full time research, and from there I moved to my first museum job with Glasgow Museums, where I looked after the military collections. After three years I made another change, moving to what was then the Council for the Care of Churches (now the Church Buildings Council) to administer advice on and grants for the conservation of church furnishings. These included funerary monuments: for some years I had been developing an interest in monumental effigies.

Tiring of too much administration and too little contact with actual historic buildings and objects, I moved again in 1986 to work in the Edged Weapons Department at the Royal Armouries where I remained until I took early retirement in 2008, having moved with the collection from the Tower of London to Leeds in 1995.

I now live in York and work part time as a freelance consultant on European arms, armour and related subjects. I was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2000 and am currently an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University of York. Apart from medieval tomb sculpture, my recent research interests have concentrated on British military and civilian swords of the 18th and 19th centuries.


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