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Action hero and secret agent

30th November – 10:00 am – 1st December – 5:00 pm

On Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December the Royal Armouries invites visitors of all ages to Action Heroes a packed weekend of thrilling talks, tours and activities, including high-kicking martial arts demonstrations and interactive combat performances teaching you the skills and techniques used in your favourite movies. The aim is to bring all the action of the big screen to the museum as part of the Royal Armouries ‘Make: Believe’ season of events.

From handling the weapons from your favourite films, TV shows and video games, discovering more about the secrets of a movie fight scene with our stage-combat experts, to martial arts demonstrations and have-a-go sessions and ‘explosive’ live performances, there is something for everyone, and you don’t need to be a movie buff to get involved.

The event supports the museum’s new display ‘Make: Believe’, a capsule collection showcasing the museum’s extensive collection of arms, armour and ephemera from cult and classic movies, television shows, stage and more. With remarkable items including original ‘Star Wars’ blaster, helmets from ‘Monty Python’, Lancelot’s armour from the movie ‘Excalibur’ and even a vampire killing kit, it’s proving to be a must see for any visitor.

Action Heroes is part of a show stopping series of events on the theme of popular culture, including; Space Heroes (28 & 29 December), Fantasy Heroes (25 & 26 January) and Superheroes (15 – 23 February). Movie nights in the museum’s own cinema with behind the scenes insights from special guest speakers are also proving popular.

The programme aims to build on growing visitor numbers to the Royal Armouries Leeds site this year, with the national museum of arms and armour welcoming 120,000 visitors in the first six months of the year, 16% up on previous year and on course to exceed 240,000 for the first time since 2010-11.

Commenting on the event Paul Barrett, Head of Marketing and Communications said:

“We are really excited to present our Action Heroes weekend as part of Make: Believe season. Our new display brings some iconic items of arms and armour from the movies to our visitors, and our exciting live programme of events will bring to life all the magic behind the action on the silver screen. The weekend promises great days out and a real spectacle for all ages to enjoy.”

So whether you’re a grizzled PI, a dilettante adventurer or just a regular Joe in a heap of trouble who’s just been landed with saving the world, you’re going to need to know how to take a punch, how to tackle henchmen and heavies and how to hang on to a hat while duking it out on a speeding tank. Luckily Action Heroes are in session at the Royal Armouries.

The event is free to attend, find out more on the Royal Armouries website.


For event updates follow:

Notes to editors

Further enquiries to:

Paul Barrett
Head of Marketing & Communications
Telephone: 0113 220 1972

Main in suit stood at entrance of Royal Armouries Museum

John Procter appointed new Chair of Royal Armouries. Photo credit: Royal Armouries

Royal Armouries is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Chair, John Procter.

John will be responsible for leading the organisation until 2023, with the potential for a further four years, as it continues to develop its work across its sites in Leeds, Hampshire and London.

In his role John will take the Museum forward through this critical period in its history, when his passion for cultural heritage, commercial acumen and successful track record in public service will be invaluable.

Edward Impey, Director-General of the Royal Armouries said:

“I am delighted to welcome John at this very exciting time for the Royal Armouries.

John is an experienced and highly accomplished professional with a 30-year record of successful business leadership and public service. In addition to his successful business career, John brings a wealth of experience of working with cultural organisations to the role. He is a director of Northern Ballet, and has also served with distinction as Chair of Leeds Grand Theatre, and as a director of the Regional Arts council for England.

Having substantially increased our commercial operations, we are now in the process of devising a masterplan to transform the Royal Armouries brand and its offer at the main museum site in Leeds.

With plans for growth at our Fort Nelson and Tower of London sites, as well as transforming our digital presence, John will play a central in taking the Royal Armouries forward and putting it on a long-term sustainable footing.

Throughout his varied career John has developed an unrivalled network of valuable contacts in the UK, across Europe and internationally, which, alongside his undoubted leadership qualities and experience, will greatly benefit the Royal Armouries.”

Said John Procter on his appointment:

“I am really looking forward to getting started and supporting the Director-General and the whole Royal Armouries team.

I have made an energetic commitment to the Royal Armouries, and will be an active and positive advocate for the organisation, representing it to government and other stakeholders such as funders and the education, regional and tourism communities, including our local partners in Leeds and the surrounding areas.

The Royal Armouries’ collection of arms and armour is truly world class in scope and reach. My job is to support our equally exceptional team, who collectively inspire people to discover and understand how many of the most compelling narratives of human endeavour and experience have been, and continue to be, shaped by arms and armour.”


For event updates follow:

Notes to editors

Further enquiries to:

Paul Barrett
Head of Marketing & Communications
Telephone: 0113 220 1972

Natalia Lee holding "heartsbane" from Game of ThronesOn the evening of 31 October the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is delighted to welcome Natalia Lee, armourer on ‘Game of Thrones’ and all round action woman.

Coinciding with the nationwide Museums at Night festival, Natalia, who is travelling from Australia, will be giving a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the role of the Film Armourer. As well as discussing her life as an armourer for action blockbusters, she will also be talking about her experiences with stunt work, acting, and designing epic Game of Thrones weaponry.

For those wanting a slice of the action, there will also be action-packed combat demonstrations of stunt work, including blood, guts and all.

Natalia is widely known as the ‘Woman of Weapons’ and has worked on some of the most iconic pieces of arms and armour from the ‘Game of Thrones’ universe, including researching and designing ‘Heartsbane’ the famous sword of Samwell Tarly which played a major role in the final season of the show.

Over the years the Royal Armouries’ national collection of arms and armour has provided inspiration for film armourers the world over. In 2014 the museum was granted funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to collect arms and armour from popular culture and since then  has acquired some show-stopping objects, including blasters from the ‘Star Wars’ movie franchise, an ‘Aliens’ pulse rifle, Lancelot’s hero armour from ‘Excalibur’ and Monty Python helmets, amongst others.

On the 25 October the museum is set to launch a new exhibition titled ‘Make: Believe’ showcasing these and many more remarkable objects collected as part of the project. The exhibition will be accompanied by an exciting series of events on the theme of arms and armour in popular culture. The events will kick-off during October half term (26 October – 3 November) with Movie Monsters, followed by events exploring Action Heroes (30 November & 1 December), Space Heroes (28 & 29 December), Fantasy heroes (25 & 26 January) and Superheroes (15 – 23 February).

Natalia Lee said:

“I am delighted to be invited to the Royal Armouries to take part in this special event. I’m always inspired by my visits to museums, and artefacts are an important source of inspiration. It’s fascinating to see how influences of historical cultures are reflected back into popular culture, so the Royal Armouries ‘Make: Believe’ exhibition and event programme is wonderful to see.

“I’m really looking forward to sharing a behind the scenes look at a Film Armourer’s role.  There’s a lot of misconceptions and confusion over film armoury and our role is hugely varied. From pre-production, to filming, weapons design to stunt work, no two days are the same, and it is a fascinating world.

“I’m also really keen to see more women come into the industry, and there’s much to do, from mentoring programmes, to female apprentices and a quota for women film crew.  I’ve come to realise the big responsibility I have with my high-profile work to normalise what I do and help rewrite the existing narrative.

“When there’s a girl who works with a two-tonne catapult and nobody raises an eyebrow, that’s when we’ll be on a level playing field – when it becomes the norm.”

Commenting on the event, Paul Barrett, Head of Marketing and Communications, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming Natalia Lee to the Royal Armouries for this special Museums at Night event. Natalia’s work as an armourer and stuntwoman has helped her build a global reputation and she has some fascinating insights to share from her time on ‘Game of Thrones’ and other blockbuster projects. This is a unique opportunity to explore the role of arms and armour in popular culture and how it influences our perceptions, by looking at the magic behind the movies.”

For tickets to an evening with Natalia Lee this Museums at Night, visit:


For event updates follow:

Notes to editors

Further enquiries to: Paul Barrett, Head of Marketing and Communications. Email:, telephone: 0113 220 1972

About Royal Armouries

Entry to the museum is free but some activities carry a small charge.

2 large ligh knights doing battleSee the clash of mighty warriors at Royal Armouries this ‘Light Knight’

10 & 11 October, from 6 pm

On the 10 and 11 October the Royal Armouries will be taking part in the city-wide Light Night festival with two gigantic illuminated knight installations in its outdoor amphitheatre, a special light display on its square and late opening.

The museum is known for its knights in shining armour, but visitors will have never seen anything like this before. The twelve-foot high illuminated armoured knights will be battling in the dark outside the museum on the Leeds Dock waterfront.

The installation is supported by the museum and the Leeds Waterfront Enhancement Fund. Visitors can charge down to see these mighty warriors from 6 pm to 10.30 pm each evening, with performances lasting ten minutes at 6.30 pm, 7.15 pm, 8 pm, 8.45 pm, 9.30 pm and 10.15 pm.

As well as this the museum square will be playing host to a second light installation, iTernity by Katja Heitmann. iTernity is an audio-visual installation based on the famous ballet solo ‘The Dying Swan’. The audience must work together using a series of screens to capture the performance from the ‘cloud’ where the swan is everywhere at once and can dance forever.

On both evenings the museum will have special late opening hours (6 pm – 10 pm /last admission 9.30 pm). Visitors can come to see a brand new exhibit, a Buddhist manuscript dating to the 19th century on loan from the British Library. This Burmese folding book manuscript contains images of eight festivals in Burma. The opening on display shows a procession at the Buddhist Thadingyut festival, where royal attendants carry elaborate sculptures of animals, boats and temples. The Thadingyut festival commemorates the Buddha’s return to earth from the Tavatimsa heaven, which is believed to have taken place on the full moon night of Thadingyut. The streets are usually decorated with coloured lights to represent the gold, ruby and silver stairways down to earth from heaven.

The display of the manuscript coincides with a third light display on Leeds Dock titled ‘Voyage’. This floating installation by artists Aether and Hemera, commissioned by the British Library, will see hundreds of colour changing oversized origami ‘paper boats’ on the Leeds canal. Alongside ‘Voyage’ the Library also aims to engage with the city’s Buddhist community, with ‘Reflections on the Water’ – a workshop that invites light night visitors to make and float flower lanterns on the canal and learn about the Buddhist festival of Loi Krathong.

Commenting on the event Tristan Langlois, Interim Director of Public Engagement at the Royal Armouries said: “This is the museum’s first Light Night and we are really excited to be participating. The festival has become an integral part of the city’s culture and we hope that our installations prove popular with visitors. The Light Knights in particular will be a real statement for the museum and what we are all about. We can’t wait to see them lit up against the dramatic backdrop of our building and the amazing Leeds Dock.”

The event is free to attend, find out more on the Royal Armouries website.


For event updates follow:

Notes to editors

Further enquiries to:

Paul Barrett
Head of Marketing & Communications
Telephone: 0113 220 1972

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is pleased to announce the appointment of the latest trainee in its innovative Registrars’ Training for the Future Programme.

The programme was launched in 2010 to help fill a gap in formal training for museum registrars. It saw the coming together of experts in collections management from the Royal Armouries, Leeds Museums and Galleries and the University of Leeds School of Fine Arts, History of Art and Cultural Studies.

Its latest trainee, Rebecca Tritschler, studied Fine Art at the University of Leeds and has an interest in ancient craft practices and European Jewish history. Through the programme Rebecca hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the logistics of collections management, rooted in practical skills, as well as experience working with a variety of different kinds of collections; from contemporary art to historical artefacts.

Rebecca commented: “I have heard great things about the programme from previous trainees who have all gone on to do very interesting and different things. It is a fantastic opportunity to get real hands-on learning experience working with collections which is also supported by academic study.”

Alongside its founding partners, the programme is supported by Arts Council England and Crown Fine Art and has many benefits for both the trainees and the partners involved, the trainees go away with a great experience and knowledge of the organisations involved and their collections. They are able to benefit from a unique programme of practical and theoretical learning, and participating in the University of Leeds MA programme also provides a cohort of peers to discuss ideas with and build a wider knowledge of registrars and their work.

The success of the programme is evident, since launching in 2010 all former trainees have continued to work in the museum and cultural sector, including at prestigious organisations such as National Galleries Scotland, the V&A, National Gallery and the Tate.

Museum registrars are often described as the conscience of the museum and hold a huge amount of responsibility, managing not only financial risks but those with the potential to be reputationally damaging. Yet as a Museum Registrar, despite picking up knowledge and experience from many sources, they are not formally trained.

Commenting on the programme, Jen Kaines, Head of Collections Services at the Royal Armouries, said: “Setting this scheme up is probably the best thing I have done in my professional career, and definitely the thing I am most proud of along with the trainees themselves. It is a big commitment to train someone over and above your day job but knowing that you have made a difference to someone and given them the start to what I know will be a brilliant career is fantastic.”

Abigail Harrison Moore, Professor or Art History and Museum Studies in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, added: “By enabling our trainees to become part of the master’s programmes at the University, they not only receive a postgraduate certificate, but also act as advocates for the importance of the role of the registrar amongst the other students on our large, international programmes. We agreed from the start that the trainees should engage with practice and theory, and feel able to open up critical questions about the job of the registrar, and studying in the classroom alongside their work in the museums and galleries has enabled this, and led to changes in practice as a result of their questions.

“Given the unique nature of the programme and the partnership we have created to deliver it, we have been invited to speak internationally about its success, marked strikingly by the fact that all our graduates have gone straight into important roles in the sector. We now look forward to the next phase, building on the programme to offer accredited training for early and mid-career registrars and collections managers.”

David Preston, Crown Fine Art’s General Manager advised that they are looking forward to supporting even more people with their career progression and “We are extremely proud to have offered support to this unique posting – past and present – for the last two years; by sharing our experience of the market, and the skills and techniques we undertake during our day-to-day work.

Apprenticeships are a huge passion for Crown. Over the past two years, 15 apprentices have joined our team through our wider apprenticeship scheme. By doing this, we aim to consistently and continually establish long-term relationships, and help people to gain valuable practical experience and expertise in their specific field of interest. We are always keen to hear from people who would be interested in becoming involved in Crown’s apprenticeship scheme.”


For event updates follow:

Notes to editors

Further enquiries to:

Paul Barrett
Head of Marketing & Communications
Telephone: 0113 220 1972

collage of movie characters

Launches 25 October – New Royal Armouries display and events programme exploring arms and armour in popular culture, Make: Believe.

This October the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is set to launch an exciting new display and supporting events programme exploring the role of arms and armour in popular culture.

‘Make: Believe’ will explore and extend the impact of the national collection of arms and armour by showcasing the museum’s expansive collection of fantastic items made famous by popular culture, including arms and armour from film, television, stage and more.

Key objects in the exhibition, which is supported by National Lottery Heritage funding, include two original Blasters from the ‘Star Wars’ movie franchise, an ‘Aliens’ Pulse Rifle, ‘Lord of the Rings’ swords, Monty Python helmets, and Lancelot’s hero armour from ‘Excalibur’, amongst many others.

The permanent exhibition will launch on the 25 October and will be accompanied by a show stopping series of events on the theme of popular culture. The events will kick-off during October half term (26 October – 3 November) with Movie Monsters, followed by events exploring Action Heroes (30 November & 1 December), Space Heroes (28 & 29 December), Fantasy Heroes (25 & 26 January) and Superheroes (15 – 23 February).

As well as this, the museum will be taking part in the nationwide Museums at Night festival on the 31 October, welcoming ‘Woman of weapons’ Natalia Lee, stunt person and armourer on ‘Game of Thrones’ and a host of blockbuster projects. Visitors are welcomed to a special evening talk from Natalia where she will give a behind-the-scenes look at the role of a film armourer and her work on the biggest TV phenomenon in history. There will also be an action-packed demonstration of a film combat, including blood, guts and all.

Commenting on the exhibition, Laura Bell, Director of Collections, said: “We are delighted to be launching our new ‘Make: Believe’ exhibition and events series following several years of acquiring remarkable objects from popular culture as part of this National Lottery Heritage funded project. For many, knowledge of arms and armour begins in popular culture, and whether we see it in film or television, some of the most iconic scenes on the silver screen have revolved around these objects. We hope the public are as excited as we are to see these fantastic pieces of cinematic, television and stage history on display in Leeds.”

Paul Barrett, Head of Marketing and Communications, added: “Alongside the new exhibition we are excited to launch our ‘Make: Believe’ season of events, exploring some of the most famous tropes from popular culture. The events will bring to life the objects in the exhibition, showcasing the magic of TV and cinema, including stunt work, tricks of the trade and more. It’s also great to be able to welcome Natalia Lee to the museum as part of the Museums at Night festival. Natalia has designed some of the most iconic weapons in ‘Game of Thrones’, as well as being an amazing stunt person; her talk is a must see for all popular culture fans!”

For tickets to an evening with Natalia Lee this Museums at Night, visit: Natalia Lee Woman of Weapons Tickets


For event updates follow:

Notes to editors

Further enquiries to:

Paul Barrett
Head of Marketing & Communications
Telephone: 0113 220 1972

Two viking and saxon warriors in mail armour and helmets face off with spear, sword and shield

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is excited to welcome the next recruit for its Live Interpretation Internship. Richard Thirlwall will be learning all aspects of the daily live events programme but will be focussing on historical combat demonstrations alongside the museum’s renowned team, this will include fighting in full replica armour.

Now in its second year, the internship programme offers drama and stage fighting students the opportunity to consolidate their training under the supervision of the Royal Armouries’ experienced team, and to perform to the public on a daily basis as part of the museum’s busy event programme.

Richard has previously worked at the Royal Armouries in the Visitor Services team and has a background in acting and stage combat. Richard said: “It is a real honour to be chosen for this unique internship. The Royal Armouries live interpretation programme is world leading and the learnings I take from the experienced staff at the museum will help me to reach the next step in my career.”

Mark Jackson, Events and Informal Learning Manager added: “We are delighted to welcome Richard to our live interpretation team here in Leeds. Live demonstrations and performance are hardwired into our flagship museum, with indoor stages and combat areas in our galleries, alongside our purpose-built outdoor jousting arena.

The Royal Armouries is renowned for its live interpretation programme, especially combat demonstrations, with our ‘house style’ of stage fighting pioneered by the late John Waller who mentored a number of our staff still working at the museum today. Richard is definitely going to get put through his paces over the next few months, but we hope this is a really unforgettable experience for him that will really help further his career in the industry.”

Home to the national collection of arms and armour, the Royal Armouries extensive collection comprises approximately 75,000 objects spanning through history and the world. Its flagship museum in Leeds opened in 1996 with an aim to bring its unique collection to life through live interpretation, including talks, tours, dramatic performances, combat demonstrations, and a world-famous international jousting tournament taking place each year in the museum’s purpose-built Tiltyard arena.

For more information about the Royal Armouries, please visit our website.


The Lion of Punjab Ranjit Singh (1780–1839)

On the 28 and 29 September the Royal Armouries will invite visitors to the court of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, famously known as The Lion of Punjab, in the final event in the museum’s ‘Monarchs’ season.

Ranjit Singh ruled between 1792 –1839, establishing a Sikh kingdom whilst defending India against invasion. His reign saw a renaissance of Sikh culture.

This special weekend we will take you back to 1838, the mighty Maharajah has kept the British at bay for three decades, and now they want to march an army across Punjab into Afghanistan. Will the Earl of Auckland, the Governor-General of British India, persuade the Lion of Punjab?
The Maharajah and the Earl of Auckland will be holding court in the museum’s throne room each day, followed by an action-packed programme of shows and tours, including exciting demonstrations of the traditional Sikh martial art Gatka with the opportunity to have-a-go. The programme will also feature international storyteller Roop Singh who will be telling fascinating stories about Ranjit Singh’s rule. Visitors can learn more about turban tying in Sikh culture and have a go for themselves.

For younger visitors there will be early years hands-on storytelling sessions and craft activities throughout the weekend.

The Royal Armouries collection includes a number of remarkable objects from Sikh culture, including swords, daggers, guns and even a Quoit Turban from the late 18th – early 19th century.

Commenting on the event Mark Jackson, Events and Informal Learning Manager said: “We are excited to conclude our Monarchs season by delving into the history of the Sikh empire and its famous ruler Ranjit Singh. The museum’s collection includes a large number of remarkable objects from the Indian sub-continent and Ranjit Singh’s lifetime. It will be a great day out for all ages to enjoy, with early years storytelling and crafts for little ones, and exciting demonstrations and have-a-go sessions for adults, including a chance to see and try out the Sikh martial art of Gatka, which is a real spectacle.”

The event is free to attend, find out more:

five cavaliers in red coasts charging on horseback
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Charles II (1630–1685)

This August Bank Holiday (24 – 26 August) the Royal Armouries in Leeds is welcoming His Majesty King Charles II to the museum for a packed weekend of entertainment, including special horse shows featuring drills, dressage and racing for the King’s pleasure.

Known as the ‘Merry Monarch’, King Charles brought about the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the end of the Commonwealth (1649 – 60). Charles reigned for almost 25 years and was renowned for his lavish lifestyle, enjoying grand parties, mistresses, and sport, particularly horse racing, now nicknamed ‘the sport of kings’ as a result of his interest.

The event will see King Charles early in his reign in 1667. Plague, fire and war have beset his kingdom, and now the not-so-Merry Monarch is reviewing his Armoury. Can William Legge, the Master of the Armoury, convince the King that all will be if war comes? Will visitors be able to cheer up the ruler of the Restoration?

Charles and his famous mistress Nell Gwyn will be in residence throughout the weekend and visitors are invited to an audience with the king them in the museum’s temporary throne room.

Throughout the weekend there will be pike and musket demonstrations, sword duelling, tours of the weapons and armour of the period, talks and dramatic performances. For younger visitors there will also be royal craft activities and early years storytelling.

At midday and 3 pm each day visitors can join King Charles for a thrilling showcase of ‘the sport of kings’. The museums outdoor arena will play host to special horse shows with a thrilling thirty minutes of sport, spectacle and speed as Charles’ flamboyant Life Guard drill, dress and race for the King’s pleasure. Who will visitors put their bets on, will they set their cap at a stately trooper, or simply sit spellbound by the display of Spanish dressage? And will his Majesty be pleased?

The museum’s outdoor square will also be transformed with a maze fit for a monarch where visitors can get lost in history. Whilst the Royal Armouries newly re-furbished restaurant, The Master’s, will be serving a range of delicious meals, snacks and hot drinks with views onto Leeds Dock.

The Royal Armouries collections include a number of remarkable objects from the 17th century and Stuart period, including the Littlecote Collection, the single largest collection of British Civil Wars arms and armour in the country.

Commenting on the event Mark Jackson, Events and Informal Learning Manager said: “We are really excited to be bringing the next instalment of our Monarchs season of events to the museum this August Bank Holiday. The ‘Merry Monarch’ will certainly be bringing a lot of fun, with action-packed horse shows that are quite different to our usual outdoor shows, showcasing a range of riding skills including dressage and horse racing. The event will be great entertainment for all of the family.”

The event is free to attend, however the horse shows are ticketed. For further information on the August Bank Holiday events visit the Royal Armouries website.