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Royal Armouries needs your help to bring a remarkable piece of Tudor history to life

Wednesday, 24 April 2019
The helmet of Thomas West, Royal Armouries collections

The helmet of Thomas West, Royal Armouries collections

The Royal Armouries in Leeds is looking for the public’s support to bring a unique piece of Tudor history to life.

The museum is aiming to recreate a helmet associated with a prominent noble in the Tudor court, as part of its plans to celebrate in 2020 the 500th anniversary of one of history’s greatest tournaments, The Field of Cloth of Gold. The Field of Cloth of Gold tournament of 1520 was an extravagant Tudor sporting event/political summit like nothing seen before or since. One of the largest and most expensive events of the sixteenth century, it witnessed in the meeting of two of the most powerful men in the world, King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France, and has been immortalised throughout history.

The Royal Armouries holds one of the most compelling collections of arms and armour from the Tudor period anywhere in the world, including rare objects from the period and from The Field of Cloth of Gold, such as the imposing foot combat armours of King Henry VIII himself. To celebrate this important anniversary, the museum will stage a special programme of events next year, including a grand international jousting tournament in May 2020 and an exhibition of remarkable objects relating to the tournament.

In time for the 2020 tournament the museum aims to recreate one of the most unique objects in its Tudor collection, a helmet associated with Thomas West, a prominent military commander and Knight of the Garter. The completed helmet will be worn by a brave knight during the museum’s celebratory tournament.

The helmet in question is a rare Anglo-Flemish great bascinet created for the ‘Joust Royal’ or Joust of Peace. The Royal Armouries experts believe this is the only helmet of its kind in the world and what makes it particularly striking is its highly unusual triple-brow reinforce; clearly made by an exceptionally skilled armourer.

Following the 2020 tournament, the helmet will become part of the Royal Armouries handling and live interpretation collection, allowing members of the public to get hands-on with a unique piece of craftsmanship. This includes special sessions with pupils and young people from around the UK as part of the museum’s formal learning programmes, as well as live combat demonstrations and talks in its daily gallery programme.

To do this, the museum is seeking public support to raise the £1,750 required to create this unique helmet; this includes the costs of materials and the skilled work of an expert armourer.

Commenting on the project, Keith Dowen, Assistant Curator of European Armour said: “The Field of Cloth of Gold was arguably the most famous and extravagant event of its kind. The Royal Armouries collection includes some of the most significant arms and armour from the Tudor court, including the armours of a young and athletic King Henry VIII tailor made for The Field of Cloth of Gold. The helmet we are recreating is an exceptional piece of Tudor craftsmanship and we are really excited for our expert armourer to be bringing it to life for use at our special celebratory event to mark the 500th anniversary of the tournament.”

Andy Deane, Live Interpreter and competitor in next year’s tournament added: “The Royal Armouries has always prided itself on bringing history to life through our daily live interpretation programme and special events. This fundraising project is incredibly important as it allows us to help the public get even closer to the remarkable history in our collection. When finished, the recreated helmet will be worn by one of the lucky competitors at next year’s tournament, and after this used as part of our daily programme, allowing visitors to see it in action, and maybe even try it on themselves!”

Find out more about the project and how to get involved online. 


Royal Armouries needs to raise funds for this and for other charitable purposes. Your donation will be processed and administered by the National Funding Scheme, operating as DONATE. Texts will be charged at your standard network rate. Visit the website for Terms & Conditions.

To donate £5, text PVDR005 to 70970

To donate £10, text PVDR005 to 70191

About the Royal Armouries

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