The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 33 The Tower and Tower Hill

Council Floor

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We ascend by the staircase at the north-west corner of the Weapon Room to the third or COUNCIL FLOOR. In the Tudor Room, then the Council Chamber, took place the famous scene between Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Lord Hastings (comp. Shakespeare's 'Richard III.,' Act iii. Scirca 4), and here Richard II. Abdicated. The Duke of Orleans, King John of France, and King David of Scotland were probably accommodated in this part of the Tower. The Armouries, the principal departments of which are on this floor, originated in the collection of arms and armour formed by Henry VIII. at Greenwich. During the Civil War the arms were issued for use in the field, and though they were collected again at the Restoration, a very large number of them were lost. Though the Tower armoury is inferior to the great Continental collections, the series of armourclad figures afford a good idea of the development of English armour from the 15th century to the time of James II. The earliest type of armour consisted of quilted garments strengthened with scales of leather or iron. Then came chain mail, introduced from the East in the 13th century. Plate armour, first used for the protection of limbs only, gradually developed into complete suits in the reign of Henry V. It should be remembered that the armour used in the tilting-yard was much heavier and more complete than on the field of battle. It was its interference with the mobility of troops rather than the invention of gunpowder that led to the gradual disuse of armour in warfare. The Great War saw an interesting revival of armour in the use of steel helmets visors, and breastplates as a protection against shrapnel and rifle-bullets. The first room that we enter on the Council Floor is known as the Horse Armouries, and contains a fine Series of armoured figures showing the development of armour from the 16th century to the reign of Charles I. On the north wall, painted and gilded 'pavises' or wooden shields; a fine series of gauntlets; and ancient iron swords and daggers. On the east wall, richly decorated suits, including one worn by George, Earl of Cumberland (died 1605; Case 12); suits worn by Prince Henry, Charles I., and Charles II. when boys (Case 19); light suit made for James II. at a time when armour was falling into disuse (Case 20). At the end, a mounted figure wearing the gilt armour of Charles I., surrounded by nine small cannon made for Charles II. when a boy. On the west wall, examples of chain mail. In the centre of the room is a case containing elaborate 16th century helmets. The adjoining room is the Tudor Room. In the centre is an equestrian figure wearing Armour known as the 'Burgundian Bard,' engraved with the Burgundian cross, the pomegranate of Aragon, and the badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece. In front, a helmet with ram's horns presented to Henry VIII. by the Emperor Maximilian, and pistol-shields. The next equestrian figure wears a Suit made by Conrad Seusenhofer of Augsburg and likewise a present from Maximilian; on the rider's armour are engraved the badges of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Aragon, on the horse-armour scenes from the lives of SS. George and Barbara. The wall-cases on the left contain armour of the 16th century (1); helmets of the 15-16th century, incl. a painted salade (2); morions of the 16th century (3); pieces of armour forming part of the suit made for Henry VIII. (4). On a glass-case (9) containing two interesting arquebuses of Henry VIII. is a spiked club known as 'King Henry VIII.'s walking-staff.' At the end of the room is a mounted figure wearing armour made for Henry VIII. which weighs 81 lb., while the weight of the horse-armour is 70 lb. By the last pier on the right is a gigantic suit (16th century) for a man about 7 feet tall. On the end-wall, a series of chanfrons (early 16th century).