Tower of London - Office of the Armoury

Object Title

Tower of London - Office of the Armoury

Tower of London - Office of the Armoury





Scope and Content

Papers relating to the Office of the Armoury, 1. 12 x copies of documents concerning the Office of the Armoury but held at the British Library, Hatfield House, the Principal Probate Registry, Somerset House and the National Archives, 2. 2 x manuscripts of inventories of arms and armour, 3. 1 x letter from Sir Henry Lee, 4. 1 x manuscript list of wages paid


12 copies of documents held at other institutions, 4 loose manuscripts and indeterminate numbers of other loose manuscripts

Access Conditions

Open access

Administrative / Biographical History

The Royal Armouries is one of the ancient institutions of the Tower of London. Its origins may be traced back to the working armoury of the medieval kings of England operating within the castle. In the early 15th century the Office of Armoury emerged as an offshoot of the Privy Wardrobe of the Tower. At this point it seems that the 'Keeper of the King's armour at the Tower of London', first mentioned in 1423, together with the 'Master of the Ordnance', first recorded in 1414, had replaced the Keeper of the Wardrobe. The offices of Armoury and Ordnance were responsible for procuring and issuing a wide variety of military equipment. The Armoury concentrated on armour and edged weapons; the Ordnance, cannon, handguns and the more traditional bow and arrow. Developments in the art of war resulted in the Ordnance becoming the more important of the two organisations and in 1670, the equipment and functions of the Office of Armoury passed to the Ordnance.