Royal Armouries

William Combe and the Microcosm of London

Images

watercolour of a line of armoured figures on horseback

Horse Armoury, Tower of London by Rowlandson and Pugin, 1809

  • watercolour of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    Horse Armoury, Tower of London by Rowlandson and Pugin, 1809

William Combe and the Microcosm of London

Description

William Combe (1741-1823) was a writer, editor, propagandist and poet who underwent imprisonment for debt on occasions. He was a prolific pamphleteer on behalf of the Pitt government and he also wrote satires and from about 1803 wrote for The Times.

From 1809 Combe worked extensively for the publisher Rudolph Ackermann to supply the text which accompanied the designs of Thomas Rowlandson. This included the words that accompanied the best-known early and accurate representation of the Horse Armoury, which was produced by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin. Combe’s description appeared in the third volume of The Microcosm of London, a part work which was so successful that it re-appeared in further editions:

‘The horse-armoury contains, among other appropriate articles of curiosity, the effigies of the kings of England clad in armour and on horseback, inclusively from William the conqueror to his late Majesty George II. They are large as life and some of them appear in the suits which those sovereigns actually wore. This room presents a very striking spectacle; and the plate which accompanies this page, displays, we presume, a very picturesque, as well as correct representation of it’.

The Ackerman, Rowlandson and Combe partnership also had great success with the three tours of Doctor Syntax, The English dance of Death, The Dance of Life and The Adventures of Johnny Quae Genus, for which Combe provided verse. On a more serious level he also supplied the text for histories, including those of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Related Objects

William the Conqueror in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

George II in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Greenwich Armour for Field and Tournament Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1590 | Object number: II.40

Themes Menu

Line of Kings