Help us Make History - Thursday, 3 January 2013

Your help is wanted to revitalise the world’s longest-running visitor attraction – the Tower of London’s historic Line of Kings.

Royal Armouries and Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) are joining forces to re-present the iconic row of royal armours and wooden horses in a bold and visionary way, at the White Tower, from next Summer.

Our research teams are hunting for visitor comments – plus postcards, diary entries, feedback forms and letters, dating back to the 17th century.

Royal Armouries’ Keeper of Tower Armouries Bridget Clifford said, “We know there are many tourist attractions which date to antiquity but they were not created to pull in the crowds. The Line of Kings was displayed specifically to make a powerful statement about monarchy – initially to invited guests and later to the wider paying public.

“Originally, the display showed the figures of the Kings of England mounted on magnificent, full-sized carved wooden horses and wearing armours that claimed to have been their personal property. Each figure included a carved wooden head in the likeness of the sovereign – offering a unique history lesson.

“We’d now like the public’s assistance to help us discover visitors’ voices from the past – illustrating the longevity and enduring public appeal of this famous attraction. Specifically we are interested in any diary entries, letters, postcards or pictures of the displays, referencing visits to either the Line of Kings or the Horse Armoury at the Tower of London.”

Royal Armouries and HRP have already created four new galleries in the White Tower – Fit for A King; Treasures of the Royal Armouries; Power House; and the latest Storehouse displays in the basement. Attention now turns to the Line of Kings – arguably the most exciting challenge in the Tower.

The display has a long and fascinating history, possibly stretching back to Tudor origins at Greenwich Palace. Currently stripped of their figures, the carved horses provide only a hint of the display’s former impact, both as a ‘must see’ visitor attraction and a statement about monarchy.

Our latest project focuses on conserving and interpreting the surviving wooden carvings and the unique collection of arms and armour that was displayed with the Line of Kings – spanning nearly 350 years of history.

For the first time, visitors will discover why only some kings were included and Victorian attempts to make the display more accurate and educational. Using new research to interpret these remarkable historic objects, and the documents associated with them, visitors will be able to discover their unique stories in exciting and innovative ways.

The project is supported by a £100,000 grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport/Wolfson Museums and Galleries’ Improvement Fund

Anybody who can help should contact karen.whitting@armouries.org.uk

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Notes to editors

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