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Having existed in one form or another for over 400 years, the Line of Kings is one of the world’s oldest exhibitions. Having been re-arranged countless times over the centuries at the whims of monarchs and curators, the latest display allows visitors to enjoy some of our most spectacular items. In this series of blog posts, we’ll bring you the story of how the Line of Kings has transformed from 1547 right through to the present day.
James II came to the throne following the death of his brother Charles II in February 1685, and at his hastily arranged coronation on 23 April the new king broke with the tradition of making a procession from the Tower to Westminster Abbey. However, the Tower featured in James’s plans in several other ways.
The officers of the Board of Ordnance wasted no time in ordering George Frankline to commission a carved wooden horse and a figure with its wooden head representing Charles II. The intention was to update the Horse Armoury so that the display featured not only the figure of Charles I – James II’s father – but also his brother. However, adding Charles II was to cause some unforeseen difficulties.
During June 1685, Frankline contacted Grinling Gibbons, one of the leading woodcarvers in England. Six months later Gibbons’ workshop had supplied the wooden horse and figure at a cost of £40. At eight times the cost of the horse made by Thomas Cass in 1669, it seems likely that Gibbons’ carvings outshone the existing ones. In 1686 the Board, placed another order with Gibbons’ workshop – this time for a horse and figure of Charles I.

The gilt armour of Charles I that has stood in the Line of Kings since the Restoration

The upgraded display featured eleven mounted figures by early 1688 but the decision to replace the Old Ordnance Storehouse with a new Grand Storehouse marked the end of this phase of the Horse Armoury. Thomas Cass moved the wooden horses into storage in the White Tower, but while the old storerooms were being demolished and work on the new Storehouse started there seems to have been a change of plan. The Board of Ordnance started commissioning new carved horses and figures, this time at £20 a piece, from five workshops, those of William Emmett, William Morgan, John Nost, Thomas Quellin, and Marmaduke Townson.
The plan was clearly for an expanded and improved Horse Armoury in a new location. Although the surviving documents do not explain this, there was an even more significant change that was made at this moment. Whereas the display previously featured not only kings but also noblemen and warriors, the carved faces of the new figures were made to produce a ‘Line of Kings’ exclusively.
However, although the contracts were issued in the summer of 1688 and the first carvings started arriving by the autumn, King James II’s reign was to be over before the year ended. On 5 November, Prince William of Orange, James II’s nephew and son-in-law, landed with an invasion force at Torbay – invited by leading Protestant politicians who feared James II’s pro-Catholic policies.
On 23 December, James II fled abroad, effectively abdicating in favour of his daughter and son-in-law, who were soon crowned Queen Mary II and King William III. Meanwhile, the Horse Armoury remained closed to visitors. To compensate George Frankline, who profited from the admission fees that visitors paid, the Board of Ordnance agreed to pay him the considerable sum of £70 per year. These payments continued until 1692 when a brand new and improved exhibition was open for business.

The Glorious Revolution

During 1689, as William III and Mary II were crowned joint monarchs, wooden horses and figures ordered the previous summer were delivered to the Tower by the carvers’ workshops of Emmett, Morgan, Nost, Quellin, and Townson. All was ready to open a new display, but not in the recently-built Grand Storehouse. The location for the ‘Line of Kings’ was the first floor of the New Storehouse (today called the New Armouries).
The exhibition deliberately focused on the monarchy, consisting of fourteen kings in a line from William the Conqueror to Charles II. This was almost certainly not by chance; kingship was a key issue, as James II had abandoned the throne and been replaced by his daughter Mary and son-in-law William. This time there were no princes or noblemen in the display as there were previously. In order to achieve this ‘Line of Kings’, the exhibition’s organisers had to deliberately ignore the known facts about certain armours, such as that of the Earl of Leicester, and assign them to a king instead.The earliest known account of the new display is an extraordinary one, following the earthquake which shook London on 8 September 1692.
In a letter of 24 September George Follett wrote of the tremors at the Tower ‘…there above stairs all the heroes and their horses are set forth in armour. Suffering such a shock it was great prowess in them to stand their ground…’
As its fame began to spread, the Horse Armoury display began to be featured in guidebooks for visitors to London. In 1693, Francois Colsoni wrote (in translation from the original French):

‘…Then you will be led to the upper area where you will be shown many Kings on Horseback and the Armour of both the Cavalry and Infantry which are kept there in good condition: you must also each give two sous on exit’.

Each visitor paid admission fees and was conducted around by a guide, either as a member of a small group or, at extra cost, individually.By 1699 the Horse Armoury featured in one of Ned Ward’s monthly humorous accounts of London life:

‘As we gently mov’d along and viewed the princely scarecrows, he told us to whom each suit of armour did belong originally, adding some memorandums out of history to every empty iron-side; some true, some false, supplying that with invention which he wanted in memory. …I could not forbear reflecting on some appearances before me, till I fancy’d myself sunk into Death’s subterranean territories where the just and the wicked, by the impartial Skeleton, are equally respected. From thence we pass’d by several princes’ armour, of which nothing was deliver’d but a bare name, till we had completed our round and came again to the door. This being the conclusion of this warlike opera, we paid our money and made our exit’.

William III died on 3 March 1702 and an armoured figure of this warrior king on horseback was quickly added to the Line.
When the figure of William III was added to the display in 1702 it increased the ‘Line of Kings’ to fifteen. The wooden head of William was carved by Nicholas Alcock and uniquely some of the original furnishings for his horse survive.

The Wooden Head of William III

The display continued to figure as an attraction to see in London guides such as Hatton’s ‘New View of London’, which makes clear that guides conducted visitors on tours of kings, from William III back in time to William the Conqueror, rather than giving an account of the history of arms and armour.
Visitors to the Tower came from many parts of Britain, from mainland Europe, and as far away as India and America. The high admission costs limited the number of visitors, however, and restricted them to the upper classes, unless they had a friend who could arrange free entry. In 1785, William Hutton, a successful businessman and enthusiastic local historian from Birmingham, recorded his poor opinions of the display: ‘In the horse armory … the royal regiment of kings, drawn up in battalia, and shown to strangers, fell short of expectation. They seemed bigger than life, which is an unpardonable error in the statuary’.
His disappointment was greater because as a young man in 1749 he had wanted to see the Tower but his ‘Derbyshire accent quickly brought the warders out of their lodge; who, on seeing the dust abound on my shoes wisely concluded that money could not abound in my pocket; and, with the voice of authority, ordered me back’.

Having existed in one form or another for over 400 years, the Line of Kings is one of the world’s oldest exhibitions. Having been re-arranged countless times over the centuries at the whims of monarchs and curators, the latest display allows visitors to enjoy some of our most spectacular items. In this series of blog posts, we’ll bring you the story of how the Line of Kings has transformed from 1547 right through to the present day.
Long before the Line of Kings was first opened, the Tower of London was home to what was referred to as the Horse Armoury. Like the Line of Kings, the Horse Armoury displayed suits of armour posed upon wooden horses but its origins are still somewhat uncertain.
Before 1652 there are no known records of wooden horses as part of the Tower Armouries displays in either inventories or visitor accounts. However, on 25 March 1652, a young Dutch visitor called Lodewijck Huygens recorded in his journal that he had seen the displays in the Old Ordnance Storehouses while looking around the Tower.
Huygens wrote that their guide:

‘took us first to the armouries where armour, mostly new and tested, for 10,000 men was stored. After this, we entered a room where horse armour used in former times was stored on wooden horses with armed men on them. There were two suits of armour worn by Henry VII and two worn by Henry VIII themselves; they were not very costly though. Another remarkable suit of armour here belonged to John of Gaunt, a renowned warrior of a few hundred years ago, who had been more than a head taller than any person of our time…’

It is unlikely that there was a royal armour exhibition during the Commonwealth but many essential ingredients were present for what was to follow. So where had they come from and why? Although there is no conclusive proof that these horses had recently been brought to the Tower from Greenwich Palace, circumstantial evidence suggests that they may well have been transferred to the Tower as part of a re-organisation of the national armoury.
On 5 April 1650, George Payler, Surveyor of the Ordnance, had carried out an inventory and recorded that in the storehouse at the Armoury of Greenwich there were ‘Wooden horses with Statues of Men mounted on them, most of them armed with equipage for Horse’. In 1650-51, the Ordnance officers decided that Edward Annesley should move the old armour from Greenwich Palace to the Tower. It is possible that as part of this process the wooden horses were also brought to the Tower. However, an alternative explanation is that a set of new horses was made for the Tower and those at Greenwich were perhaps disposed of.
No documentary evidence is available to determine which explanation is correct. However, it is known that there had been wooden horses for mounting armour in the storerooms at Greenwich Palace since at least 1547 when the inventory of King Henry VIII’s goods recorded eight such objects. By 1629, there were twelve horses recorded in an inventory that was taken at Greenwich Palace. It is possible, therefore, that some if not all of the ten horses remaining at Greenwich in 1650 were quite old.If any were brought to the Tower and still survive it is possible that they could be identified by
If any were brought to the Tower and still survive it is possible that they could be identified by tree-ring dating (dendrochronology), if an opportunity to study any oak inside the horses should arise. However, as this would have to be carried out in a non-destructive way, it may be a long time before scientifically calculated dates can be obtained for the felling of the trees used in the manufacture of these remarkable horses.

The Restoration

Charles II, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

On 29 May 1660, Charles II returned to London from exile and after the 11-year Interregnum, the monarchy was restored. Efforts quickly started to retrieve royal property which had been dispersed, including the arms and armour from the armouries. At the beginning of August, the King issued a commission at Whitehall for the audit of all arms, armour, and tools that were at the Tower, Greenwich and other royal sites.
On 4 August 1660, Charles II visited the Tower of London where he dined with Sir John Robinson, whom he had recently appointed Constable of the Tower. A fortnight later, William Legge, whom the King had re-appointed Master of the Armouries, was issued with £100 towards making an inventory of all the goods belonging to the Office of Armoury.
Legge appointed a team who recorded every item of arms and armour, producing a report entitled ‘A View & Survey of all the Armour…remayneing at the Tower of London, Taken in the month of October 1660. This recorded that in the Lieutenant’s Hall stood ten wooden horses with statues of men on them, dressed in armour and named; Prince Henry, Henry VIII, Henry VII, Edward III, Charles I, Edward IV, Henry VI, Leicester, Brandon, and William the Conqueror.
This is the earliest evidence of all the figures comprising a Horse Armoury at the Tower but the inventory poses a problem. The location at which the items were seen is not thought to have had a high enough ceiling at this date to have accommodated figures on horseback. Could there have been an error in the inventory or is it possible that at this time the display was in pieces, not complete?
One thing that the list of figures makes very clear is that the content was at this point made up of a mixture of monarchs and noblemen – it was not yet a ‘Line of Kings’. Indeed, there is no evidence that the display actually had a name yet. However, by good fortune, one visitor who saw it while visiting the Tower less than twelve months later has left us a good description in his journal. On 15 August 1661, Willem Schellinks, a Dutch artist who had only arrived in London the previous day, took a guided tour of the Tower.
He describes seeing in the Long Storehouse:

‘…behind a rail the body armour of several Kings and their horses’ armour are lined up in a row, of very ancient and uncommon fashion, but all well looked after and kept polished. According to their keeper, there is the armour of Prince Henry, King Henry VIII, King Henry VII, Edward III, Charles I, Edward IV, Henry VI, the Duke of Gloucester, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and that of William the Conqueror’.

It appears that Schellinks mistakenly wrote Duke of Gloucester when he was shown the figure of the Earl of Leicester – in which case his list exactly matches the 1660 inventory.

A growing attraction

On 22 April 1661, Charles II left the Tower of London to make the traditional coronation procession to Westminster before being crowned king in the Abbey the following day. He was the last monarch to travel from the Tower through the streets of London as part of a lavish parade watched by thousands of his people.
The Tower of London had ceased to be used as a royal palace but still remained an important fortress and state prison, as well as home to government departments such as the Armouries, Ordnance, and Mint. However, over the next twenty-five years the Tower also increasingly developed as one of London’s must-see visitor attractions for those who could afford to pay for admission. The Tower’s principal attractions for visitors were the Royal Menagerie, Crown Jewels, and Tower Armouries.
During the 1660s, Samuel Pepys, who lived and worked nearby at the Navy Board, was a frequent Tower visitor on both business and pleasure, probably benefitting from free admission through his contacts. In 1666, General Patrick Gordon, who was visiting London, recorded in his diary that he spent ‘…in wages one pound thirteen shillings’, a very large sum at the time. Both saw the Tower Armouries, which were also visited by foreign visitors who could make comparisons with what they had seen abroad.
On 23 April 1669, Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany recorded: ‘The tower also contains the armoury, in which various sorts of arms are preserved, but they are neither very numerous nor very valuable; among these are some of Henry VIII; of the Duke of Lancaster and of the Earl of Suffolk’.
Rather more impressed was French mapmaker and traveller, Albert Jouvin de Rochefort, who wrote of his visit in 1672 ‘Our conductor showed us…some (armour) which had been worn by the different kings of England during their wars; they were all gilded and engraved in the utmost perfection.’
Throughout Charles II’s reign the Horse Armoury, as it was called by 1675, seems to have been an important part of the Tower displays of arms and armour. However, it appears to have undergone only minor improvements, such as the carving of a new wooden horse by carpenter Thomas Cass in 1669 and repainting of the horses in 1682-3 by Valentine Bayley. Inventories were taken, listing the ten equestrian figures until it seems that some changes started to be made in 1681 when one wooden horse and two suits of armour were sent to Windsor Castle. However, much greater changes to the Horse Armoury rapidly followed the death of King Charles II on 6 February 1685 and the succession of his brother as James II.

Bridget Clifford recounts the stories of just some of the men held in the Tower of London on espionage charges during the First World War.
NB: This post first appeared in November 2014 as part of our The Curator @ War series.

Photograph of Fernando Buschmann

Fernando Buschmann

Fernando Buschmann was the seventh of eleven spies shot at the Tower of London between November 1914 and April 1916, and at 25 years old the second youngest. A Brazilian with a German father and Danish mother, he was educated in Europe. Having initially been interested in the business of aviation, business failures saw him return to Brazil. However, he would return to Europe in 1912 working in partnership with Marcelino Bello in a business importing food from Germany and England and exporting Brazilian bananas and potatoes. He met a Dresden girl, married her in London and all looked set for a rosy future.
In 1913 the Hamburg office of Buschmann and Bello opened, with Fernando travelling between Brazil and Europe. Success was short-lived – by September 1914 the German office had closed and Buschmann’s name was removed from the firm’s title as it was considered bad for business. Leaving his family in Dresden, he travelled throughout Europe arriving in London in April 1915. With paranoia surrounding espionage and anti-German sentiment at their height, this was to prove fatal.
Buschmann’s commercial interests had widened to include boots, mules, and guns for the French government. Despite this, he was perennially short of money, and it was his begging telegrams to a Dutch contact, “Flores”, that alerted British Counter-Intelligence. Buschmann was to claim that he had no idea that this individual was a German spymaster, but having attracted the attention of the authorities, his business activities were closely monitored. In June 1915 he was arrested.

The first page of Buschmann’s charge sheet. Sensitive information has been removed.

During questioning he claimed his business in England was to sell picric acid (an explosive), rifles, and cloth. He admitted to formerly selling flour and potatoes “but not cigars” – a number of the other spies captured at the time had been involved with the latter, and the use of tobacco products as code words was suspected. In Buschmann’s case fruit fell under suspicion as Major Drake commented in his review of the evidence “…should we be far out in suggesting that bananas and battleships are interchangeable terms?”
Buschmann was cautioned in both French and English and faced four charges under Section 48 of the Defence of the Realm (Consolidation) Regulations 1914 – in other words, he was accused of espionage, a capital crime.
Court martialled in September and unable to satisfactorily explain his dealings with known German agents, his woeful business record, trips to Southampton and Portsmouth, and the presence of invisible ink in his record books, he was found guilty. In his defence, he argued “I was never a soldier or a sailor, and I am absolutely ignorant of all military matters. I am not a good businessman as
I am more wrapped up in my music than business.”

Buschmann’s Death Certificate. The medical officer officiating at Buschmann’s execution was Francis Woodcock Goodbody (1870- 1938). In civilian life, he was a researcher in chemistry and medicine at University College, London.

Buschmann was sentenced to death by firing squad and transferred to the Tower on 18th October. He was permitted the solace of his violin which he played throughout the night. The sentence was carried out at 7:00am on the 19th October at the Tower Rifle Range.

Bridget Clifford recounts the stories of just some of the men held in the Tower of London on espionage charges during the First World War.
NB: This post was originally published in November 2014 as part of our The Curator @ War series.
Three months into the First World War as the combatants on the Western Front learnt the grim reality of trench warfare in the 1st battle of Ypres, and that it would not all be over by Christmas, the Tower of London found itself once more a place of execution.
Three hundred years after Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and former favourite of Queen Elizabeth I became the last man beheaded on site (25th February 1601), Carl Hans Lody faced an eight man firing squad at the Tower found guilty of war treason against Great Britain.

Carl Hans Lody

Born and educated in Germany, Lody completed a year’s service in the German Navy from 1900-1901 then joined the merchant fleet while remaining a naval Reservist. Working on English, Norwegian, and American ships he travelled extensively, latterly as a tourist agent running excursions for the Hamburg – Amerika line. In 1912, he met and married a wealthy American lady of German descent and they planned to make their home in the States. Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived and in July 1914 Lody found himself aged 39, unattached, $10,000 dollars richer thanks to his former father-in-law, and determined to emigrate. He contacted the general office of the German Naval Office seeking release from the Reserve, citing an illness in 1904 which had rendered him unfit for active service.
Summoned for interviews in August it was suggested that he might undertake some naval intelligence gathering in England before relocating to America. Despite his reservations as to his suitability for the role, the 27th August saw him disembarking at Newcastle as Charles Inglis an American tourist. Moving to Edinburgh, he sent his first telegram to Adolf Burchard in Stockholm on 30th August. Lody was unaware that the address was known to the British authorities who were already conducting stringent and very successful postal censorship, and who would monitor his future correspondence. Cycling round Edinburgh he relayed observations, gossip, and newspaper cuttings in further letters to Burchard. Trips to London, Liverpool, and Killarney in Ireland followed and the increasing quality of information aroused sufficient alarm for the Royal Irish Constabulary to be alerted. Charles Inglis was detained on 2nd October under the Defence of the Realm Act as a suspected German agent. Instituted on the 8th August 1914, the Defence of the Realm Act made espionage a military offence to be tried by court martial and punishable with the death penalty.
Brought to London and held at Wellington Barracks, Lody’s court martial was conducted at the Middlesex Guildhall, Westminster Broadway from Friday 30th October to Monday 2nd November. The proceedings were open to the public but the court was cleared for sentencing. On the 4th November, secret written instructions were issued to the general officer commanding London district stating that His Majesty confirmed the findings of the court and that Lody should be told of his fate the following morning. At least 18 hours had to elapse before the sentence was carried out, with every consideration afforded the prisoner for religious consolation and an interview with his legal adviser. However, there was to be no leakage to the press before the official communique was issued. The Tower was the approved place of execution given the constraints of time and secrecy, and on the evening of 5th November, a police van brought Lody to the site.

Lody in the Middlesex Guildhall during his court martial

He wrote two letters on the eve of his death – one to the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards at Wellington Barracks thanking him and his staff for their kind and considered treatment “even towards the enemy” and signing himself Senior Lieutenant, Imperial German Res. II; the second was to relations in Stuttgart stating “I shall die as an Officer, not as a spy”.
Ten further spies were executed at the Tower, the last Ludvico Hurwitz-y-Zender on 11th April 1916. The majority including Lody died in the Rifle Range in the outer ward of the Tower between the Constable and Martin Towers – an area closed to the public. As Charles ffoulkes, Keeper of the Armouries, wrote in Arms and the Tower (1939) “it is worthy of note that although London was filled with hysterical rumours of spies, secret signalling and expected sabotage, the authorities kept their heads as far as the Tower was concerned. All through the War the Tower was open to the public at 6d. a head, or on certain days free, in spite of the fact that spies were imprisoned and shot within the precincts.”

In this post, Bridget Clifford, Keeper of Tower Armouries examines diversity in the world of arms and armour.

In the 1970s, arms and armour were a man’s world both in use and study. As a recent graduate in 1977, I was fortunate to get a toe hold on the bottom rung of the curatorial ladder in the Department of Weapons and Antiquities at the National Maritime Museum. The weapons side of the Department was all female, and as my boss had a preference for the uniform collection and had mastered its complicated identification coding, I was more than happy to cut my teeth on the swords ably assisted by a recently published catalogue. Promotion saw me briefly in antiquity but my heart was pledged and I transferred to the Edged Weapons department of the Tower of London Armouries.

Today, diversity is a vital consideration in the museums and heritage sector but the display of arms and armour remains a problematic area. Cultural diversity exists in the weapons and defensive equipment on display as collections become more global, but the fighters stubbornly remain predominantly male.

Weapons are rarely gender-specific and the assumption is that they would be wielded by a man. The only weapon that comes to mind as designed specifically with women in mind is the Japanese ko-naginata – a curved single-edged blade mounted on a haft. However, a longer, heavier version exists used by male samurai, foot-soldiers, and warrior monks (ō-naginata). Longbows used for hunting, sport, and war were adapted to suit their user, so female bows survive – field archery was considered an appropriate sport for Victorian ladies – but the English laws regarding the training in and ownership of bows related only to the men in a household.

Women gave their names to legendary swords and artillery pieces presumably as companions to the men using them. Generally, a woman’s role was supportive – it was the Lady of the Lake who presented King Arthur with Excalibur and reclaimed it and it is Lady Luttrell who hands her husband his helm as he mounts his horse.  Arms and armour also provided useful surfaces for ladies to decorate – from blousy Britannias and Victories etched and engraved on sword blades, to scantily clad classical goddesses and nymphs frolicking on any available surface. Armour in portraiture was used to symbolise status well after its working life on the battlefield had ended – and in the 17th century provided an excuse for well-born ladies in the guise of an armoured Minerva to flash the flesh.

There have been female warriors both mythical and real, but they are the exception rather than the rule.  Joan of Arc successfully rallied French morale and fortunes against the 15th century English, only to be fatally condemned for her “unfeminine” behaviour. Probably the most famous women warriors were the Amazons of classical mythology, while the African kingdom of Dahomey (the modern day Republic of Benin) had a flourishing group of female warriors,
or “our mothers”, from the 17th to late-19th centuries.

Originating as a corps of elephant hunters, by the 1850s they constituted up to a third of the entire Dahomean army. Equipped with clubs, knives, and Danish guns they graduated to Winchester rifles. Capitalising on their opponents’ discomfort in killing women, special units successfully targeted French Officers in the Franco-Dahomean wars of the 1890s. Eventually, Western European technology and might triumphed, Dahomey became a French Protectorate, and the N’Nomiton, although praised for their courage and audacity, were disbanded. Their last surviving member, Nawi, died in 1979 aged over 100.

Keeper of the Tower Armouries, Bridget Clifford, continues her posts on Charles John ffoulkes, who was Curator of the Armouries from 1913-1938 – during which he took part in the World War I civil defence of London, completed the first and last complete modern printed catalogue of the Tower collection, and created a museum infrastructure within The Tower. After his retirement, he was awarded an OBE in 1925 and a CBE in 1934 in recognition of his work on the Imperial War Museum.

If ffoulkes had wondered how best he could contribute to the War effort, his involvement with London’s anti-aircraft defences saw him thrust him into the frontline on the evening of Wednesday 8th September 1915.

The threat of air raids hung over Britain from the outbreak of hostilities, finally materialising on 19th January 1915. The intention was for German naval Zeppelins L3 and L4 to attack military and industrial buildings on Humberside, while L6 targeted the Thames estuary under strict instructions to avoid London (and the Kaiser’s relations there). Engine problems forced L6 to turn back, while bad weather caused the other pair to bomb Norfolk coastal towns. As a result, Samuel Alfred Smith, shoe maker of St Peter’s Plain, Great Yarmouth became the first civilian victim of an air raid, closely followed by Martha Taylor. In King’s Lynn 14 year old Percy Goate and 26 year old Mrs Alice Gazely (recently widowed) perished.

Further raids on the East Coast followed, and on May 31st Army Zeppelin LZ.38 attacked Greater London reportedly killing 6 (nowadays revised to 7 dead with 35 injured).

At the Tower ffoulkes was already beginning to turn his thoughts to the collection and preservation of material from the conflict, and attempted – unsuccessfully – to secure examples of this new form of warfare as a letter of 8th June reveals.

The Imperial German Navy’s Zeppelin L13 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Mathy (opens in new website) was a comparatively new addition to the fleet, and its raid on Eastern Counties & London District on the night of 8th September 1915 – the 15th   raid  on England – was probably the most costly. ‘The Times’ of 10th September reported 20 dead (including children and babies) and 86 injured. Damage to property was reckoned to be £500,000. More decisively it struck at the heart of the nation’s capital.

Recalling the events of that night in his 1939 autobiography  ffoulkes admitted that realising a historic moment was approaching he ordered the anti-aircraft gun he commanded to fire before receiving official orders.   “I was questioned as to why I had fired without orders, and on giving my reasons, which were mainly of a historical nature, after a mild ‘reprimand’, was told by a sympathetic retired naval captain that I could keep the two first cartridge-cases provided that my return of used cases was complete. This was effected by judicious negotiations in the proper quarter, known as wangling, and the historic first rounds repose, the one in the Tower and the other in the Imperial War Museum”.


ffoulkes’ cartridge case accompanied by one from Tower Bridge anti-aircraft gun and the remains of a German incendiary device from the raid are on display in the Basement of the White Tower today.

There was much debate about the effectiveness of the raids. The British press asserted it merely raised anti-German feeling stiffening the home front’s resolve to resist the enemy. Much was made of the abandonment of the “honourable practice of civilized warfare to exempt from attack” civilians. The German press trumpeted British vulnerability in the face of “successful attacks, conducted with endless technical superiority” (Cologne Gazette) while stressing the raids sought to spare “the Royal Palaces, homes of art and science, monuments, churches and buildings which serve benevolent purposes” (Vessiche Zeiling).

L13 made her stately withdrawal to fight another day. On the night of October 1st 1916 while part of an 11 strong attack on the Eastern Counties she was shot down in flames at Potters Bar.  Mathy, described as “incomparably the best of all the airship commanders” perished with his crew.

London’s last Zeppelin attack was on 19th October 1917.

Keeper of the Tower Armouries, Bridget Clifford, continues her posts on Charles John Ffoulkes, who was Curator of the Armouries from 1913-1938 – during which he took part in the World War I civil defence of London, completed the first and last complete modern printed catalogue of the Tower collection, and created a museum infrastructure within The Tower. After his retirement, he was awarded an OBE in 1925 and a CBE in 1934 in recognition of his work on the Imperial War Museum.

After the traumas of March 1915, the Minute Book has a single entry for April dealing with the more humdrum concerns of everyday life in the Tower Armouries.  The continuing fight against woodworm and decay has featured in this blog before, and this month a further three wooden horses succumbed. Only one of them is readily identifiable thanks to Ffoulkes noting its association with James II.

James II reigned from 1685 – 1688 and archival records suggest that he was actively engaged with exploiting the line of kings’ display at the Tower commissioning new horses for the figures of his brother, Charles II (1685) and his father (1686). He may also have had a hand in initiating the ordering of 17 new horses and 16 new figures with faces received into Store between 1688 -1690, but he did not remain long enough to reap the reward.  In December 1688 James fled the country with his wife and 6 month old son whose birth had precipitated the crisis.  His son in law and usurper, William, was the beneficiary, using the revamp of the monarchist display to bolster his position.

James would not have satisfied the criteria (never fully defined) for inclusion in the early line, but he did leave behind a very fine harquebusier’s armour.

By 1826, the antiquarian Sir Samuel Meyrick intent on making a more historically accurate display of this line of equestrian figures had no compunction in including James together with a new horse as can be seen in the accompanying illustration of 1830.

The 1827 guide book noted that James’s abdication was reflected by his position leaving “the company of his brother sovereigns and the enclosure assigned to them … stealing cautiously along, close to the wall… with his horse’s head towards the door”. As none of the horses are coloured, the new steed may indeed have been white, but it is distinguished by its odd posture.

Unlike the earlier 17th century beasts who give the impression of solidity in their stance even with the occasional leg lifted, James’s mount is poised on the tips of three of its hooves with only its offside foreleg extended to meet the ground more firmly. Unfortunately 2 illustrations of the figure published in 1842 seem to show a completely different horse – the Penny Magazine one having also changed its colour.

A photograph in a private album of the 1870s shows James back in line with his fellow kings reunited with the impractical prancing white steed in the New Horse Armoury.

With the clearance and subsequent demolition of the New Horse Armoury in 1881, the equine figures moved into the White Tower colonising the top floor.  Once again James found himself displayed adrift from the parade, riding across the south wall of the gallery while his fellows processed northwards along the length of the floor.

Interestingly, the magazine engraving of the display from the Graphic of 1885 has reversed James and omitted the splendid electrical globe lighting installed by the Royal Engineers in 1884.  It does however show the decoration of the roof light surrounds in great detail.

The final image of the group so far identified is this postcard dated 1903 showing the later configuration of the displays issuing out from the walls towards the central light wells with their surrounds of Land Transport Corps swords.  The latter were gleefully disposed of by ffoulkes in February 1914.

Perhaps James’s horse pined with the destruction of the Victorian displays and weakened, crumbled under the dual assault of worm and fungus.

Dismounted, James’s  armour was shown near to the  Stuart Prince’s armours according to the Guidebook of 1916.  As the guide notes the more highly decorated armours had “recently been placed under glass owing to the injurious effects of the river mists upon their surfaces”. It was only rehorsed – using one of the original 17th century stallions – in July 2013, complete with new 21st century body, and original wooden head of Charles II. Today the full figure can be seen in all its glory on the East side of the Entrance floor – cased of course to guard against mists and visiting fingers.

James’s armour will be on its travels again this autumn, moving down river to Royal Museums Greenwich to appear in the exhibition “Samuel Pepys and the Stuart Age” (November 2015 – April 2016).









Keeper of the Tower Armouries, Bridget Clifford, continues her posts on Charles John Ffoulkes, who was Curator of the Armouries from 1913-1938 – during which he took part in the World War I civil defence of London, completed the first and last complete modern printed catalogue of the Tower collection, and created a museum infrastructure within The Tower. After his retirement, he was awarded an OBE in 1925 and a CBE in 1934 in recognition of his work on the Imperial War Museum.

170415_Ffoulkes Buckingham part 1.jpeg

Buckingham’s departure for war had been recorded in the Minute Book entry of 5th September 1914.  Technically he had retired from the Territorial Army in April 1912, but on the outbreak of war he re-enlisted aged 45 and his eighteen years experience as a Volunteer Artilleryman – including a year’s active service in South Africa in 1900 – were to be put to good use training volunteers. Bidding farewell to his wife of 3 years, Buckingham set off to serve King and Country in Peterborough.  As Dillon commented in his appreciation of Buckingham published in the Ilford Recorder of 26th April 1915 “He was a most enthusiastic soldier and devoted much time to the making of soldiers”.

Buckingham fell sick in February 1915 and was given 3 weeks home leave. He died on the “very hour” he should have returned to duty according to one newspaper account. Cause of death? Phthisis – for keen scrabble players a useful archaic term for tuberculosis (apparently pronounced Tie-sis for those of us not fluent in classical Greek).

Dillon, Curator of the Tower Armouries from 1892 to 1913, was fulsome in his praise of his former colleague. “As a servant of the Government he was essentially one of the “Queen’s good bargains”, and his place will not easily be filled up” Dillon told the press. “As Foreman of the Armouries he displayed much zeal, and his intelligent and tireless work materially assisted in the classification and instructive arrangement of the treasures of the national collection.  He became a good judge of the genuineness or otherwise of objects in his charge and was a most willing pupil of those who could instruct him”.   Above all else he was innately a “gentleman”. The latter judgement was re-enforced in Dillon’s letter of 29 May 1915 to Buckingham’s widow, Daisy (formerly Miss Clarke) where he assured her “I knew your husband for some 20 years and always had the warmest regard and respect for him” adding “I’m sure that anyone whom he married would be of the same high standard as himself” – not perhaps a judgement one would expect to find openly expressed today.

Ffoulkes in his autobiography Arms and the Tower (John Murray, 1939) ascribed Buckingham’s death to “a chill caught in drilling Territorial Artillery”, and provided practical help when the family made enquiries as to the arrangements for a military funeral. It transpired that there were no suitable guns left in London to bear the coffin – all serviceable ordnance was in action on the Continent. However ffoulkes pulled some strings, and although he was vague as to which department of the War Office obliged “with commendable speed a dummy gun and carriage were made” which went on to be frequently used for funerals in the early war years.

Buckingham’s funeral was set for Saturday 20th March 1915, arrangements with Messrs Dyer & Sons of Forest Gate and Ilford, with the interment announced for 3.30 pm. Look out for part two of this post – coming next week – to learn more of the event, which according to the local press aroused much interest and attracted an enormous crowd of spectators.

Keeper of the Tower Armouries, Bridget Clifford, continues her posts on Charles John Ffoulkes, who was Curator of the Armouries from 1913-1938 – during which he took part in the World War I civil defence of London, completed the first and last complete modern printed catalogue of the Tower collection, and created a museum infrastructure within The Tower. After his retirement, he was awarded anOBE in 1925 and a CBE in 1934 in recognition of his work on the Imperial War Museum.

A showcase in the White Tower at the Tower of London will be dedicated to telling the story of the Tower and its people during the First World War, with content updated annually – we caught up with Bridget Clifford, Keeper of Tower Armouries to tell us more about the upcoming display…

Not another exhibition commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War? Surely, you groan, there can’t be any new angles to be examined?

Well, yes there can. Contemplating the best way to commemorate the Tower Armouries’ connections with the First World War posed a number of challenges, not least the fact we have just completed a 4-year long re-display of all the White Tower galleries. An extensive re-exhibition was not an option. However we do have a unique record of this period specific to the site and its staff and deserving of a wider audience.  So it was decided to make a virtue of necessity and let other museums with the space and collections tell the greater story.  We would concentrate on the site itself and the events recorded in the Tower Minute Book (I.189) and Diary (I.188).

The Tower Minute book and Diary continue the tradition of the books of Receipts and Issues kept by Storekeepers from the time of the earliest Tower stores.  On his appointment as Curator in 1913 Charles ffoulkes expanded their content to reflect the wider aspects of the job.  From 1917 he expanded his Tower remit to include the acquisition of current war material by becoming the first Curator of the National War Museum (today’s Imperial War Museum).  Fortunately the terms and conditions of his original Armouries’ role were sufficiently flexible to allow him to continue his oversight of The Tower’s historic military equipment at the same time.

ffoulkes at his desk in the Flamstead Tower 23 September 1916 © Royal Armouries

ffoulkes at his desk in the Flamstead Tower 23 September 1916 © Royal Armouries

Interesting as the archival record is, it is not in itself an ideal display material.  So as well as selected extracts from the Minute book set on a panel, a central case expands one of the stories using objects from the Tower history collection.  Both these displays will change annually.  In 2014 the spotlight falls on William Henry Noble Buckingham – local lad and Foreman of the Armouries.  His story ends with a 22-gun salute above his grave in Ilford cemetery. The focus for 2015 is Fernando Buschmann, violinist and convicted German spy, whose story ends early on the morning of 19 October 1915 with the volley of a firing squad at the Tower.

The display is contextualised by means of an introductory panel outlining the war-time visitor experience and the main characters.

Over the next 4 years we invite you to enter the surreal world of the Tower at war.  While fighting raged on the continent, it was business as usual at the Tower despite the threat of Zeppelin raids, in fact from 1916 the offer expanded with the whole of the White Tower opening as a museum. At the same time as German spies were shot in the early morning, foreign dignitaries were feted and shown round the spoils of earlier European conflict during the day. Most of all welcome to the world of Charles ffoulkes – one of the major shapers of our current perception of the First World War.

Blogger: Bridget Clifford, Keeper of Tower Armouries

Curatorial Assistant, Kathleen McIlvenna tells us why you should join her at the Archaeology Weekend to discover the secrets of the Tower of London foreshore.

Tower Foreshore dig in 1986

Tower Foreshore dig in 1986 © Royal Armouries

Last year I wrote a blog discussing the start of a pilot volunteer project to look at a collection of foreshore finds. These finds were the result of an excavation of the Tower of London foreshore in September 1986.

With the help of four volunteers and advice from the Museum of London Archaeology Centre we have successfully repackaged and catalogued over 700 small finds from this dig. These objects included gun furniture, pike tips, and musket balls, demonstrating the development and manufacture of weapons on the site.

These finds are important as they provide physical evidence of the Office of Ordnance’s workshops on the Tower of London wharf, and also helped to prove that the Tower foreshore is an important archaeological site.

Tower Foreshore dig in 1986 © Royal Armouries

Tower Foreshore dig in 1986 © Royal Armouries

Our volunteers had experience of working on archaeological collections with the Museum of London, and some had also worked with the Thames Discovery Programme, so were familiar with foreshore archaeology. This proved helpful for handling and repacking the finds. We were able to give the volunteers greater insight into the development of weaponry and the history of the Tower in relation to the Office of Ordnance, an important government department until it was dissolved in 1853.

To celebrate the volunteer project’s success, I will be at the Tower of London Archaeological weekend on 19 and 20 July with a couple of the volunteers. We will have a few of the important objects relating to the Ordnance workshops and a chance for visitors to make their own Ordnance badges. If you’re around please come and say hello, there will be lots of stalls and a chance for a limited number of people to explore the foreshore.

Blogger: Kathleen McIlvenna, Curatorial Assistant – Tower Collections