Royal Armouries has a library at each of its three sites: Leeds, The Tower of London, and Fort Nelson near Portsmouth. All are open to the public but please note that visitors must book in advance and photographic ID is required to access the special collections and archive. If you wish to book a visit to one of our libraries or have any queries about our services and holdings, please Contact us.

Opening times

Leeds:

Tuesday–Friday
10am–4.30pm

Tower of London:

Monday–Friday
10am–12pm
2pm–4pm

Fort Nelson:

Monday–Friday
10am–12pm
2pm–4pm

All three libraries are closed Saturday, Sunday & public holidays. The Leeds library is additionally closed on Monday.

Leeds

With holdings of over 40,000 books, pamphlets and journals, the Royal Armouries Library in Leeds is one of the largest arms and armour reference libraries in the world. Most of these works relate to the development and history of arms and armour through the ages, but there are also a number of works on related subjects such as art, technology, warfare, chivalry and knighthood, martial arts, hunting, shooting, general history, etc. There is also a collection of museum and exhibition catalogues from around the world.

Special Collections include:

  • Early books on fencing dating from the 14th to the 20th century, including works by Marozzo, di Grassi, Thibault, Hope, Angelo and Hutton.
  • Books on the art of war and military manuals dating from the 16th to the late 19th century, including works by Sir John Smythe, Henry Hexham, Sir David Dundas and Captain Nolan.
  • Arms and armour auction sales catalogues dating from the 1790’s to the present day.
We also have a large image library collection containing images of objects in our museum collection. These images are available for personal and commercial use. Usage may be subject to a license fee.

Tower of London

The library at the Tower collects material on the history of the Tower of London and its institutions, including the Board of Ordnance, The Tower as a State Prison, Mint, Public Record Office and Menagerie. There is also a reference collection of works on arms and armour, castles and fortifications, and site related material.

Special Collections include:

  • Photographs, historic prints and slides covering various aspects of Tower history
  • Archive containing historical documents relating to The Royal Armouries and Tower history
  • Microfilm archive with specific reference to the Yeoman Warders’ Dividends book 1660 – 1700; records from St. Peter ad Vincula covering: marriages (1587-1752), baptisms (1587- 1821) and burials (1550-1821); State Papers Domestic(1547-1625)

Fort Nelson

The library at Fort Nelson collects material on the history and development of artillery and fortification. There is also a small reference collection of works on arms and armour.

Special Collections include:

  • Early books, handbooks, and drill manuals relating to artillery and fortification.

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