Royal Armouries

William Schellinks at the Tower in 1661

Images

White tower in 1547 - Lapper painting

Detail of Ivan Lapper painting of the Tower of London in 1547 showing the old storehouses, location of the Horse Armoury in 1661.

  • White tower in 1547 - Lapper painting

    Detail of Ivan Lapper painting of the Tower of London in 1547 showing the old storehouses, location of the Horse Armoury in 1661.

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure holding a wooden baton

    Greenwich armour for field and tournament. (II.40)

  • colour photo of a boy's full length armour with a wooden head

    Boy's armour. (II.126)

  • colour photo of Charles I's gilt full-length armour

    Gilt armour of King Charles I, made for Henry, Prince of Wales. Dutch, about 1612 (II.91)

  • colour photo of lacquer and gold helmet from a Japanese armour

    Detail of armour presented to King James I in 1613, Japanese, c 1570. xxvia.1

  • colour photo of a laced Japanese armour on a wooden box

    Armour presented to King James I in 1613. Japanese, about 1570 (XXVA.1)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VIII

    Carved wooden head of Henry VIII. English, about 1689-91 (XVII.1)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Edward III

    Carved wooden head of Edward III. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.41)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VII

    Carved wooden head of Henry VII. English, about 1689-91 (XVII.40)

William Schellinks at the Tower in 1661

Description

William (Willem) Schellinks visited the Tower of London and in his Journal has left one of the earliest descriptions of the display later called the Horse Armoury or Line of Kings:

‘Next follows a long room, in which 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 the 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 (ie the Earl of Leicester), Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and that of William the Conqueror’.

Schellinks was a Dutch painter, draughtsman, etcher and poet who had been born in Amsterdam in 1623. He arrived in England in July 1661 with the merchant ship-owner Jacques Thierry (1604-77) and his son Jacobus Thierry (1648-1709). Schellinks was about to accompany the thirteen year old boy on a Grand Tour, taking him from England to France, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Germany and Switzerland. They did not return to the Netherlands until August 1665.

Schellinks and his travelling companions had arrived in London on 14 August 1661, staying in lodgings at Tower Street. He took the boy on a walk to London Bridge, and then to look at the outside of the Tower of London. On the following day they returned to see inside the Tower. After viewing the animals in the menagerie, they were shown around the site and then entered the armoury. Amongst the many exhibits which he noted in his Journal, Schellinks describes several which can be clearly identified in the Royal Armouries collection today, including:

‘…two suits of body armour, one a present from the Great Mogul to the present king, the other the cuirass which the King wore in his youth in the battles between his father Charles I and parliament’.

The armoury buildings in which Schellinks and Jacobus Thierry saw the displays no longer survive. However his comment that ‘… through a window we looked into the Tower Chapel, in which a service is held every Sunday’ confirms that they were in the Long Storehouse, which was demolished in 1688, next to the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Having not yet satisfied their curiosity, the travellers returned to the Tower twice more before they finally left England on 18 April 1663. On 20 March 1662 Schellinks recorded: ‘…then went to the Tower to look at all that was to be seen, and then went into the Mint, where I struck a silver halfcrown as a keepsake’. Finally, on 28 March 1663 they ‘…went to the Tower to see the new money mint of the French mint master Blondeau … (and)…then went to see the lions and the leopards, eagles etc’.

While in England Schellinks made numerous drawings, including at Greenwich, Hampton Court and Windsor. Unfortunately, no drawing of the Tower by Schellinks is known to survive, despite his interest in the sites of the royal palaces.

Related Objects

Edward III in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Armour (domaru) Click on the title link above to find out more.

Edward IV in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Samuel Meyrick and the Rearrangement of the Horse Armoury, about 1824-1827 Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry VIII in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry VII in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Charles I in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry VI in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

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

Creating a Display: from the English Civil War to the Restoration of the House of Stuart Click on the title link above to find out more.

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Line of Kings