The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2Allen, Thomas
The Small Armoury.
In this magnificent room, we behold arms for about men, all new, flinted, and fit for service at minutes notice: a sight which it is impossible to view without astonishment. Of the dispositions of the arms, no description can give the reader a complete idea; but the following account may enable the spectator to view them to great advantage.
The arms were originally disposed in this beautiful order by Mr. Harris, a common gun-smith, who, after he had performed this wonderful work, which is the admiration of people of all nations, was allowed a pension for his ingenuity. On each side of the door is a beautiful representation of the sun; that on the east side represents him as rising, and that on the west as setting: they are irradiated with regular ellipses of pistols in a chequered frame of marine hangers, of a peculiar make, having brass handles, and the form of a dog's head on their pommels.
handsome pillars, entwined with pistols in a serpentine direction up to the top of the room, which is about feet high, and placed at right-angles, with the representation of a falling star on the ceiling, exactly in the middle of them, being the centre of this noble armoury, which is feet in length, and feet in breadth.
In the centre of this room is a glass case on a table, which contains the sword, sash, &c. of his late royal highness the duke of York and , which he wore as field marshal of the British army. They were deposited in the Tower by command of his majesty, .
Here are likewise fluted pillars, composed of Spanish spikes, standing feet high, and round their tops pistols are
|placed to represent gilded cornices, as also all round the top of the room, opposite to which are curious suits of mail and military trophies.|
On the south side of this armoury, facing the folding doors, is a very curious cannon, a -pounder, taken by the French at Malta, in , which, with the flags that are exhibited in this room, were sent, with other trophies, to the French directory by the La Sensible frigate, in which ship they were taken by the English Sea Horse, commanded by captain Foote. The cannon is made of a mixture of metal, which very much resembles gold. On it is the head of the grand master of Malta, supported by genii of that place, in bas relief; it is also highly ornamented with eagles, a crown, the alcoran, &c. all of very exquisite workmanship. The inscriptions on it are . The carriage is likewise a great curiosity; on it are the carved figures of furies, whose features are strongly expressive of rage. arm of each of them being entwined together, grasps a large snake, and in the other hand each holds a torch. From the head of of them issues a cluster of small snakes: those which were on the other are broken off. The centres of the wheels represent the face of the sun, and the spokes its rays.
of the Maltese colours hang as you enter, and the other at the corners of the room.
On each side of the above-mentioned matchless cannon, is a fine representation, in carved work, of the star and garter, thistle, rose, and crown, ornamented with pistols, swords, &c. and elegantly enriched with birds, fruit, &c.
Under these curious figures, some carbines, of a peculiar make, are placed, having fine brown barrels; of them is a rifle bore, and the other plain; they were invented by the duke of Richmond for the flying artillery.
A silver-mounted gun, formerly belonging to Tippoo Sultan's guard; the bayonet is made to go into the butt-end of the gun: from the collection of H. R. H. the late duke of York.
Proceeding round the room towards the west-end, on the north side, bayonets and sword-bayonets, in the form of half-moons and fans, and set in carved scollop shells. The sword-bayonet is made like the old bayonet, and differs from it only in being longer.
These bayonets, of which several other military fans are composed, are of the invention; they have plug handles, which go into the muzzle of the gun instead of over it, and thereby prevent the firing of the piece without shooting away the bayonet. These were invented at Bayonne, in Spain, from whence they derive their name.
A camp-counterpane, composed of pistols, bayonets, swords, &c. with the imitation of a target in the centre, made of bayonet blades, and very curiously ornamented.
Some arms taken at Bath, in the year , distinguished from all others in the Tower, by having what is called dog-locks, that is, a kind of lock with a catch to prevent their going off at half-cock. At the west-end of the armoury is
A beautiful eagle in the middle of a square of pistols, holding the rose and crown.
A curious figure of an ancient warrior, in a fine suit of foot armour; he has a sword in his right hand, and stands upon a pedestal, about feet high.
handsome figures of a lion and unicorn, in circles of pistols; they are also curiously decorated with carbines, bayonets, ancient swords, &c.
A representation of a swordsman, in a suit of bright steel armour, placed upon a pedestal.
A fine eagle, holding the thistle and crown in her claws, facing the fore-mentioned, and is curiously ornamented.
We now proceed to the south side of the room, where we are shown the earl of Mar's elegant shield, in the middle of an ellipses of ancient marine hangers; they have brass handles, with a guard, and are kept very bright; over which .is the representation of cherubs, with a crown over their heads.
Some very curious carbines, taken from the Highlanders, in . Here are likewise the sword of justice, with a sharp point, and the sword of mercy with a blunt , carried before the Pretender on his being proclaimed king of Scotland, in .
brass musketoons, Spanish carbines, pistols, &c. ingeniously displayed.
The arms taken from sir William Perkins, sir John Friend, Charnock, and others, concerned in the assassination plot, in ; among them is the brass blunderbuss, with which they intended to shoot king William, near Turnham Green, in his way to ; also the carbine that Charnock engaged to shoot his majesty with as he rode a hunting.
The form of large pair of folding gates, made of ancient halberts, the archways of which are composed of pistols and original bayonets, and in their centre hang bandeliers, as also ancient cartouch-boxes, &c.
Horsemen's carbines, hanging very artificially in furbeloes and flounces, which was the original arrangement.
A fine figure of Jupiter riding in a fiery chariot, drawn by eagles, as if in the clouds, holding a thunderbolt in his left hand, and over his head is a rainbow; it is curiously carved, and decorated with ancient bayonets and military fans.
Having arrived at the east end of the room, we observe suits of fine foot armour, of which holds a flaming sword
|in his right hand, and the other made for an ancient warrior. Over each of these is a semicircle of pistols, and on each side, as also beneath each of them, are placed fine brass musketoons, which represent handsome organs, with elegant brass pipes.|
A very curious representation of an hydra, whose heads are artfully carved and combined by links of pistols, and original bayonets.
A fine figure of a fiery serpent, the head and tail of which are curiously carved, and its body is decorated with ancient pistols, carved scollop shells, &c. winding round in the form of a snake.
On the north side, as we return to the centre, the figure that attracts attention, is Medusa's head, vulgarly called the Witch of Endor, within regular ellipses of pistols, and military fans, with snakes represented as stinging her. The features are finely carved, and the whole figure contrived with curious art.