Reading Room

Royal Armouries

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.

  • Public
  • Appointment
  • Lending
  • Members only
  • Accepts donations

Most of the collections in Leeds 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.
• Design drawing and blueprints of British military small arms from the mid 19th – mid 20th centuries.

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. Visitors are welcome to study  The Library and Archives Collections in our museum’s Reading Rooms. Click here for information about using our research library

You may also set up an account to use our on-line catalogue

In addition to the Library in Leeds, the Royal Armouries also has small libraries at our other sites at the Tower of London and Fort Nelson, near Portsmouth:

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.

Fort Nelson

The library at Fort Nelson collects material on the history and development of artillery and fortification; including early books, handbooks, and drill manuals relating to artillery and fortification. There is also a small reference collection of works on arms and armour.


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