Sunday 14 March 2010

English Civil War Armour Westgate Towers Canterbury - 'For God, King Charles & Kent'

Westgate Tower Canterbury famous in its own right for being the first defensive structure built (1380)specifically for defence with guns has an interesting collection of ECW armour on the walls of the main chamber. now as the museum is threatened with closure next year due to Canterbury City Council Budget cuts I thought I should post some pictures....just in case!

Canterbury was occupied by Parliamentary forces soon after the outbreak of the Civil War in August 1642. The town muskets were repaired, the city defences strengthened and new supplies of gunpowder bought.

Colonel Sandy's troops were deployed in the Cathedral, despoiling images, monuments and service books. Then encouraged by Richard Culmer - a local churchman known as Blue Dick - they fetched poles to attack the stained glass.

'Rattling down Becket's glassy bones'

Real fighting broke out on Christmas Day 1647 when the mayor tried to enforce Parliament's ban on the celebration of Christmas - along with other superstitous festivals. A thousand citizens rioted on the streets in the Royalist cause.

Parliament sent General Fairfax with 3000 troops to canterbury, where they broke down the gates and breached the city walls in a show of strength to restore order.

On the King's execution in 1649, the City duly replaced the Royal arms with those of the Commonwealth in the Guild Hall and dined with Oliver Cromwell  on his visit in 1651.  (text from museum display, Westgate Towers)

Three-quarter suit of armour c.1640
'Lobster-tail' helmet
Gorget (neck guard)
Cuirass (back & breast plates)
Spaulders (armpieces)
Tassetts (upper leg guards)

Civil War armour
Steel helmet, breastplate, and back plate worn in the 1640's by a light cavalry trooper.
The helmet is of high quality workmanship with a fully articulated neck guard - a 'lobster tail'. The breastplate is the heavy type known as 'siege-weight' , which gave extra protection to the wearer.

Flintlock Musket
Used in Canterbury in the Civil War Period
Wooden stock renewed in the 1680's, as was quite common
The letter 'C' stamped on the stock stands for canterbury City armoury



Ralphus said...

Love that sort of stuff - interesting background too - hope they manage to save it

Anonymous said...

I hope it gets saved..."Sorry we used to have a heritage kids but it got shut down! Here's a picture in a book..."

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Well I never knew they used flintlocks that early. or was it converted at the same time they did the stock?? I thought they were all wheel-lock and matchlock..

Fraxinus said...

Raplph more to come from Maidstone looking into ECW in Kent generally

Matt absolutely there is one hell of a stink going on in canterbury as the Roman museum is also threatened with a uniqu Roman pavement!

Steve hey good spot! I will go back & ask...I think a few 'snaphaunce' is that the word? early flintlocks were used by parliamentary dragoons but doubt they would have formed the standard fire arm of the militia of the time!The finger guard looks like an old matchlock/wheel-lock so perhaps it was a conversion after 1660