Meet the Horse: Tino

driff 00516.1HH Lusitano x Irish Draught

With his beautiful dun coat Tino is sure to catch your eye. A brilliant trick riding horse who is also trained at liberty. He has competed in both show jumping and dressage. Tino’s greatest battle in life is against the dreaded enemy …food….as you can see by his rather cylindrical shape he is losing the battle. However he has taken home many a victory on the jousting field.

tino2 tino3Tine center

Meet the Horse: Albert

albert16.3HH  Irish Draught x Thoroughbred

Albert is one of the tallest horses in the competition. He has previously graced the public with his presence at the Great Yorkshire Show in ridden Hunter classes and has also been on the big screen in Brideshead Revisited and The Kings Speech and on the small screen in Emmerdale and presently in the BBCs adaptation of Poldark.    At home he enjoys eating, sleeping and doing quiet hacks. However he is still as sharp as ever when called to battle.

ATT00001Easter Tournament 2013020413_3_Albert


Meet the Jouster: Jarosław 'Jarek' Struczyński

Age: 50988424_688172781246965_4677779373824770768_n

Height: 171cm

Weight: 74 kg

Jousting since: 2006

Team: Poland

Personal best/highlight: highest individual score on Le Tournoi du Lys d’Argent in Canada in 2012, Tournament in Trondheim, Norway and Tournament of the Phoenix, USA in 2013

Motto: “Deo omnis gloria” (All glory to God)

Strength: Trust

By day: Founder of several re-enactment groups (15th – 17th century) and organised numerous international military/historical events.

By knight:

Having instigated the reconstruction and regeneration of Gniew Castle 1992, Jarek has supported the site’s transformation into one of Poland’s leading centres for historical re-enactment and the cultivation of past traditions.

He is co-organizer of the largest re-enactment event in Poland (The Battle of Tannenberg 1410), where he portrays the Grand Master of Teutonic Order, and is co-founder and Marshall of the Chapter of Polish Knights. Jerek has been heavily instrumental in setting up jousting tournaments across Poland, and has taken part in competitions in Poland, England, Belgium, France, Norway, Canada and the USA. He achieved highest individual score at Le Tournoi du Lys d’Argent in 2012, and Tournament in Trondheim and Tournament of the Pheonix in 2013.

Additional talents: Founder member of the Gregorian choir of Schola Cantorum Gymevensis.

To see Jarek in action, book your tickets on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!

Jarek Struczynski's colours.

Jarek Struczynski’s colours.


C: Stephen Moss photography


C: Stephen Moss photography


Meet the Jouster: Nicky Willis

Age: 45P1090613

Height: 1.85m

Weight: 76kg

Jousting since: 2008

Team: England

Personal best/highlight: crowned as 2013 Joust Champion at the Tonsberg Tournament, part of the Oslo Medieval Festival in Norway. Career highlight – competing in a jousting tournament for the first time ever at Hackaland in Belgium in 2010.

Strengths:  a very empathetic rider and likes to treat each horse as an individual by playing to their particular strengths. She is also a strong team player and savours the sportsmanship of competition jousting.

Weaknesses: naturally left-handed. Tall height can sometimes be a disadvantage, especially on smaller horses where the leg contact is more difficult to maintain.

Motto: Qui dicit non u puellae (Who says it is not for girls!)

By day: Manages ‘Horses 4 History‘ in Northamptonshire, which trains and supplies horses for film, TV and live action events of all kinds.

By knight:

Originally from South London, Nicky started riding when she was 11 years old as a member of the South London Pony Club, where she competed in various events and exams. From 1988 – 2006 Nicky ran her own livery yard in South London where she started breaking in and schooling horses. Her horse supply work started with the 1415 medieval re-enactment group and her first joust was at the Tower of London in 2008.

Nicky has worked with horses in a variety of capacities and across many disciplines, including ridden and driven, for more than 30 years. Her first taste of the world of historical horses was back in 1997. Her career in historic equitation truly took off in 2001 when she was selected to train for and take part in a televised chariot racing contest in Spain. Since then her career has taken her to many parts of the world and over the years she has been privileged to work with the likes of renowned horse trainer and stuntman Tony Smart, Royal Armouries, English Heritage, Royal Historical Palaces and British Open Equestrian Championships.

Nicky is also very experienced in the world of film and TV, having supplied horses for and appeared in the likes of Pride and Prejudice, Robin Hood, War Horse and recently the TV series Crimson Fields.

Nicky has been involved with horse supply to the Royal Armouries for their flagship international jousting tournaments since 2003. She started jousting in 2008, and in 2010 joined the International Jousting League – becoming a jouster in her own right. In this capacity she went on to compete across Europe and beyond, as far as Australia!

Easter 2015 will be the very first time that Nicky has competed as a jouster at the Royal Armouries, and she is the first British woman ever to do so; she is relishing the prospect.

Nicky has taken part in:

  • 2010 Hackaland, Belgium
  • Horsans European Championship, Denmark
  • 2011 Hackaland, Belgium
  • 2012 Winter Fest, Sydney
  • Abbey Medieval Festival, Brisbane
  • Skive Europesn Championship, Denmark
  • 2013 Kyral Caste, Melbourne
  • 2014 Castellapertole, Italy

To see Nicky in action, book your tickets to the Easter Tournament on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!

knight on horse

Meet the Jouster: Andy Deane ('Old Iron-arm')


Andy Deane as individual champion at Arundel International Tournament 2014

Age: 50

Height: 180cm

Weight: 82kg

Jousting since: 1993

Personal best/highlight: Leading the Royal Armouries team to victory a record breaking three times in a row for the coveted Sword of Honour in Leeds.

Motto: Fortis Labore (Strong work)

Strength: Experience.

By day: Visitor Experience Team Coach, Royal Armouries

By knight: (biography/career information)

As a young man-at-arms, in 1985, Andy strode out in front of an audience for his first ‘Trial by Combat’. Nervous, and with sword and shield in hand, he fought hard and well. That was it – he was hooked. As a boy Andy only ever wanted to be a knight, and that first combat gave him the thirst to practice all the martial skills of the medieval warrior. Having ridden horses since the age of four, to joust was the ultimate goal, and in 1993 Andy experienced the thrill of his first tournament as a jouster. In 1995 he joined the famous ‘Royal Armouries’ jousting team in Leeds, and had the honour of being captain of that team for many years. During this time Andy had the privilege of clashing with nearly all the top world jousters, past and present. Since that first combat thirty years ago, Andy has travelled across Europe, Asia, Canada and America performing and teaching the medieval martial skills needed by a knight to survive in tournament or battle.

Andy says “It is a privilege, once again, to represent the Royal Armouries at what is now the museums twentieth season of jousting here in Leeds. The truly international element of this years expanded tournament has ramped up my excitement at the prospect of crossing lances with some of the biggest, most aggressive Jousters ever seen in the museums arena.”

Additional talents: Open water diving, up to 30 metres.

See Andy’s epic training routine below in our epic mini-film with Leeds Dock’s Primal Gym – ‘How To Train a Knight’.

To witness Andy in action, book your tickets on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day combo tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!

Fortis Labore

Andy Deane’s colours



Andy Deane as individual champion at Arundel International Tournament 2014

IMG_2415- Joust Easter 201421IMG_4076- Joust Easter 20142635_smaller

Meet the Jouster: Ben van Koert

non_armourAged: 35

Height: 167cm

Weight: 75kg

Jousting since: 2011

Personal best/highlight: won the Arundel International Tournament Joust 2013 chivalry prize. Highlight – Arundel International Tournament Team Champion 2014.

Motto: ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’ (“Through hardships to the stars”).

Strength: Meticulous

By day: System and network administrator in a school

By knight:

Ben has been involved with the the world of re-enactment and historical interpretation since 1999, and part of leading interpretations of medieval war and tournament both on foot and on horse in Germany, Belgium, the UK, the USA, Australia and, of course, in his native Netherlands.

He has participated in medieval jousting events in the Netherlands, the UK, and Australia. He won the chivalry prize at the Arundel Castle International Tournament in 2013, and was a team champion the following year.

Ben’s talents also extend to fire-artistry, and he has recently produced videos of jousting and re-enacting at events as Kaos Historical Media.

This will be his first time at the Royal Armouries.

To see Ben in action, book your tickets to the Easter Tournament on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!


Ben Van Kurt's colours

Ben Van Kurt’s colours

ben van kurt 2


Meet the Jouster: Steve R. Gagnon

Age: 50 00770_Steve_Gagnon_buste

Height: 188cm

Weight: 99kg

Jousting since: 2000

Team: Burgundy

Personal best/highlight: Best jouster in King John III International Tournament, Poland, 2013 against 11 of the world’s top jousters.

Strength: Overall strength and calmness.

Weakness: Training – In Quebec, long winters make it very difficult to joust as regularly and often as Europeans.

Motto: Ubi tenebræ sunt, ego sum (Where the darkness lies, I am)

By day: Art & Creative Advertising Director

By knight:

Developed jousting tournaments for sport and historical divisions, especially with the creation of the Lys d’Argent International Jousting Tournament, 2010. Steve has competed in Belgium, France, Poland, England, USA and Canada and won the Lys d’Argent international jousting tournament in 2012 with his teammates Marc Hamel and Patrice Rolland.

Steve is a pioneer in equestrian jousting in Québec and creator and organiser of medieval festivals for the past nine years. He lives in the countryside of Montreal on a ranch where he trains horses for historical jousting competitions.

Extra talents: Drawing, painting and sculpting.

To see Steve in action, book your tickets on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!

Steve Gagnon's arms

Steve Gagnon’s arms


knight wearing black and silver

Meet the Jouster: Jan Gradon

Age: 3411050957_10206262886357958_1358098300_n

Height: 194cm

Weight: 100kg

Jousting since: 2007

Team: Poland

Personal best/highlight: highest individual score at Tournament of the Phoenix, USA 2011, the second individual position at Arundel International Tournament 2013 and Skill at Arms competition champion at Arundel 2014

Motto: “Amor Vincit Omnia” (Love Conquers All)

Strength: Composure

By day: Office General Manager

By knight:

Jan began his career in 1996 with historical re-enactment on foot, and then got on a horse in 2005. He’s trained in full-contact medieval foot combat, portrayed an Ulhan cavalry-man of the 19th century Grand Ducy of Warsaw, and rode as a knight at Europe’s largest battle re-enactments, the battles of Tannenberg (Poland) and Hastings (UK).

As a member of Xiazeca Druzyna, a Polish historical mounted display team, Jan competes in tournaments across Europe and America. In 2011 he burst into the top ranks of the international jousting scene in style by winning America’s most prestigious competition, the Tournament of the Phoenix, California.

2013 saw Jan compete at the Arundel International Tournament in the Holy Roman Empire team, at which he gained the second individual position, and the following year he returned under the banner of his home country and won the Skills at Arms individual competition.

This will be Jan’s first appearance at the Royal Armouries Tournament.

To see Jan in action, book your tickets on our website or by calling bookings on 0113 220 1888.

Day tickets cost from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions!


Jan Gradon’s colours.


C: Stephen Moss photography


C: ARW Photography


Conservation Live! at the Royal Armouries: Siborne’s Waterloo Model

Conservation of Captain William Siborne’s remarkable model of the battlefield of Waterloo is now underway at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Conservation Live! of the miniature soldiers of Waterloo.

Conservation Live! of the miniature soldiers of Waterloo.

The model, which was completed in 1843, shows – in marvellous detail – the battlefield as it was at around 1:30pm on 18 June 1815. It is more than five metres long and two metres wide, and it comes apart into ten sections. The battlefield is populated by more than 3,000 finely modelled and painted lead figures including soldiers, horses and artillery.


Section of the model before conservation.

The model has been on display at the Royal Armouries since 1996. Now, in advance of the bicentenary of the battle, it is being dismantled and conserved piece by piece as part of a Conservation Live! programme.

Cleaning the thousands of models on the battlefield is a slow and careful process.

Cleaning the thousands of models on the battlefield is a slow and careful process.

British soldiers in miniature - look closely and you can see their individual faces!

British soldiers in miniature – look closely and you can see their individual faces!

A Waterloo soldier supports his wounded companion.

A Waterloo soldier supports his wounded companion.

The detail on each figure has to be seen to be believed.

The detail on each figure has to be seen to be believed.

Conservator Cymbeline Storey working on the model.

Conservator Cymbeline Storey working on the model.

From March until May 1st 2015 museum visitors can meet the Conservator, discuss the conservation programme and watch conservation of the model taking place. At 11:00 and 2:00 visitors can attend talks with the Conservator, which is ticketed due to limited access, or simply drop in between 2:30-3:30pm. For more information on how to take part please ring the Royal Armouries on 0113 220 1999 or email Alternatively, keep your eye out for further blog posts over the next few months as conservation work progresses

Cymbeline Storey
Waterloo Model Conservator


Otley War Memorial research

As part of our project on the history and memory of the First World War our team of adult learners, pictured above, is researching some of the names from the Otley war memorials.

Adult learners

There are several memorials in Otley to those who served in the First World War: a memorial plaque in the Parish Church; a memorial in Otley Methodist Church on Boroughgate and one in Our Lady and All Saints Catholic Church on Bridge Street. We’ve chosen six soldiers from the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment who are listed on the Otley memorials to find out more about. Most of our soldiers served on the Western Front and none survived the war.

In researching our soldiers we’ve made use of battalion war diaries, official records and memoirs of men who served in the same battalion at the same time to try to reconstruct their war service and the circumstances of their deaths. We’ve also investigated their family backgrounds using online census data and parish records. However, we know next to nothing about what kind of people they were. We don’t have photographs of any of them. While most of them died unmarried and therefore don’t have descendants that we know of, we are aware that there might be families in and around Otley who have connections to some of these men.

Do you recognise any of the names below? Do you have a family connection to any of them? If you have any information, anecdotes or family stories that could help our research we’d love to hear from you.

Joseph Bona was a Company Sergeant Major in the 10th battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He was killed on 18 October 1917 aged 25 and is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Fred Chippendale served at Gallipoli with the 8th Battalion. He was injured and subsequently died of dysentery on 22 September 1915. He is buried in the Cario War Memorial Cemetery.

Edgar Mudd is the only one of our soldiers for whom we’ve been able to find regimental records online. When he attested for the army in december 1915 he stated he was willing to serve “for any service where my being blind in one eye is not detrimental”. Edgar served with the 1/7 Battalion and was killed in action in France on 3 July 1916. He is named on the Thiepval Memorial.

Walter Rollin was born in Halifax and served with the 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He was killed on 3 March 1917 and is buried in Fins New British Cemetery, Sorel-le-Grand.

William Simpson served with the 2/5th and later the 5th battalion. He was killed in action aged 33 on 7 November 1918, just days before th war ended. He is buried at Maugeuge-Centre cemetery, having been exhumed from his original resting place in Mecquigeines churchyard and reburied there in 1950. The exhumation report includes his dental records and states that William’s size 9 leather boots and a jerkin insignia of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment were still on his body, together with a pocket knife and various coins.

William Swainston served with the 9th Battalion and was killed on 2 March 1916. He was originally buried in Zillebike and was exhumed and reburied in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery in 1927.