Meet the Horse: Dylan


15HH Dales

A determined little tank who will joust whilst conserving energy. Will do the minimum required them plod back to his stable for his hay net. But still gets winning results, a very clever little horse who at the moment is playing Elizabeth’s horse on Poldark. He has been in many TV and film productions but also takes part in our trick riding and stunt shows , specialising in jumping fire and fighting dragons!!

Picture 263Easter Tournament 2013020413_109_DylanEaster Tournament 2013020413_110_DylanEaster Joust  - April 2014_10_DylanDylan2

Meet the Horse: Ted

ted15.1HH Irish Cob

Ted or Tedward Bear as he is so valiantly known behind the scenes, is a true gent. Having turned his hoof to everything from being a county show cob to pulling wagons of potatoes whilst filming, or pulling a roman chariot. Ted has seen and done it all. Unfazed and unimpressed, he runs straight and true down the list and has won many a competition at the Royal Armouries.

ted in action

Easter Tournament 2013020413_117_Ted

Mark Caple won the Queen’s Jubilee Horn in 2014 riding Ted.

Knight on horse

Royal Armouries jouster Andy Deane riding Ted

Easter Tournament 2013020413_130_Ted

Mark Caple won the Queen’s Jubilee Horn in 2014 riding Ted.


Meet the Horse: Patrick

Patrick (2)17HH Irish Sport Horse

The second of our coloured horses, though he couldn’t be more different with his long legs and hogged mane. You can see his sporty breeding from a mile away. With muscles designed for the hunting field, the short sprints needed for the joust are a breeze for this gentle giant.

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: Nicky Willis

Age: 45P1090613

Height: 1.85m (6’0)

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: Ben van Koert

non_armourAged: 35

Height: 167cm (5’4)

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 (6’1)

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

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.