We set off bright and early for the run into Leeds, but were stalled at the first gate, Woodlesford Lock. “There’s trouble at t’sluice,” the Canal and River Trust man tells me, “But it ain’t bad.” We had time to look around the lock while he worked on it. It’s a contender in the Best Kept Lock competition, with flower beds sponsored by local businesses, a community orchard, deer statues, and a bug hotel.
Also a tuxedo cat, because cat pictures.
We were sharing locks with a boat called Festina Lente, which is Latin for, “I can’t believe how slowly we are going.” Most of the locks are electric, but the last one is manual. According to Pearson’s Canal Guide, it requires “Herculean Effort”, so I let Paula do it. We moored up at Granary Wharf in the heart of the city.
There’s a free water taxi service from Granary Wharf to the Royal Armouries Museum at Leeds Dock, so after lunch we hopped onto that. On the way we passed the bridge where the first ever movie was filmed, in 1888.
Louis Le Prince, who was working at an engineering firm in Leeds, was the inventor of the first single lens movie camera. He disappeared under mysterious circumstances two years later, and Hollywood rather than Leeds become the center of the movie industry. The world has been deprived of such masterpieces as ‘Ooam A Sen, T’Soun’ O’Music, and Gone Wi’ T’Wind. His wife blamed rival inventor Thomas Edison for his disappearance, but I suspect it was a time traveler trying to prevent Star Wars: T’Phantamenace.
The Royal Armouries Museum has got everything from pikes to police helmets, but we spent a lot of time in the hall devoted to fancy armour that was used in tournaments. They have a helmet with a mustache…
… and a jester’s helmet with horns, glasses, and…
… a runny nose.
This suit of armour was built for Henry VIII, who was terribly fond of tournaments and apparently terribly good at them, but hey, who’s going to go full force against a spoiled and brutal monarch? It would be like playing golf with Donald Trump. You really don’t want to win.
You’ll notice it has an enormous codpiece, to protect the crown jewels. I get the feeling that Henry VIII had small hands and insisted that the armourer overcompensate. As it happens Henry never wore that armour, and the codpiece wasn’t polished for hundreds of years. Three months before the tournament that it was prepared for, the rules governing tournament armour were changed, and Henry had to wear this suit instead.
So yeah, the King of England was planning to wear an enormous codpiece to the Tournament of the Field of Cloth of Gold, but ended up wearing a skirt.
Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I, did not wear armour, so she converted the Royal Armoury into a profit center by encouraging her courtiers to buy extravagant Royal Armoury Brand armour at extravagant prices. It’s good that modern rulers don’t abuse their power to sell branded goods in this way. Here’s a matching set of armour made for her favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and his favorite, who was apparently a horse.