Armoury in Action at the Tower of London
Reviewed for What To Do With The Kids: by Poppy Pickles
What To Do With The Kids were invited to 'Armoury in Action: a new family friendly exhibition at the Tower of London' - with a bonus skating session on the Tower of London Ice Rink too.
Reviewer Poppy Pickles went to see it with her husband, daughter (aged 9)and daughter's best friend (also aged 9).
Our first port of call was the Tower of London Ice Rink, set in the moat with the impressive tower walls as a backdrop. My husband opted to hold the bags while me and the girls took to the ice. Being a little nervous, the girls had friendly penguins to give them confidence, and after a bit of encouragement, they had a wonderful time - not wanting to come off after the allotted 45 minutes was up. The rink did get a little crowded, but the music was great, the staff in the ice skates area were efficient and friendly, and the hot chocolate with squirty cream and marshmallows at the end was the cherry on the cake.
The Armoury in Action exhibition is a hands-on, interactive introduction to weapons and armour throughout the ages. It's set in one (large) room at the very top of the imposing White Tower in the centre of the Tower of London. By the time we'd made our way up there, we'd already taken in the impressive collection amassed by the Tower of London over the centuries; a particular highlight being Henry VIII's suit of armour.
However, as most of the exhibits up to that point had been set behind plexi-glass, we were excited to get involved. I had been slightly concerned that two 9 year old girls would find the subject boring, but I needn't have feared, as they immediately got stuck in. Their favourite exhibits were a 'fire-it-yourself' cannon, where you had to pull a series of levers before you then got to press the button and 'fire' a virtual hole in a wall. They also loved the medieval longbow booth, which cleverly had two strings to pull back and fire, one at child height, the other at adult height.
However, the 'dress Henry VIII in his armour' touch-screen game was a little slow to react, and this put the girls off, although it was interesting to find out the names of the individual pieces of armour. The 'design your own musket' exhibit was out of order which was disappointing and the Napoleonic cavalry training practice was also made virtually unplayable due to software glitches.
The overall verdict from both the children and the adults was that the Armoury in Action exhibition is well worth a visit, as it brings to life a range of weapons spanning hundreds of years. We felt that once the technical issues are ironed out, it will keep both adults and kids (of both genders) happy and enlightened.
I would say though that it is definitely aimed at school-age children and wouldn't really work for little ones.
To Book Tickets:
Tower of London Ice Rink: www.toweroflondonicerink.co.uk
Armoury in Action Exhibition: http://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/visit-us/#gs.Umy5Kh8