Keeper of the Tower

From The Royal Armouries website:

A tradition of displaying British military strength by creating trophies from masses of weapons has long existed at the Tower. From about 1700 visitors to the Grand Storehouse were stopped in their tracks by John Harris’s stunning displays and models, including a serpent and a seven-headed hydra, which he created from a variety of weapons including muskets, pistols and swords.

A sight ‘no one ever beheld without Astonishment…
not to be matched perhaps in the world’.
William Maitland, 18th century antiquarian

Royal Armouries Head of Creative Programmes, Karen Whitting dreamed up the idea for the mighty beast, inspired by the small figures of a dragon and a hydra in the scale model of the Grand Storehouse. Working with the creative team at Haley Sharpe Design a concept drawing was produced which York-based Paragon Creative have brought wonderfully to life.

Building on the tradition of trophies of arms and armour created at the Tower of London from the late 17th century, this new dragon has been constructed using objects and materials that represent ten institutions which were housed in the Tower.


Ordnance Office – armour, swords, firearms and cannon to create the head, back and body, including 22 antique pistols, four swords, four rifles, two bronze cannon and 20 bayonets.

Menagerie – a cage for the ribcage

Prison – 30m of chain to create the tail

The Royal Mint – 2,000 gold and silver coins, representing the dragon’s fire plus 50 replica trial plates

Royal Observatory – 26 telescopes

Ordnance Survey – maps for wings

Record Office – scrolls for legs

Jewel House – 400 glass rubies

Constables – keys hanging around the neck

Royal Armouries – 8 breastplates, 6 muskets, 15 pollaxes, 10 mail shirts, 4 shields and bucklers

Our dragon is fittingly named Keeper, following a naming competition run in association with TV channel History™.

No of items used in total

Over 2,672 items including:

  • 8 breastplates
  • 6 muskets
  • 22 antique pistols
  • 40 shields and bucklers
  • 4 swords
  • 4 pairs of pauldrons
  • 4 pairs of gauntlets
  • 4 bronze mortars
  • 8 kettle helmets
  • 4 Enfield rifles
  • 2 bronze canons
  • 20 bayonets
  • 15 pollaxes
  • 10 mail vests
  • 4 horse shaffrons
  • 26 telescopes
  • 2,000 gold and silver coins
  • 30m of chain
  • 400 ‘rubies’
  • 1 replica Henry VIII necklace
  • 50 replica trial plates
  • 1 set of keys
  • Keeper of the Tower

    14 Comments CherryPie on Mar 5th 2015

    14 Responses to “My Name is Keeper”

    1. Ginnie says:

      The stats are mind-boggling, Cherry…and all to create this delightful piece of art.

    2. ....peter:) says:

      i wouldn’t touch any of the Keeper’s barrels Cherie… life’s too short:-)

    3. RP says:

      Impressive dragon.

    4. Amfortas says:

      I am the Keeper of the Holy Grail (and a fine Tavern) and frankly I look a bit like that too first thing in the morning.

      It is just magnificent.

      • CherryPie says:

        Being a fellow ‘Night Owl’ I suspect I look a bit like that first thing in the morning too. And if disturbed too much in my early morning coming to, I know I feel like that ;-)

        The artwork is as you say magnificent!

    5. Lotta says:

      Well guarded barrels Cheri :-)

    6. Ha ha.. It was so busy when I was there!
      Too many school kids… Ha ha. ;)

      • CherryPie says:

        It was busy when we were there, it was the 8th November and The Tower was full (due to the poppies in the moat). Luckily after queuing to get into this exhibition we were first up the stairs. The crowds were all behind us ;-)

    7. Astrid says:

      This is such a wonderful piece of art… LOL @ some of the comments :)