In the heart of London there is a weapons and armor collection, the work of two eccentric Victorian aristocrats. The collection is housed inside the Herford House, a grand 18th-century townhouse.
The Fourth Marquess of Hertford began the collection in the 19th century. The Marquess was an obsessive collector of Asian and European medieval weaponry. After his death in 1870, his illegitimate and equally eccentric son, Sir Richard Wallace, inherited and expanded the collection.
Wallace attended auctions and made trips to France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe to expand the armor and weapon collection. Along with medieval European armor, Wallace collected armor from Mughal India, the Ottoman empire, medieval Persia and Arabia, and feudal Japan.
When Wallace died in 1897, his widow donated the family’s collection, including the enormous armory, to the nation of Great Britain and the building eventually became a museum open to the public in 1900.
Know Before You Go
The Wallace Collection is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. There is no admittance fee.
Be sure to check in advance for scheduled lectures and tours of the armory.