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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.6C-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Production: Unknown (Probable)




Breastplate with skirt, for field use. Formed of a medially-ridged main plate fitted with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, a separate waist-plate of deep-bellied form, and a skirt of two lames. The shallow neck-opening and the gussets are flanged outwards and decorated at their edges with roped turns. The main plate is pierced at the right armpit with a later pair of vertically-aligned holes for the attachment of a lance-rest. The gussets are secured to the main plate by modern, brass-capped round-headed rivets with square, internal washers at their upper and lower ends. Those at the upper end originally moved within diagonal slots. The top of the right gusset, however, has broken away through the slot, and the rivet that occupied the slot has now been moved downwards into new holes pierced just below it in the main plate and the gusset. The original rivet-hole in the main plate has therefore been plugged. Attached at each shoulder of the main plate by a brass-capped, round-headed rivet with a square internal washer is a modern, single-ended, tongued, iron buckle with a plain, rectangular loop. The right buckle is retained by an external hasp of iron with an obtusely-pointed end, and the left buckle by an internal leather loop. The rivets that attach the present buckles occupy holes situated above earlier holes that may have served to attach the original buckles. Overlapping the lower edge of the main plate, and attached to it by a modern brass-capped rivet with a square internal washer at either side, and a modern internal leather at the centre, is a waist-plate of deep-bellied form. The leather is attached to the main plate by a pair of externally-flush rivets, and to the waist-plate by a single externally-flush rivet. The lower edge of the waist-plate is flanged outwards to receive a skirt of two upward overlapping lames. The lower edge of the second lame is cut with a shallow arch over the crotch. The edge of the arch has a plain inward turn accompanied by a raised border that narrows to its outer ends. The workmanship of the arch suggests that it represents a modern alteration. The lames are connected to one another and to the flange of the waist-plate at their outer ends by modern copper-capped rivets with square or polygonal internal washers. Three such rivets and washers, at either side of the upper edge of the second lame, serve to retain modern leather straps for the attachment of tassets. The outer of the rivets are those that also connect the lames to one another. Three rivet-holes at each side of the lower edge of the second lame, aligning with the present straps, may have served to secure earlier straps.
The edges of the arm-openings of the main plate, and the upper edges of the waist-plate and the skirt-lames are scalloped. The main plate and waist-plate are decorated medially with a recessed band that widens towards the shoulders at its upper end. The centre of the band is decorated with a file-roped rib that extends from just above the waist to the bottom of the chest. Part of the composite three-quarter armour HEN.M.6A-G-1933


History note: Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 21.1 cm
Height: 56.1 cm
Weight: 2.72 kg
Width: 38.8 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


16th Century, Mid#
Circa 1550 - 1560


The breastplate is bright with a medium patination overall.

Components of the work

Round Head Rivets composed of brass (alloy) ( caps)
Rivets Caps composed of copper ( modern)
Buckle, Hasp composed of iron (metal)
Leathers, Straps composed of leather
Main Plate

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Formed of a medially-ridged main plate fitted with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, a separate waist-plate of deep-bellied form, and a skirt of two lames; hammered, shaped, riveted, decorated with file-roping and scalloping

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.6C-1933
Primary reference Number: 17739
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 14 September 2022 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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