ACTOR Robert Hardy is opening a permanent public exhibition of weaponry and armour in Stow dating back to the Civil War.

The actor, who is famous for playing Winston Churchill, the senior vet in All Creatures Great and Small and Cornelius Fudge from the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter films, will performing the opening ceremony on Thursday in St Edward's Hall, in the square, at 2.30pm.

He will be joined by members of the Sealed Knot society in Civil War dress along with Norman Goodman and David Glaisyer, who are descendants of the Roundhead and Cavalier commanders, who faced each other at the Battle of Stow.

Tim Norris, Chairman of the Stow Civic Society, said: "These weapons and armour help tell of some of the conflicts in our nation’s history, and in the story of Stow where the last battle of the first Civil War was fought in 1646.

"We’re very proud to be able to give the collection a safe home where the people of Stow and the many visitors to the town can admire it."

Stow acquired its valuable collection of muskets, pike staffs, breast-plates and other military paraphernalia in 1948 from a Captain Christie Crawfurd who visited the town with his wife in the 1930s.

When she became ill there he was so struck by the kindness of the people of Stow that he bequeathed to the town his collections of paintings and armaments.

People can view the pictures in St Edward’s Hall, but until now there has been no way of safely displaying the weaponry and armour.

The theft of two civil war helmets during Stow Festival in 2011 prompted the Stow and District Civic Society to take action.

By joining forces with the Arms and Armour Heritage Trust, the society has funded the construction of a large, secure museum display case to house the collection.