A PERMAMENT display of civil war weaponry and armour in Stow has been officially unveiled by the actor Robert Hardy.
The celebrated actor, who is famous for playing the senior vet in All Creatures Great and Small and Cornelius Fudge from the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter films, declared the display open to the public at a ceremony in St Edward's Hall yesterday (Thursday).
Mr Hardy, who is president of the National Battlefields Trust and an expert on medieval warfare, said he was "happy and proud" to open the exhibition, which is in the lobby of Stow’s library.
Flanked by members of the Sealed Knot and members of Stow Civic Society he also unveiled a plaque next to the display which includes several pieces of 17th century armour, a musket, two pike staffs and a gigantic broad sword.
"It's always been a joy to come to Stow," he said. "It's such a beautiful town. It's going to be a great thing to have this collection open to the public."
Stow acquired its valuable collection 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.
But 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, which donated a £5,000 grant, the society funded the construction of a large, secure museum display case to house the collection.
Tim Norris, Stow Civic Society chairman, said: "This is the first time for 50 years we've managed to have a permanent secure location to show off our wonderful collection of Civil and other wartime armour and armaments which has been locked away for a very many years.
"I think it's wonderful. It's what we've been striving for for a couple of years. It's a great day and it's great to have Robert to come and see it."