A New Chapter for Events Hosting at Royal Armouries

POSTED Friday, January 5, 2024

The Royal Armouries and New Dock Hall has been delivering perfect conferences and events for over 20-years. Following a spectacular £1.25M refurbishment the spectacular venue has renamed some of its conference and meetings spaces to reflect this fresh, contemporary look.

Location, Location, Location

Located in the idyllic waterside setting of Leeds Dock, less than a 10-minute walk from the train station (or 2-minute walk from the on-site car park) the Royal Armouries Conference and Events team have been delivering world-class facilities for high-profile exhibitions, conferences, award dinners, Christmas and New Year parties, and product launches in Leeds for over 20 years.

It's earned a reputation for great delivery and exceptional customer service due in no small part to the attention to detail of its talented team - from seamless booking and budget setting to wow-inspiring creative design and flawless operational delivery – the team of event experts are just a call, an email or a site visit away, happy to walk and talk customers through all of their conference and event needs.

Perfect Planning for Exhibitions and Conferences in Leeds 

A great event starts with a great plan and the team at Royal Armouries are on hand to talk clients through the detail to make sure their event gets off to a great start. With their vast expertise and experience they can advise on availability and dates with helpful tips (such as avoiding school holidays!).

A show round to the Royal Armouries is a great way to meet the team, test out the location and ease of travel. Leeds Dock is ten minutes from the train station and the on-site car park is next door to the venue so sustainable transport links are very easy to access at Royal Armouries. The team love show-rounds as it offers a good opportunity to understand clients’ aims and objectives for their event, available budget, any AV requirements and even talk through any special catering needs or themes.

Perfect Spaces in Perfect Places Whatever the Event

Understanding the type of event - be it a seminar, panel discussion, exhibition - will inform the best room set up, depending on the proposed event outcomes and levels of interaction, engagement, communication and collaboration.

The beauty of Royal Armouries and its multiple conference and events spaces means it has the ability to cater for every reiteration and audience size from an informal meeting space such as the stylish Hotot or Barton Suites for 20 people or the impressive auditoria of New Dock Hall and Royal Armouries Hall catering for up to 2,500 delegates.

So, a cabaret style for table interaction or boardroom for an executive get together, theatre style for larger groups or U-shaped for healthy debate, the conference and events team at Royal Armouries have the skills and expertise to take an event from initial call or site visit to exemplary delivery and excellent customer satisfaction, every time!

What’s in a Name?

As well as an elegant refurbishment of some of the conference spaces, the Royal Armouries has also refreshed some of its room names too. The new names shine light on contemporary heroines, previously hidden characters and some unsung heroes of the city’s past.

Hotot Suite (previously known as Education Room 2)

Welcome to the Hotot Suite. This versatile space is perfectly designed to accommodate smaller conferences and seminars and provides an ideal setting for gatherings of 30 (Board Room Style) to 60 (Theatre) or 100 people (Reception) depending on the room set-up.

But who or what is Hotot? According to Susannah Dobson’s Historical Anecdotes of Heraldry and Chivalry (1795) "a manuscript, written in the year 1390, by a monk, who was parson of Clapton, [says]... the father of Agnes Hotot... having a dispute with one Ringsdale, about the title to a piece of land, they agreed to meet on the disputed ground, and decide it by combat.”

Dobson’s account goes on to say “Hotot, on the day appointed was laid up with the gout, but his daughter Agnes, rather than he should lose the land, or suffer in his honor, [sic] armed herself cap-a-pee [sic], and mounted her father's steed, went and met Ringsdale, whom after a stubborn fight she dismounted; and when he was on the ground, she loosened her throat-latch, lifted up her helmet, and let down her hair about her shoulders, and discovered herself to be a woman.") Go Agnes!

Barton Suite (The Room formerly known as Education 1)

The Barton Suite has a similar set up to Hotot with the addition of data projector and screen if required. It’s new name comes British Artist Thomas Baines picture Barton Hottentot of the Kat River Levy c.1851-2): “Equipped with an obsolete Brown Bess, this soldier represents one of the indigenous South African auxiliaries who fought alongside the British in the 8th Frontier War.”

Pearl Suite (formerly known as The Wellington Suite)

The medium sized Pearl Suite (200 Reception & Theatre style, Cabaret 100, Boardroom 40) on the first floor of the museum is a very popular private dining space (168). With floor to ceiling windows and views of Leeds Dock, and its own bar area, t works well for smaller conferences, luncheons, business breakfasts, intimate banquets and Christmas parties. It lends itself really well to a break-out and networking space for exhibition and conferences, or catering for events using the Bury Theatre.

As well as benefiting from a recent makeover including elegant soft furnishings, contemporary tiling, lighting and tactile décor, it’s new name has moved away from the empirical overtones of Wellington to recognise a lesser-known, more modern heroine.

Pearl Witherington, (code names Marie and Pauline), was an agent in France for the UK’s clandestine Special Operation Executive (SEO) during the second world war. Part of her role was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied France, allying herself with French Resistance groups, supplying them with weapons and equipment parachuted from England.

A pioneer and shining example of innovation, resilience and determination, Witherington was the only woman to lead an SOE network comprising 2,000 fighters and associated resistance groups called maquis. She received an Order of the British Empire (OBE), the Legion of Honour and the Croix de Guerre in recognition of her service to the war effort.

New Dock Hall and the Royal Armouries Hall are the two largest conference and exhibition spaces at the Leeds-based venue. Both can host 1,000 theatre style, 1,500 reception style, or combined, a maximum 2,500 delegates. New Dock Hall has been completely refurbished in bright contemporary colours and tactile textures.

Over at Royal Armouries Hall, what was once The Churchill Suite, has had a glamorous makeover and turned into a friendly pub-like space, with images and posters of Leeds-based brands. This quirky space has also had a name-change to recognise a lesser-known local hero.

Vera Suite (AKA Churchill Suite)

Leeds-born Vera Leigh was abandoned as a baby and adopted by Eugene Leigh, an American racehorse trainer married to an English woman. After leaving college Vera went to work as a dress designer at the fashion house of Caroline Reboux and in 1927 went into partnership with two friends to establish Rose Valois.

When war broke out she became involved with the Resistance and underground escape lines guiding fugitive Allied servicemen out of the country. In 1942 she took the same route out of France and when she arrived in England she volunteered to join the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and was recruited into SOE.

She landed on 13th May 1943 on a DZ just East of Tours in the Cher Valley in the early hours of the morning. After they were safely on the ground, Suttill (PROSPER) emerged from the shadows and boarded one of the homeward bound Lysanders, having been recalled to England to deliver a report. The newly arrived male agents cleared away the suitcases and departed on bicycles whilst Julienne and Vera walked 10km cross country to the railway station. They took the train to Paris the next morning and arrived safely.

Vera, known as Simone, was said to be ‘a very smart businesswoman’. Her cover story was that of a milliner’s assistant and her work involved acting as courier to the INVENTOR circuit (a sub circuit of PROSPER) and her main role was to carry messages from her organiser, Sidney Jones, to his various wireless operatives in and around the Paris area.

She carried out her work with diligence and was well respected amongst her colleagues, earning her ‘high praise from her superiors in the Resistance’. She was arrested meeting another agent at a café at the Place des Ternes on 30th October 1943, and imprisoned at Fresnes. In May 1944 Vera, with seven other SOE agents was transported to the Concentration Camp at Natzweller where they were executed.
Leigh posthumously received the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct and Ensign Leigh is listed on the Roll of Honour on the Valency SOE Memorial in the town of Valency, France. The Royal Armouries is proud to share her name and her bravery.

Talk to the Team About Your Event

The team is on hand to talk through all of your event requirements. As the largest dedicated conference, events and exhibition space in Leeds, with world-class facilities for high profile conferences, exhibitions, awards and corporate from 20 to 2,500 delegates, we’re sure we can help you with your request.

The Royal Armouries hosts more than 380 national and international events every year and is recognised for leading innovation, delivery excellence and exceptional customer service for over 20 years.

The venue is Greengage and Green Tourism Accredited and conducts sustainable principles throughout the whole operation. With stunning views of Leeds Dock and great local, regional, national and international transport links, and award-winning catering and audio-visual team, it’s the number one space for MICE professionals in the city of Leeds.

Still not sure? Contact the Royal Armouries Conference & Events Team on via email or call 0113 220 1990 for an informal chat.