Open coach of English work of the late 16th century is the oldest equipage of the Armoury Chamber and the only one of such type survived in the world. The researchers with one accord attributethis ancient equipage to the masterpieces of world’s culture.

Its large, almost rectangular body is suspended on leather belts and closed with curtains. It still does not have an axle-pivot, crane-neck, springs, seat for the driver and footboards.

The coach is decorated with carving and painting, some details are made as carved sculpture. Artistically it belongs to the late Renaissance. Painted in red-green colour range, the high-relief multi-figured compositions depict hunting scenes and a battle between Christians and Muslims. They cover the lower section of the coach: its side, back and front walls. The carved stories reflect complicated relations between European countries and Turkey.

The first row of the body is decorated with painted sceneries of parks and buildings, the second row – with hunting scenes. The master’s talent is seen in the selection of a subtle colour range based on a combination of gentle pale blues, pinks and the dense green of the flowers. The painting is probably made by an unknown Italian artist of the late 16th century. The body inside is upholstered in red and yellow Italian patterned velvet of the second half of the 17th century. Deep soft armchair at the back wall of the body and wide bench are upholstered in Italian velvet of the 17th century with prevailing light-blue tone in ornament. The front and back parts of the undercarriage are decorated with gilded bas-relief and sculpture in the form of allegoric figures notable by the delicate work and elegant pattern of floral ornament. Both parts of the undercarriage include gilded openwork iron décor. The equipage wheels are completely covered with gilded relief carving that differs from other decorative elements. This can be explained by the lower date of their production – second half of the 17th century. There are different opinions regarding the attribution of the coach. Its English origin is without doubt and confirmed by numerous documents from the Armoury Chamber archives. It is more complicated to define the time of its production. Some researchers attribute it to the late 16th century (A.F. Weltman, A.F. Malinovsky, P.I. Savvaitov), others date it back to the 1620s (G. Kraisel). There is also a version that the coach was brought to Russia among the diplomatic gifts only after the friendly relations with England had been resumed not earlier than the late first quarter of the 17th century.

Construction, technical and artistic decisions of the equipage speak well for the 16th century. Besides, the relations between England and Russia were more friendly under the rule of Boris Godunov rather than Mikhail Romanov. Two gilded bas-reliefs with the Russian coat of arms of Godunov’s times on the frame of the undercarriage prove the earlier origin of the equipage. Figures on the coat of arms are made according to the West European tradition, which implies that the carriage was meant for export. Probably, it was made especially as a gift for Russia, an important trade partner. Among the gifts brought by Sir Thomas Smith in 1604 from King James I and Queen Anne of England, there was an equipage upholstered in velvet. It can be identified as the coach from the Armoury Chamber. Its strongly marked representational character proves that it was meant as a diplomatic gift. 

A 17th-century Stables Treasury inventory says that the coach was rebuilt in Moscow to receive a Polish embassy in 1678.

According to the archive documents, the coach had been used up to the end of the 17th century by Tsars Mikhail Fyodorovich and Alexey Mikhailovich.

 * ‘kolymaga’ is a word of Turkish origin, which means ‘a large wagon'. To drive this equipage, the driver must have walked by it or rode on one of the leading horses. Large space was necessary to turn the kolymaga around and the back wheels were to be lifted manually. For these reasons, the journey took too much time.