On my endless search to dodge crowds when out discovering the city I’ve come across some absolute gems. The latest of my finds is the Household Cavalry Museum. It isn’t hidden at all though, in fact is it in one of the busiest tourist areas. You will always find crowds around the corner from the museum entrance at horses guard parade
aggravating the horses trying for a perfect photo op with the guards on their horses.
Despite the crowds being so near for some reason the museum doesn’t draw them inside. It was almost deserted when I visited with D near the end of last summer and while not great for the museum’s longevity I loved it. It is a niche museum that isn’t free and with the free National Gallery and National Portrait Galley at a stone throw’s distance it is understandable but I urge you all to visit.
The museum takes you behind the scenes of the world’s most famous and instantly recognizable soldiers. While they are typically known for their ceremonial duties like Trooping the Colour they are first and foremost soldiers with many having served recently on operations overseas as did their forebears did for over 300 years.
The museum which opened in 2007 was created by converting former eighteenth century stables within the Horse Guards. The rest of the building is a functioning military headquarters. The first part of the museum has the original cobbled stones and although uneven and a slight trip hazard it adds to the overall character of the museum.
The second part of the museum used to be part of the working Queen’s Life Guard stables. A full height glass screen allows visitors to see the other side of the working stables. It was pretty cool to see the inner workings through the glass as guards switched posts and the horses are tended to. On the visitor side the stable is intact. The final area of the museum details more of the guard’s battle history.
Historically one of the principle functions has been to serve as the bodyguard to the Monarch and members of the Royal Family. Today protection is provided to the Queen on a daily basis by the Queen’s Life Guards.
During ceremony they escort the Monarch and play a key role in both the security and pageantry surrounding public events. While there is no doubt their uniforms are a spectacle for viewers their practical demonstration of unified discipline and horsemanship are expressing the symbolic stature and standard of the Monarchy.
This is a small museum but well worth the £7 entry fee. Visitors learn about recruitment and the training the guards endure, the evolution of the uniforms they wear, and battles they’ve been involved in. I had a few reservations before going but I found it all fascinating. Also bonus, the gift store has a good selection and you can get some nice and reasonably priced keepsakes here.
10am-6pm April to October
10am-5pm November to March
(except July 20th and 24-26th December)