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This review originally appeared in his London blog
The Household Cavalry Museum must be the smallest museum I’ve visited in London. It’s just three big rooms plus a window that looks out into the stables. That’s about it.
The best bit is actually outside, where all the tourists line up to take a photo of the sentry boxes. You’ll find some mounted soldiers on the Whitehall side, and a couple of Foot Guards underneath the arches. The guys I saw today only looked about 12 years old (or maybe it’s just me getting old) – and I’m not even joking. His sword was longer than his legs!
The little Japanese girls all giggling for a photo even blew him a few kisses which must have been embarassing as hell for him. He just had to stand there and take it, in immobile silence. He’s not even allowed to move, ha ha. I’m sure he must have been tempted to swipe his sword out and bully them back, but he showed remarkable restraint. What’s the point of giving him all those weapons if he can’t test them out on the tourists?
The main entrance is not actually on the Whitehall side – you have to go head through the central arch into Horse Guards parade ground. Once you make it through the front door you suddenly realise that it’s a working stables. So the government buildings around the edge of Horse Guards are home to the Prime Minister on the right, the bureaucrats on the left, and a load of military horses in the middle. They even let you look through a plate-glass window into the actual stables themselves, so you can see the soldiers mucking them out.
The exhibition is interesting enough if you’re into military history, but there’s not a lot of it. They’ve got a colourful collection of uniforms that date all the way back to Waterloo. And there are bazillions of silver swords, trumpets and buttons.
There are a few videos dotted around which explain the Household Cavalry’s role in all the pomp and pageantry parades in London, and another cabinet explains in great detail what equipment they require to shine their shoes. If that sounds exciting to you, then give it a go.
> Read Craig’s latest review of the Household Cavalry Museum “If I told you that there’s a museum 500 feet from Downing Street with some horses and a stable inside, then you’d probably think that I was mad. Well, I’m not mad. (Well actually, I am mad – but that’s beside the point.) Even most of the locals don’t realise that there’s an 18th-century stable down Whitehall. They all know where Horse Guards is, but they rarely stop to think who the actual ’horse guards’ are – they’re soldiers from the Household Cavalry, made up of two different regiments: the Life Guards and Blues & Royals. The mounted sentries that occupy the horse boxes are from the Household Cavalry. If you’re lucky enough to see them change over shifts then you can stand there and watch… continued.”
> Read Craig’s review of Changing the Guard at Horse Guards “Not a lot of tourists know about the Changing the Guard ceremony at Horse Guards which is a shame, because in some respects it’s better than the one at Buckingham Palace. But I don’t mean better as in better better – the one at Buckingham Palace is definitely better. The backdrop is better, the crowds are bigger, and you get some marching bands as well. But if you’ve got some little kids with you, or you’re trying to cram as many attractions as you can into a very short stay, then it’s worth thinking about Horse Guards because you don’t have to turn up two hours early. The only downside is that the action takes place in two different locations, so wherever you decide to stand you’re going to miss half of it. If you take my advice then you’ll stand in the parade ground… continued.”
> Read Craig’s review of the Dismounting Ceremony “You’ve done Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace… posed for a photo outside Horse Guards… seen the Ceremony of the Keys and Remembrance Day Parade… tried Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament… so what have got left? Well, you’ve forgotten this one (everybody forgets this one). This is the Dismounting Ceremony, or 4 O’Clock Parade. Compared with the other daily ceremonies this one is just a sideshow. It’s extremely short and not a lot happens, but it’s quite handy if you’ve done all your sightseeing for the day and just need to fill up a quick thirty minutes before dinner. You can slip it in between your sightseeing and a show. It takes place behind those horse… continued.”
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You might also enjoy the Guards’ Museum at Wellington Barracks, which tells the story of the Foot Guards. The National Army Museum is worth a try as well (the Imperial War Museum concentrates on modern-day warfare). If you want to see the horses of the Household Cavalry in action then our guide to daily parades in London has info about the parade at Buckingham Palace and parade at Horse Guards.
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