London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

The Household Cavalry Museum ~ a hidden gem.

Horse GuardsWhile almost all visitors to London and local residents alike have walked past Horse Guards and admired the staid demeanor of the cavalry soldiers on horseback, I am surprised how few are aware of the wonderful, but small, museum you can explore here.

Household Cavalry Museum 1

History:  The Household Cavalry was founded in 1661 by King Charles II and is split into two senior army regiments – the Life Guards and the Blues & Royals.  Soldiers from both regiments serve in one of the two Household Cavalry units – either the Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR), an armoured regiment, or the Mounted Regiment (HCMR), a more ceremonial regiment.  It is the latter that is stationed at Horse Guards, a building that also houses the Household Cavalry Museum, and was built in the 1750s.  More recently, the location served as the site of Beach Volleyball at the 2012 Olympics, an event I was fortunate to attend (the picture of the building was taken from the seating within the arena).

Household Cavalry Museum 3

The Museum:  The exhibits relate the story of the Household Cavalry and celebrate its long history – from its birth to the modern era, including recent service in Afghanistan.  One of the displays is a tribute to the members of the Royal Household Cavalry, Blues and Royals, who were targeted with an IRA car bomb in 1982 as they rode from their barracks to Buckingham Palace. Four soldiers died along with seven horses.  

Sefton (HCR Archives)

Sefton (HCR Archives)

One badly wounded horse, Sefton, became a symbol of resilience in the face of terrorism surviving hours of surgeries.  Only in May of this year (2013) was the perpetrator of the crime finally arrested (though now out on bail), bringing special significance to this exhibit.  Other displays include personal stories, information on training, and items from their archives.  Many items are interactive.  From within the museum you can view into the original 18th Century stables through a clear glass panel.  You can also try on clothing and helmets, or pick up a toy horse in the gift shop.

Household Cavalry Museum 5

Visiting:  If you have a group of people (10 min) you can arrange an evening visit which includes a glass of champagne to enjoy while visiting the museum.  See their website for details:

Open year round from 10-6 (10-5 Oct – Feb).  You can pre-buy tickets online or at the museum.  Plan on spending up to an hour here.  It is a small museum but there is plenty to see and read.  Tickets: Adults £6.00 (concessions available, as are family tickets).  You can usually find discount coupons online.

Note: Crowds at Horseguards tend to be largest around 11am (Changing of the Guard) and 4pm (Inspection of the Guard), though few seem to go into the museum.

Located at:  Horseguards, Whitehall, London SW1A 2AX

Closest tubes:  Westminster, Charing Cross & Embankment

10 comments on “The Household Cavalry Museum ~ a hidden gem.

  1. The Screen Siren
    August 2, 2013

    I’d never heard the story of Sefton- what a little survivor! Definitely on the list of museums to visit!

  2. Pete
    August 4, 2013

    Thanks for this. Will definitely put it on list for a visit

  3. rigmover
    August 5, 2013

    Great post, another one to add to the list.

      August 5, 2013

      Hopefully you get to take a few off the list every so often! Otherwise the list will be getting quite long. All the best, Ian

  4. dawndancers
    August 27, 2013

    And just when I though I’d seen every London museum! Another London trip excuse for me 🙂

      August 27, 2013

      I bet I have a few more London museums you haven’t been to 🙂 stay tuned. all the best, Ian.

  5. Abbs
    August 30, 2013

    A great little museum in the old building, there were 3 Household Cavalry Horses taking a break which was nice to see them through the glass. There is a video of the troops on operations abroad in their role as a tank regiment. There is also a small but good souvenir shop. I will definitely visit this museum again. It is a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, St James Park and Big Ben so it is in a good location for a day trip.

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