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THE HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY -

HORSE GUARDS & BARRACKS

IN LONDON AND WINDSOR

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Some Historic Images
of Hyde Park Barracks
The Garrison Church, Windsor

INTRODUCTION

During the reign of Charles II, The Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards
— along with some of the Foot Guards — had accommodation provided
in a number of the Royal Palaces, or in the more important garrisons.

Notable ones were at the Tower Of London (which was once a Royal Palace)
in the late 1660s; during the great plague in 1665; and temporary "barracks"
accommodation in Hyde Park.

Indeed, the word "barracks" - used to describe accommodation for the
military - seems to have been used for the first time round about 1670, in
describing the (then) completed accommodation in the Tower Of London.

Prior to that, in 1664, there is evidence of Horse Guards close to the Palace
Of Westminster, St James' Palace, Somerset House, Kensington Palace, Savoy
Palace, Tower Of London, and — some years later — at Hampton Court.

At other times, as and when circumstances required, extra troops were provided
with billets in camps in some of the Royal Parks.

Today, the Household Cavalry is accommodated at:

Combermere Barracks, Windsor

Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge, London

Horse Guards, Whitehall, London

. . . and don't forget the . . .

Household Cavalry Museum

The Household Cavalry Museum is at Horse Guards, Whitehall, London.
The Household Cavalry Museum Archive is based in Windsor.


W ant to become a "Friend of the Household Cavalry Museum"?
Wish to be a little more informed and involved with the Household Cavalry?
Then just click on the link below for an Application (and Gift Aid) form:

FRIEND

Household Cavalry Museum Archive

The Household Cavalry Museum Archive, at Combermere Barracks,
is not only the repository for Regimental records, but also home to
a great many artefacts — old, and not so old — such as this model
of a Chinook helicopter (donated by a former soldier who served
with The Blues And Royals). It does everything but fly!

A Chinook lands at the Museum Archive

Major (Ret'd) Paul Stretton (left) receives the Chinook from
John Hamilton-Fford (formerly The Blues And Royals).

The Life Guards Mounted Squadrons On Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards, Whitehall

In the 1660s, there was a Horse Guards building, but not the present one.

Horse Guards occupies the site where, in 1533, King Henry VIII commissioned
the construction of a Tiltyard - between what was the Royal Palace of Whitehall,
and St James's Park - later used by Queen Elizabeth I on which to stage two
annual festivals, one on the anniversary of her accession, and the other on her
birthday (today known as "Trooping Of The Colour").

In 1641, Charles I ordered his Surveyor of Works to build ". . . a Court of Guards
in the Tiltyard before Whitehall" to accommodate his personal guards, and a
military force to protect the Palace.

It was too late as, by the end of January 1642, Charles had fled to Oxford, and the
area had been taken over by the Parliamentarians.

Seven years later, Charles I was taken from St James's, across the Park, and through
the Tiltyard, to his execution outside the Banqueting House on 30 January 1649.

Horse Guards as it now is, situated opposite the old War Office, was sanctioned by
George II in 1745, designed by William Kent, and built over a ten-year period, to
replace the original which was deteriorating.


When rebuilt, the centre section of Horse Guards, over the archway, held the court-
martial office, a chapel, and military offices.

There was stabling for The Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards, on the ground
floor, and around the courtyard were other rooms.

The building still functions today as a brigade headquarters.

As today, there were two sentry boxes on the Whitehall side for sentries of the
Household Cavalry to guard the Palace gate opposite, as well as Horse Guards
itself.

Horse Guards fronts Horse Guards Parade, the vast parade ground where The
Queen takes the salute at the Trooping Of The Colour ceremony on her official
birthday.


It is the Headquarters of the General Officer Commanding London District, and
the Headquarters of The Household Cavalry -there has been a mounted guard at
Horse Guards every day since 1751.

The present occupant of the historic Levee Room, over the Archway, is the
is the Major General Commanding The Household Division.

Each day of the year, at 11.00 a.m. (on Sundays at 10.00 a.m.), The Queen's
Life Guard is changed at Horse Guards.

It is provided, on alternate days, by The Life Guards and The Blues And Royals,
the two Regiments which make up The Household Cavalry.

There are two types of Queen's Life Guard — a Long Guard (mounted when
The Queen is resident in London), and a Short Guard (mounted when The Queen
is not resident in London).

In addition, there is a Four o'clock Parade each day, for which the Captain of
The Queen's Life Guard (Long Guard), or the Orderly (Duty) Officer from
Hyde Park Barracks (Short Guard) inspects The Queen's Life Guard.

Long Guard
The Long Guard comprises: an Officer, a Corporal Major carrying The Standard,
a Corporal of Horse, a junior NCO, a Trumpeter, 11 Troopers, and a Stableman.

Short Guard
The Short Guard comprises: a Corporal of Horse, a junior NCO, and 10 Troopers.

Should The Queen leave the Palace while the Guard is mounted, or having been
away return to the Palace while a Guard is mounted, the composition of The Guard
changes accordingly — it must "make up" or "make down" to suit.

Also, the Royal Standard flies from the top of Buckingham Palace when The Queen
is in residence.

The Queen's Life Guard at Horse Guards
— Some Historic Images
Changing The Queen's Life Guard

The 4 O'Clock Inspection

Above: Four o'Clock Inspection.

Left: A change in the weather since
Queen's Life Guard was mounted
has led to cloaks being worn.

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Almost Ready For The Queen's Birthday Parade

Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge

Hyde Park Barracks is situated at the edge of Hyde Park, in the heart of
London's shopping mecca, Knightsbridge.

It is home to men (and their families) and horses of the Household Cavalry
Mounted Regiment, which provides Sovereign's Escorts, and Queen's Life
Guard, as well as men (and horses) for many other state and civic functions.

Around 1661/62 "stabling" was provided in Leicester Fields and Hyde Park
(origin of the barrracks in Knightsbridge), and around twenty years later,
Life Guards and Horse Grenadiers had their headquarters in the Royal Mews,
Charing Cross (on the site of what is now the National Gallery).

Late in 1793, 1st and 2nd Life Troops of The Life Guards were occupying
new barracks — designed by James Johnson — built on a strip of land
between Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, thought to be the first cavalry
barracks in Britain.


The parade ground was small and damp, and very little sunlight found its
way in — making life more challenging than normal.

Officers' quarters were also incorporated within the barracks.

In 1878, the Hyde Park Barracks were rebuilt, with taller buildings
compensating for the lack of ground area.

The 1st and 2nd Life Guards occupied the barracks in 1880, but in the late
1960s there came another rebuild — by Sir Basil Spence — which introduced
tower blocks in order to optimise the available space.

The entrance "pediment" to the present barracks came from the riding school
of the 1880 barracks.

The Pedimente, Hyde Park Barracks

The stables (refurbished 2005/2006) are located on two levels, in order to
capitalise on the available space, with two ramps — one up, and one down
— leading to the parade ground.

Coils are embedded in the concrete ramps, which can be heated in cold weather,
thus keeping the surfaces free of ice which could cause horses to slip and fall.

Today, Hyde Park Barracks is home to some 300 Officers and soldiers — and
almost as many horses — of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

Historic Images Of (And In) Hyde Park Barracks

The following selection of photographs gives some idea as to how things once were
at Knightsbridge - conditions, facilities and space seemed more generous at Hyde
Park Barracks in those days!

Old Image Of The OOfficers' Mess

One-time Officers' Quarters, Knightsbridge

Old Image Of Hyde Park Barracks

Former Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge

Mounted Dutymen In Front Of The Old Barrack Buildings

The old barracks were impressive

Preparing To Mount Up For Duty

Time to mount up!

Who's Next For A Trough Bath?

'Who's next for a bath?'

Busy Scene In The Old Barracks

The surroundings look unfamiliar!


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Combermere Barracks, Windsor

Main Gates, Combermere Barracks, Windsor

Combermere Barracks, comprising over twenty acres - within a mile of Windsor Castle,
in Berkshire - is the home of the Household Cavalry Regiment.

The barracks date back to 1804, from which time it has probably always been the
quarters of the Household Cavalry.

In 1953, there began a programme of redevelopment, which lasted for some ten years,
during which the accommodation for men, horses, and vehicles was modernised.

Some specific buildings are of later development - the Riding School (dating from 1881),
the LAD buildings, and the Quarter Master (Tech) buildings - being updated in the 1970s.

Latterly, a gymnasium has been completed, and 2006 saw work well under way into
bringing the accommodation buildings up to the standards required today.

The situation was very different in the 1660s, when men and horses were billeted
around the many inns, taverns, and ale-houses — in areas as far afield as Egham,
Staines, and Chertsey — with an inlying picquet based in the nearest inns to
Windsor Castle.

For many years two Corporals of Horse, on court duty to the Castle, were billeted
regularly either in the "White Hart" or the "Castle Hotel".

Note: See footnote re Lord Combermere at bottom of page.

Household Cavalry Memorial, Combermere Barracks

The Household Cavalry Regiment
Memorial, in Combermere Barracks

Household Cavalry Memorial, Combermere Barracks

Close-up of the Household Cavalry Regiment
Memorial - a magnificent tribute

Potential recruits to the Household Cavalry should not be put off by what they
see on so-called reality shows on television — modern Army accommodation
may be better than you think!

The pictures below — of some of the accommodation buildings at Combermere
Barracks, Windsor (including some interior views) — give a taster of what new
recruits can expect.

Washroom Facilities At Windsor

Facilities are modern, clean,
tasteful and hygienic

Laundry Facilities At Windsor

Excellent laundering

Trainee's Quarters, Windsor

Smart, comfortable quarters
await new recruits

Soldiers' Accommodation, Windsor

Soldiers' accommodation, Windsor

Soldiers' Accommodation, Windsor

More views of the accommodation

HCR HQ Sign, Windsor
Soldiers' Accommodation, Windsor

"Home Sweet Home"

HCR Squadrons Sign, Windsor

WOs & NCOs Mess, Windsor

Entrance to the WOs & NCOs Mess, Combermere Barracks

The Garrison Church, Windsor

            

Holy Trinity Church, at the junction of Claremont Road and Trinity Place in Windsor, is steeped in military history,
with Household Cavalry and Foot Guards Regiments featuring extensively in the many memorials within the church.
The Household Cavalry are well represented in the historic image (above) of a service in the church.

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Footnote

Lord Combermere was a very able cavalry commander in charge of Wellington's
cavalry in the Peninsula from 1810 onwards.

He was Sir Stapleton Cotton in those days, and had served in the Light Cavalry,
gaining experience in the Nederlands, the Cape, and India.

He gained distinction at the battle of Salamanca in 1812, and the Siege of Bhurtpore
in 1826.

He held the post of Colonel of the 1st Life Guards (Gold Stick) for 36 years, from
September 1829 to February 1865.

Household Cavalry Museum, Horse Guards

Household Cavalry Museum, Horse Guards

For years, Combermere Barracks (in Windsor) was home to the priceless and
irreplaceable objects that together record the long, proud and honourable
history of the Household Cavalry.

June 2007 saw the opening, by HM The Queen, Colonel in Chief of the Regiment,
of the brand new, purpose-built museum at Horse Guards.

The new museum allows for much more material to be on view, displayed in ideal
conditions, and available to a larger audience than has hitherto been possible.

Note that there is still a section of the Household Cavalry Museum
(the Archives section) situated in Combermere Barracks, Windsor

Statue Reflecte In Museum Windows

Anyone visiting London should do three things before leaving:

1. Watch the Changing of The Queen's Life Guard

2. Visit the Household Cavalry Museum

3. Come back and repeat the exercise

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