Freelance writer and wanderer always on the lookout for quirky activities that take you off the beaten track.
Published April 19th 2011
There is nothing more distinctively British than the bearskin hat-wearing gentlemen who stand at attention in front of Buckingham Palace. But if fighting with the crowds to take a peek at them through the thick gates isn't quite enough or merely whets your appetite for more information, then head on down to The Guards Museum to learn the story of the five Foot Guard Regiments of the Household Division. The Guards Museum is one of many essential London attractions for those fascinated by London's royal or military history.
Located at Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Road, the museum displays the proud history of the Welsh, Scots and Irish Guards, the Coldstream Guards and the Grenadier Guards. There is a wealth of information at hand about those that have the responsibility of protecting London, for the Queen's military security and for ceremonial duties in London.
Spanning from the 17th century origins of the Guards through to the modern day the exhibits are all contained in floor to ceiling glass cabinets. There are also many low level exhibits which are perfect for younger visitors. You can expect to see weapons, paintings and sculptures that depict the various battles that have involved the regiments throughout history and marching music that the guards parade to. The chronicles of the evolving dress of the various regiments is definitely a highlight and includes uniforms worn by famous Dukes and even the Royal Family themselves. You may also be lucky enough to have the opportunity to dress up in a real Guardsman's tunic and Bearskin and have your picture taken.
At 10:50am every day from April through to August you can see the actual Guards entering formation outside the Museum in preparation for their march up to St. James Palace and Buckingham Palace for the changing of the Guard. For some more 'live' entertainment check out the Guards Chapel where Sunday Services are open to the public. The service is accompanied by a choir and the band of one of the regiments of the Household Division.
The Guards Museum, like most in London, has a great little gift shop featuring your typical souvenirs and memorabilia. However what really makes the shop stand out is the huge range of model soldiers for purchase. It really is a collector's paradise!