The Guards Museum is located within Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk just down the street from Buckingham Palace. This small museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Foot Guards: five regiments that, along with two regiments of the Household Cavalry, comprise His Majesty’s Household Division. The museum’s permanent collection contains historic uniforms, equipment, documents, and more.
History of The Guards Museum
The Foot Guards today consist of the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, and Welsh Guards; together with two regiments of the Household Cavalry, they make up the British Army’s Household Division, a military unit tasked with serving the monarch by performing public duties and state ceremonies throughout London. The oldest of these regiments was founded in 1642 and fought during the English Civil War. The Foot Guards have been assigned the honor of protecting the royal family and its palaces since 1660.
The Guards Museum was established near the end of the twentieth century as a place of safekeeping for the many historic items accrued by the Foot Guards throughout their approximately 400 years of service. This impressive permanent collection is maintained for the express purpose of functioning as an educational resource for young guardsmembers to learn about the heritage of these special regiments.
The Guards Museum Highlights
The permanent collection of The Guards Museum charts the evolution of the Foot Guards from their English Civil War-era origins to their present-day projects, which include everything from ceremonial duties in London to NATO-aligned peacekeeping efforts all across the globe. These changes are witnessed throughout the many historic uniforms, photographs, and pieces of equipment on display here.
The Guards Museum also stages temporary exhibitions throughout the year on a host of special topics, themes, and events. These temporary shows allow the museum to highlight different components of the permanent collection that might otherwise want for attention. For additional information on what sort of temporary exhibition might be showing when you’re planning to visit, be sure and check out the museum’s official website.
Those visitors with a particular passion for the public duties of British military personnel will want to make certain to pair a stop at The Guards Museum with a trip to the Household Cavalry Museum. Located within Horse Guards, amid the hustle and bustle of Westminster, the Household Cavalry Museum is where you can actually view the iconic changing of the guards that you’ll read about throughout The Guards Museum. The Household Cavalry Museum is a 15-minute-walk from here, on the other side of St. James’s Park.
More to See and Do at The Guards Museum
Other things worth knowing about The Guards Museum experience include the following items.
*The Guards Museum is open seven days a week between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm, with final admission permitted at 3:30pm. Having said that, it’s important to keep in mind that the museum is frequently closed for national holidays, special occasions, and ceremonial events. When in doubt, check the museum’s official website in advance of your visit for the most up-to-date information.
*An approximately 90-minute guided tour of the museum is available; however, this experience must be booked in advance and is typically only offered for groups of 10 or more visitors. If you’re traveling with a sizable contingent of family or friends, though, it’s something to keep in mind.
*Be advised that the museum does not have restrooms. The nearest restroom facilities are located five minutes away in St. James’s Park.
Why The Guards Museum Should Be on Your Must-See List
The Guards Museum occupies a remarkable location in the heart of historic London, right in the midst of numerous other popular attractions like Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Jewel Tower, Wellington Arch, and The Royal Mews, just to name a few. If you’re excited to see one or more of these nearby attractions and you’re curious to learn more about an oft-overlooked aspect of Britian’s long military history, this small museum makes for an educational spot to fill an hour.