London Drum

Visit the Household Cavalry Museum’s Stables on Horse Guards Parade

Where? Household Cavalry Museum, Horse Guards Parade, Westminster · Web: householdcavalry.co.uk Opening times? 10 AM to 5 PM (Wed-Sun, Nov-Mar); Last entry 1 hour before closing Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £9.50; Children £7.50 (5-16); Infants free entry (under-5); Family ticket £25.00 Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is 45-60 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 88, 159 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Westminster Circle District Jubilee Other nearby stations: Charing Cross and Embankment Train fares

Craig’s review… If you put the Life Guards and Blues & Royals of the Household Cavalry together with the five Foot Guard regiments (Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards) then you get the entire Household Division, and that central building with the clock on top is its official headquarters.

Entrance to the Household Cavalry MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Entrance to the Household Cavalry Museum

But here’s where it gets a bit more complicated… because the Household Cavalry is also split between horses, armoured cars and tanks. The soldiers that we send into battle are from the Household Cavalry Regiment, and their beasts are of the mechanised variety. But when you’re taking photos of the mounted sentries in Whitehall you’re looking at soldiers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment – they’re the ones who provide the pageantry during big parades.

Inside the 18th-century horse stables

If you tell tourists that there’s a working stable five doors down from Downing Street then they’ll think that you’re a bit mad. Well, I’m not mad. (Well, actually, I am mad, but that’s not the point.) Even most of the locals don’t realise there’s an 18th-century stable down Whitehall.

If you’re lucky enough to catch the mounted sentries changing over shifts then you can watch them trot through the big black gate on the righthand side of the courtyard straight into the stables, and when you enter the museum you can see those exact same horses being groomed through a plate glass window.

View of the horse stables through the windowPhoto: Craig Cross
View of the horse stables through the window

It’s a bit like peering into a football changing room at half-time – you can see what’s going on behind the scenes. You can watch the soldiers hosing down the stalls, scraping out the grooves in the horse’s hooves, and scooping up big pitchforks of hay to fill up the feeders. Another guy is checking his gleaming gear for thumb smudges before he heaves it over his head. They’re all acting totally oblivious to the tourists taking photos of them, so I guess they must be used to it.

Soldiers’ uniforms that you can try onPhoto: Craig Cross
Soldiers’ uniforms that you can try on in the stables

They’ve pegged up some uniforms by the side and when you’ve finished looking through the window you can try on some yourself. I don’t think I’d fit into many of them, they’re more for the kids really (unless they’ve started signing up very short soldiers).

Exhibition on the Household Cavalry Regiments

The rest of the museum is just two rooms filled with military mementos: old medals and uniforms, saddles and swords, trumpets, tubas and bugles, cocked hats, plumed hats, and some dusty old muskets and guns. One of the cabinets explains in great detail which equipment they use to shine their shoes.

Exhibition of uniforms at the Household Cavalry MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Exhibition of uniforms at the Household Cavalry Museum

The division’s history dates back to the reign of Charles II so they’ve accumulated all sorts of historic objects. My favourite is the Earl of Uxbridge’s wooden leg which replaced the one he lost at Waterloo. The famous old story goes that a cannon ball smashed his knee to pieces whilst he was discussing battle plans with Wellington, prompting him to splutter bloodily through stiff upper lip: “By god sir, I’ve lost my leg!” To which Wellington matter-of-factly replied: “By god sir, so you have.”

Napoleonic cavalryman from the Battle of WaterlooPhoto: Craig Cross
Napoleonic cavalryman from the Battle of Waterloo

I was hoping to see something about Tommy Cooper because he used to be a Horse Guard, but nope… although they did have one of Jackie Charlton’s old football caps.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Guards’ Museum (walk it in 12 mins or travel from Westminster to St Jamess Park via tube); National Army Museum (take a tube journey from Westminster to Sloane Square) and Royal Mews (walk it in 18 mins or travel from Westminster to Victoria by tube). If you want to see the horses of the Household Cavalry in action then our daily parades page has information about the ceremony at Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards

London Squire bookThe owns londondrum.com and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon. This review was updated on

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Your comments and questions

Anthony Hello. What time does Changing the Guard start, and when should I arrive at the museum if I want to come out and see that as well, or is it better to visit the museum afterwards?

Craig Hi Anthony. If you want a good spot in the parade ground, at the front of the crowd, then I would get there around 10:20. But then you'll have around 30 minutes before anything happens. Check out my review for a full run-down of the times and best places to stand - londondrum.com/​events/​?p=15787 - That means you'll have to visit the museum afterwards because it doesn't even open until 10 AM. If you give it 60 minutes from 11:30 AM then you should be out by 12:30

Rene We came across the parade quite by accident whilst walking from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square and very much enjoyed that spectacle, not even realising that it was supposed to be happening. And then we popped into the museum afterwards which had a great little gift shop where we bought some presents. London is full of surprises!

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