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Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), A Surinam caiman fighting a South American false coral snake

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Horse Guards and its Surroundings

Horse Guards sits in the heart of historic London, surrounded by many famous buildings and monuments.
Horse Guards Parade, where the annual Trooping the Colour takes place, was formerly the site of the Palace of Whitehall's tiltyard. Here tournaments were held in the time of Henry VIII.
How the Museum was Made


The Household Cavalry Museum was created by converting former eighteenth century stables within the Horse Guards, a building of exceptional historic and architectural interest. The rest of the building is a functioning military headquarters.
The Horse Guards Building

After his Restoration, Charles II formed England's first standing army by creating The Household Cavalry and the Foot Guards. In 1664 the first Horse Guards building was constructed to house the King's Life Guard, a permanent guard to protect King Charles at the Palace of Whitehall. The building housed both The Household Cavalry and Foot Guards, with stabling for over 100 horses. Household Cavalrymen did not live in, but were billeted in inns across London.
The regimens`duties in times of peace

At the end of the Second World War, 1 and 2HCR reformed into The Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues). Both regiments and The Royals were to stay on in Germany as part of the army of occupation. In 1947, many of the wartime soldiers left to be replaced by the first national servicemen.
The Second World War

The Life Guards and The Blues formed two composite regiments, 1st Household Cavalry Regiment (1HCR), which went to Palestine with horses in 1940, became 'motorised' with lorries in 1941 and was part of a force which fought in Iraq. They also fought the Vichy-French in Syria and operated in Persia.
The First World War

War brought the formation of another Household Cavalry composite regiment, still horsed but now equipped with rifles and, for the first time, Vickers machine guns.
In 1914 the composite regiment and a Household Cavalry brigade found themselves near Ypres in Belgium. The trenches then were just a series of shallow holes running across the countryside and mounted operations were increasingly rare. Corporal Millin described one such mission: 'Shells were bursting all around me, and men and horses were falling right and left'. In general, therefore, cavalry regiments serving in the trenches left their horses several miles behind the line. In October and November 1914, German attacks near Ypres inflicted heavy casualties on The Household Cavalry and The Royals.
The 19th Century. From the ccrimea to the boer war.(part two)

The Household Cavalry was not active abroad until 1882. The first Household Cavalry composite regiment went to Egypt to suppress a nationalist uprising. The highlight was to be their charge at Kassassin. 'I can imagine no more splendid sight than this moonlight charge of our fine fellows on their black horses,' observed Captain Reginald Talbot of the 1st Life Guards. This action stirred popular imagination back home and gave The Household Cavalry an enormous boost after so long without action.
The 19th Century. From the ccrimea to the boer war.(part one)

After Waterloo a prolonged period of peace began for The Household Cavalry. The Prince Regent, acknowledging their role at the battle, made himself Colonel-in Chief of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and in 1820 promoted The Blues officially to The Household Cavalry.
The Battle of Waterloo

In March 1815 Napoleon escaped from Elba and entered France with the French army firmly in support. By June, with most of Europe against him, he had invaded Belgium. At Quatre Bras on the 17th, The 1st Life Guards rescued two British cavalry regiments from French lancers and were congratulated by the Earl of Uxbridge, commander of the cavalry, with the words, 'Well done the Life Guards, you have saved the honour of the British cavalry'.
Europian Wars

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw several European wars in which the three regiments were involved. Armies were small, professional forces and battles usually short affairs. Cavalry provided information on enemy strengths and locations. In battle, they pinned down the enemy's flanks so infantry and artillery could destroy him, or delivered the decisive blow in a charge using shock action. Their main weapon was a straight, single-edged sabre.