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Horse GuardsLondon
Whitehall
London SW1A 2AX
TfL Fare Zone 1

 

 

Halfway down Whitehall on the same side as No. 10 Downing Street is an incongruous sight. Two mounted troopers resplendent in 18th century costume - plumed helmets and gleaming breastplates - guard a building.

This is Horse Guards and an extremely popular spot with photographers. It is located opposite The Banqueting House and Horse Guards Avenue. Horse Guards is named after the troops who have mounted the Guard on this spot since the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660.

The troopers are members of The Household Cavalry and the guard is changed daily in a colourful ceremony.

Guard Changing Ceremony
Monday to Saturday (inclusive): 11:00 hours
Sunday:                                  10:00 hours
The ceremony takes place in the internal courtyard of Horse Guards and it is free to watch. For more details see the article Changing the Horse Guard on this website.
 
History of the Guard House
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Since the time when King Henry VIII lived in Whitehall Palace, this site has been the only official entrance to the Royal residences right up to the present day.
 
The current 18th century Horse Guards is on the site of the old 16th century palace. Designed by William Kent, it was built in 1755 around a square courtyard and is still the official entrance to Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace - this is why it still mounts a guard.
 
There are usually guided tours of the building on London Open House weekend, which takes place in September.
 
The Queen’s Personal Life Guards
The troops who mount guard are the Queen’s personal Life Guards. They are drawn from men of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment which consists of a squadron each from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals (two senior British Army regiments). The Household Cavalry also provides the Sovereign's Escort on all state occasions and various other mounted escorts and dismounted lining parties.
 
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is also a modern operational regiment serving around the world in armoured fighting vehicles.
 
Who is Whom?
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The Life Guards wear red tunics and helmets with white plumes, and the Blues and Royals wear dark blue tunics and red plumed helmets.
 
Household Cavalry Museum
The Household Cavalry Museum lies within Horse Guards and is a 'living museum' not to be missed. Through a large glazed partition you can see troopers working with horses in the original 18th century stables.
 
The museum features interactive displays and stunning rare objects – many on public display for the first time. An audio-guide brings the museum alive with compelling personal stories, and first-hand accounts of the troopers' rigorous and demanding training.
 
We suggest that visitors pre book their tickets as this museum is popular. Special childrens activities are available as detailed on the Museum website - again pre-booking is required.
 
Plan Your Visit
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)2079 303 070
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Horse Guards Parade
Behind the building is a large open space called Horse Guards Parade, site of the ceremonial Trooping of the Colour. This colourful ceremony marks the Queen’s Official Birthday and is held on the Saturday closest to 6 June each year.
 
Horse Guards Parade is also the venue for Beating Retreat each year, on two successive summer evenings, starting at 19:00 hours.
 
Tip
Each morning the troopers with breastplates and helmets gleaming, mounted on beautifully groomed horses, make a fine sight riding through Hyde Park there  from their barracks on their way down The Mall to Horse Guards. About 20 minutes later the old Guard returns via the same route. For a close up view of this magnificent spectacle, position yourself in Wellington Place at Hyde Park Corner.
 
Getting There
To find the best way for getting to Horse Guards, visit TfL Journey Planner.
 
- By Underground
Westminster Station     District, Circle and Jubilee Lines
Charing Cross Station   Bakerloo and Northern Lines (use Trafalgar Square exit)
 
- By Bus
Route Nos. 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 77A, 88 and 159.
We suggest that you visit the Transport for London website above and use their 'Journey Planner'
 
- By Car
Buckingham Palace is in the Congestion Charge zone so not an easy option Web: TfL Congestion Charge
 
- By Open Top Tour Bus
Do not forget that Visitors can use their ‘Open Top’ tour bus ticket to travel to 10 Downing Street, Horse Guards, The Banqueting House and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben precinct.
 
- By Walking
A walk from either Trafalgar Square or Westminster Station is an easy one along a flat route – usually takes about 15 minutes.
 
Google Map - Horse Guards