On Saturday 8 June, London’s Horse Guards Parade will play host to a spectacular display of pageantry to mark the Queen’s official birthday.
Carried out by Her Majesty’s personal troops, over 1,000 officers and men, together with 200 horses on parade, are accompanied by several musicians for the annual event. Following the parade, the Royal Family will gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch an RAF flypast.
To coincide with the event, Westminster Venue Collection puts the spotlight on its venues with military links cemented in their history.
10-11 Carlton House Terrace
The British Academy moved to 10 Carlton House Terrace in 1998 but for the first 90 years of its life the house was the London home of the Ridley family – a wealthy coal mining family based in Northumberland. When war broke out in 1914, Lady Ridley decided to open up her London home as a Hospital for Officers. She started with just 25 beds in the ballroom and drawing room but, as the war progressed, Lady Ridley made more room available by moving out a lot of her furniture and pictures and opening up further wards on the ground and first floor. By 1917 there were 60 beds, and huts had been built on the terrace to cater for soldiers suffering from poison gas, with a resident doctor and volunteer nurses (VADs).
116 Pall Mall
With a view over Waterloo Place and Arthur Wellesley’s mounting steps outside the front door, 116 Pall Mall was home to one of London’s original military clubs. In 1815, as Napoleon contemplated his final years on the Island of St Helena, his conquerors led by Lord Lyndoch formed a club where they could relax and meet with colleagues and the United Service Club was born. In 1828, George IV donated the stunning 15ft Regency chandelier to commemorate victory in the Battle of Waterloo. The club purchased a marble bust of Lord Admiral Nelson for 100 guineas. It is said to be the only bust of Nelson created from life and still resides at 116 Pall Mall on a plinth made from part of HMS Victory.
116 was also home to important World War II strategy planning as exiled Norwegian monarch, King Haakon regularly met his officers in the Smoking Room for just that. Following the war, Haakon began the annual tradition of sending a Christmas tree to be displayed in Trafalgar Square as a thank-you gift to the UK from Norway.
The United Services Club closed its doors in 1977 and The Institute of Directors took over the premises at 116 Pall Mall. The lease ensures that they have retained all the original paintings and ornaments from the United Service Club, barring the odd misplaced ceremonial sword.
Churchill War Rooms
Hidden beneath the iconic buildings of Westminster, Churchill War Rooms homes the very site where Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his Cabinet led Britain to victory during the Second World War.Winston Churchill is recognised as one of the greatest individuals to ever walk the course of British history, and nowhere is the scene of his finest hour better illustrated than at Churchill War Rooms.Each room has been preserved and restored to look just as it did during the Second World War. Guests are now invited to walk the same corridors as Churchill, peer into the room where his War Cabinet made their momentous decisions, and marvel at the complexity of the abandoned Map Rooms, frozen in time since 1945.
The Rag: Army & Navy Club
The Army & Navy Club has an impressive 180-year history, founded in 1837 as a response to the popularity of other Service clubs in the area. Originally it was to be called the Army Club but the Duke of Wellington, Commander in Chief, who became the Club’s first patron declined to have any involvement unless it was also open to officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Upon agreeing this, the Club was established with Lieutenant General Sir Edward Barnes, Admiral Sir Philip Durham and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Charles Russell elected as Trustees. The Club now welcomes professional men and women from both military and civilian backgrounds who like to enjoy all the benefits that club membership offers. Today, Her Majesty the Queen is the club’s royal patron.
St Martin-in-the-Fields has a deep-rooted connection with the military as the venue’s patron Saint Martin of Tours was a soldier who decided to dedicate his life to the sick and neglected. The annual celebration of his sainthood takes place on Remembrance Sunday. During the First World War, vicar Dick Sheppard came to St Martin’s having served as an army chaplain in the trenches. Reverend Sheppard ensured that St Martin’s church and crypt remained open around the clock as a refuge for those seeking shelter and food day or night. St Martin’s became and remains ‘the church of the ever-open door’ and work with homeless and vulnerable people continues through the homeless charity, The Connection at St Martin’s.
Located on Trafalgar Square, St Martin’s is ideally located for its role as the church of the Admiralty. This relationship is marked with an annual carol service. Special services are also held for the Far East Prisoners of War Association including the 70thanniversary of VJ Day – Victory over Japan. This service took place in 2016 and was attended by HM the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family. A permanent Memorial to the Fareast Prisoners of War can be found in the church.
Church House Westminster
The building of Church House Westminster suffered a direct hit in the early part of WWII but due to its exceptional construction, only minimal damage was done. The Prime Minister of the day, Winston Churchill, was so impressed by this that the building was refurbished for use by the two Houses of Parliament for the remainder of the war. Many historic speeches and events took place within the building during this time, in particular the announcement by Churchill of the sinking of the battleship Bismarck.