Horse Guards Parade is the ceremonial parade ground by St James’s Park in London. Horse Guards is the building itself which dates from the 18th century, replacing an earlier building. It was built as a barracks and stables for the Household Cavalry and though still a military barracks it is also the site of the Household Cavalry Museum.
The building is the formal entrance to St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace. The first building was commissioned by Charles II in 1663 but the current building, designed by William Kent, was commissioned by George III in 1745.
The Parade Ground was originally built by Henry VIII to be used for jousting tournaments. It has hosted many events since including of course the regular Trooping of the Colour.
There are also some striking statues in and around the parade grounds including the Guards Memorial dating from 1926 and commemorating those lost in the First World War. The Cenotaph above it contains an inscription written by Rudyard Kipling who lost his only son in the war.
There is also the beautiful Cadiz Memorial which is a 19th century French mortar mounted on what is apparently Dante’s re-imagining of the monster Geryon – a giant who was the grandson of Medusa. It was given by the Spanish government in gratitude for the Duke of Wellington lifting the siege at Cadiz in 1812 after the defeat of the French.
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