The HAC - Did you know…? - 29/03/2016
The HAC - Did you know…?
1. Armoury House was built in 1734-5 and cost £1,689. 11s. 1½ d. to complete, this included all the furniture. Some of the most interesting artefacts that can still be found in Armoury House from this time include a turtle shell, painted in the Company’s Coat of Arms. Other original features include the closed string and column-and-urn balusters of the main staircase.
2. The Artillery Garden, our five-acre plot of green space adjacent to Armoury House, was first leased to the HAC in 1641, and especially occupied from 1658. Much of the garden, and the buildings on the parade ground, are now owned by the HAC. Today it hosts hundreds of outdoor events throughout the year. Some of the most notable include the Great City Race 5K run; Saracens in the City rugby matches; The HAC Open Day sees mock warfare, chinooks and parachutists; Race Week sees Formula 1 cars and drivers plus international cricketers; and the first ever Push Track Championships will be hosted in June 2016.
3. The grounds saw the ascent of the first hot-air balloon ride from English soil on 15 September 1784. It was piloted by Vincent Lunardi who was admitted to the HAC in December that year. The daredevil Italian aeronaut didn’t quite have the patience to wait for his balloon to completely inflate before he took off, but he did find time to muster together a strange flying crew which included a cat, a caged pigeon and a dog.
4. One of the oldest artefacts in the house is a suit of tilting armour. This is displayed in the Court Room. Tilting was a form of jousting which saw opponents on horseback attempt to topple each other from their mounts with lances. This suit was made in 1560 by Jacob Halder of the Royal Armouries, then based in Greenwich, and is one of the very few suits of such armour in private hands. We do not know to whom it belonged, but it has been in the Company’s possession since at least 1660.
5. The Rolls of Honour, which are located beneath the stained glass window on the main staircase, document members of the HAC who died serving with HAC units or with other units of the armed forces during the First and Second World Wars. Every Wednesday, the Regiment’s Piquet Officer turns a page of both books. A daily tradition sees all members salute the books on the first occasion they pass them.
6. Our largest space, The Prince Consort Rooms, incorporating the Albert Room, was originally built as a drill hall in 1862 in memory of Prince Albert, the HAC’s Captain-General. It underwent a £6.5 million refurbishment in 2007 and now hosts a huge range of events including: Square Meal host an annual Restaurant and Wine event showcasing London’s finest cuisines; The Commemoration of the Service of Afghanistan welcomed members of the Royal Household and 4* Generals alongside 600 serving men and women for a reception after their service at St Pauls; the Rugby Hall of Fame admitting Rugby Professionals at their annual awards dinner; The annual Dating Awards is always a fun evening; The Lord Mayors Show houses their horses here each year, and a large dinner is enjoyed by Pikemen and Musketeers and other honourable guests. Whisky Live showcases the world’s best whiskies including the world whisky awards; Jeffrey Archer heads up a celebrity cricket team each year for the Sick Childrens Trust; Graduation Ceremonies for the Worshipful Company of Farriers; and regular key note speakers such as Al Gore (in his time) can be seen on our stage.
7. The Honourable Artillery Company has its own museum within Armoury House, documenting the history of the HAC from its traditional 1537 origins until the present day. As well as weapons, uniforms, letters, artwork and silverware, the collection also includes the Ancient Vellum Book which lists all the members of the Company who joined from 15 August 1611 until 19 December 1682. The book includes signatures of important members and guests, including those of Charles II and James II when they were boys and also George II and George IV when they were Captain-Generals of the HAC. The HAC’s collection of medals, dating from 1900, can be seen displayed in the Medal Room.
8. The Sutling Room at Armoury House, which houses the members’ bar, takes its name from the unusual term ‘sutling’, a word of Dutch origin which means the provision of food and drink.
9. The Minstrels’ Gallery in the Long Room was built at a time when the roof was raised on the house and the pediment on the front was removed. Its balcony now encompasses the portrait of Henry VIII, the traditional founder of the HAC, purchased by members’ subscription in 2006 from the Hever Castle collection (the home of Anne Boleyn). The Long Room panelling was installed c. 1919 and is a memorial to members who died in the First World War.
10. The Drum Room is so called because it once housed a display of the regiment’s drums. The room is now used as a sitting room and the only drum it contains has been re-appropriated and now serves Company members as a coffee table.
There’s so much more to discover about the HAC, all of our event spaces are unique and steeped in history. Book in for a show round or call to discuss your next event by calling our Events Team on 020 7382 1533.