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Musketeers and Pikemen turn out for inspection

22 May 2017

Don’t let the Civil War era uniforms fool you, The Honourable Artillery Company’s Company of Musketeers and Pikemen are real soldiers.

In 1955, HM The Queen granted the Company a Royal Warrant authorising it to parade and tasked it to provide a ceremonial bodyguard for the Lord Mayor of the City of London. The warrant limits the Company to parading a maximum of 63 members, including six officers, at any one time - that being the size of a company in the 17th century. They are the ceremonial unit of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) and one of only six royally warranted bodies in the UK.

The soldiers were inspected by Major General Ben Bathurst, General Officer Commanding Head Quarters London District at Armoury House, Finsbury Barracks, to check the quality of their turn out, presentation and drill.

Musketeers and Pikemen of the HAC are inspected.

The uniform members of the Company wear is identical to that worn by the HAC in the reign of Charles I. It comprises Venetian red tunics with white linen collars and cuffs and knee-length breeches. The seniority of officers and non-commissioned officers is signified by the amount of lace worn on collars and cuffs; the more lace the more senior the rank.

Pikes and muskets

Officers wear thigh boots and spurs. Pikemen wear steel half-armour of back and breast plates with tassets and a morion (steel helmet). The weight is about 18 lbs. They are armed with swords and pikes. The latter would originally have been 18 feet long but for reasons of practicality 12-foot pikes are used today. Musketeers wear a buff sur-coat and wide-brimmed black felt hat. They are armed with a match-lock musket and rest and wear a leather cross belt, from which are suspended 12 wooden powder flasks known as apostles.

The duties the unit carries out for the Lord Mayor of London are primarily at Guildhall and Mansion House but also at livery halls and other events, such as the opening of the Rolls Building at the Royal Courts of Justice by HM The Queen. The Pikemen and Musketeers are also increasingly in demand to provide period displays of 17th century drill and music to show how the army of Charles I moved and defended itself.

The form of drill used is taken from a manual entitled Militaire Discipline first published in 1638 by Colonel William Bariffe, a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. Although many of the orders are similar to those used in the Army today you still hear some original orders such as ‘have a care’, ‘assume a lazy posture’ and ‘charge for horse and draw your sword’. Seventeenth century marches and music are provided by the Company’s own drums and fifes.

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