The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 29 From The Bank To The Angel

Honourable Artillery Company

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In South Place, the next turning to the right off Finsbury Pavement, is South Place Institute (built in 1824), associated with the names of W. J. Fox and Moncure D. Conway. Finsbury Square, beyond Chiswell St., which leads west to Barbican and Smithfield, was built by George Dance the Younger in 1789. On the left, at the beginning of the long CITY ROAD, is the entrance to the drill-ground and headquarters (Armoury House, 1737) of the Honourable Artillery Company of the City of London, the oldest military body in the country, having been incorporated by Henry VIII. in 1537 under the title of the Guild or Fraternity of St. George. It has been established at its present home since 1642, and since 1660 the captain-general has usually been the King or the Prince of Wales. The officers for the Trained Bands of London were supplied by this company, in whose ranks Milton, Wren, and Pepys served. As the premier territorial regiment the Honourable Artillery Company takes precedence after the regular army and special reserve, and it has the rare privilege of inarching through the City of London with fixed bayonets. Prior to the Great War the Honourable Artillery Company consisted of two batteries of artillery and one half-battalion of infantry, a force that was increased during the War to seven batteries and three infantry battalions. Of its 12,847 members 966 lost their lives, while about 4000 obtained commissions in other units. In 1638 Robert Keayne, a member of the London company, founded the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company of Boston, in the United States, the oldest military body in America.