The Entrance Lodges of the Royal Military Academy

While Surrey Heath has some architectural attractions, it’s sadly not blessed with a huge number. Surrey Heath Borough Council list them among its Local heritage Assets.

Just as the lockdown began I managed a visit to Camberley. With the sun shining on the Entrance Lodges of the Royal Military Academy on London Road I couldn’t resist taking a photo or two [Click on images to expand]. Needing to learn more about them I found Historic England’s record of them, and noted their Grade II listing.

Here’s that record, see below. Good to learn that they were constructed between 1807 to 1812, which is something that I’ve now learned.

1807-12 by James Wyatt. Colourwashed stucco with hipped slate roofs; pyramidal over end pavilions. Central lodge/guardroom with two side pavilions in Antis. Single storey with central ridge stacks. Central guardroom: Rectangular with encircling Greek Doric colonnade, 8 columns along street front, 3 on return fronts. 3 glazing bar sash windows in wall behind across street. Half glazed door to left hand return front. Two square gate piers to left and right with moulded plinths and capitals connected to guardroom by iron railings with roundel bands. End Pavilions: Square with parapet entablature above on Greek Doric Columns in Antis flanking a central glazing bar sash window. Glazed doors on return fronts.

A feast of bands and drums at RMAS Heritage Day

We return from a week away in a hot climate to attend the Heritage Day at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on a typically cool summer’s day.

Attendance at the Heritage Day seemed lower than in previous years. It can’t have helped that the day started with light rain, which thankfully soon passed, such that it remained dry for the rest of the day. There were fewer attractions this year, made up by a feast of band performances on the Old College square.

We enjoyed a Gurkha Bhat meal, always a treat at the Heritage Day, which we ate while watching a succession of bands and drums. Sadly the Royal Logistic Corps Silver Stars Parachute Display Team show was cancelled due to the windy conditions. Here are our photos of the day. There’ll be an article following about the pace sticking demonstration.

Photo slideshow of the 2018 RMA Sandhurst Heritage Day

An overcast day for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Open Day. At least it didn’t rain. Many thousands of visitors enjoyed being in the company of the Army, it’s soldiers, cadets, bandsmen, and all things military.

The standout event of the day was the arrival of the parachutists of the REME Thunder Bolts Display Team. Amazing pinpoint landing accuracy, marvelled at by huge crowds around the landing arena, including us. So, so difficult to photograph them.

We admired the precision marching of the Band of the Parachute regiment from a nice front row seat. We wandered around Old College, including the impressive Conference Room and Indian Army Memorial Room.

We missed not being able to have a cream tea this year, and the queue for the Gurkha curry was a touch too long, so we watched the bands in the main arena. As I took lots of photos, I thought it best to present them as a slide show.

We also missed there being no pace sticking by the RSM’s and Colour Sergeants this year, but it was more than made up by …. oh, well, that’s the subject of the next article.

The bangs came from the 2nd Queen’s Royal Regiment of Foot re-enactment group. Much noise and smoke enjoyed by all.

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Surrey Heath Museum heritage walks, a great way to learn about local history

Surrey Heath Museum organise regular heritage walks in the borough. They’re a great way a learning about local history of places, people, and things.

One walk I thoroughly recommend is The RMA Monuments and Memorials Walk, having taken it. In my article on the walk – see HERE – I don’t give too much away, as there’s so much fascinating history, which I only touch on.

The Bagshot Riot of 1835

I continue to be delighted what can be uncovered by Googling. I can’t remember what was my Google search, whatever it was it turned up Annals of Sandhurst – A chronicle of The Royal Military College from its foundation to the present day. Heinemann, London 1900. At 362 pages, I wasn’t intending to read it online. I idly dipped into the book, and happened on a page about the Bagshot Riot of 1835.

With the weather likely to keep us all indoors, I though this short extract from page 47 to 48, in the book might amuse,

RMAS old-collegeSo the Bagshot Riot of 1835 would never have occurred had the Surrey police been in any state of organization, but until some fifteen years later, when the unfortunate Vicar of Frimley put his head out of the window, and was shot dead by a burglar’s blunderbuss, the county did not even possess a Chief Constable. This Bagshot Riot was a very smart little affair though,of course, all very wrong and improper.

Bagshot in those days was the nearest big village to the College, and its inhabitants (like the Camberley folk of to-day) made a point of flocking to every big show that took place thereat. In the year in question, His Majesty William IV., accompanied by the great Duke of Wellington and many illustrious officers, came down to present new colours to the cadets. The whole ceremony was a magnificent spectacle, and was witnessed by a vast concourse of people, amongst whom Bagshot had, perhaps, the most numerous representatives. Everything passed off” well, and after the Royal party had gone, the cadets, bursting with loyalty, encored “God Save the King.” The encore was given, but the public failed to rise to the occasion, and as hats were not removed as willingly as the cadets approved, they took the liberty of knocking them off”. In the uproar that followed this apparent transgression of the laws of hospitality, a Bagshotman was heard to challenge the cadets to fight it out at Bagshot. The history of what came of the hasty challenge had best be given in the words of the late Colonel Cooper-King, who knew the College and its traditions better than any man on record.

” So straightforward a challenge,” he says, ” appealed to the fighting instinct of the race.

The first convenient half-holiday was selected as the occasion for accepting the proffered hospitality of the village. The visiting contingent numbered some fifty or sixty cadets, well provided with hockey-sticks. Later on, as the attention of the villagers became more marked, cap numbers were removed, and coats were taken off* and tied round their owners* necks by the sleeves, so as to give arms full play and protect the shoulders. On their way a stage-coach passed them, and, boy-like, the younger cadets hung on behind it until, at the instigation of one of the passengers, they were flogged off. The ire of the seniors was roused. Forming line across the road, they stopped the coach, and were proceeding to take summary vengeance on the coachman, when they were mollified by apologies, and the coach went on its way to Bagshot, where it changed horses, accompanied by the cadet guard. The daily papers of that year contain indignant remonstrances from passengers, who complained of the stoppage of the coach on the King’s highway. This was but the beginning of the entertainment. The village was stormed. The inhabitants, at first too few to resist, soon collected jn numbers. Sticks, guns, and other weapons were called into requisition, and the cadets saw that it was time to fall back on their base of operations. Sending the younger ones home, they covered their retreat and fought their way back, reaching the College in a somewhat battered and dishevelled condition, but in time for the last study of the day.”

There is no doubt that in this little affair the cadets came off second best whether any treaty of peace was made history does not relate, but Bagshot and the Royal Military College have remained on friendly terms ever since.

Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas entertain at the 2016 Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Day

This is the last of my videos of events at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Day. This video is of the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Pace sticking demonstrated by Company Sergeants Major at RMAS Heritage Day

We’ve always enjoyed the Heritage Day at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. For me, I look forward to the demonstration of pace sticking by Company Sergeants Major [CSM’s], for my wife it’s the horses.

I know many readers enjoy the smartness and precision exhibited by the Academy CSM’s. I’ve collected my videos and photos of pace sticking here, in one place. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Do look at this splendid video by Captain Graham White on the art of pace sticking. Graham was an RSM prior to his commission. Can’t think of a better description of pride in the role and uniform that when Graham says of the soldier,

“He marches down the strip in a bit of style, panache; he wants to be the best for the organisation, or unit he’s representing. As he marches down he has something about him.”

A pace stick is an aid to military drill. Usually consisting of two pieces of wood, hinged at the top, it opens so that the tips separate at fixed distances, corresponding to various lengths of marching pace, such as “double march” or “quick march” and so on. The history of pace sticking was usefully included in the Heritage Open Day program, which I’ve copied here,

“Roman military engineers used a pace stick almost identical the modern British army version, with the main difference being the length of rope in place of the modern brass locking bar. When the Roman pace stick was fully open the rope went taught and the stick was locked at an angle that measured two Roman marching paces.

When building roads, the Roman ‘sticker’ would turn his implement 500 times, equating to a Roman mile. At which point a mile stone would then be erected. In 1928, the then Academy Sergeant Major Arthur Brand developed a drill for the pace stick and promoted its use throughout the Army.”

I’ve included a photo of Academy Sergeant Major Glenn Haugton [now Army Sergeant Major] for a close-up view of a pace stick, and also a photo of an Academy Cadet delivering port.

Video of Sandhurst & Distict Corps of Drums performing at RMAS Heritage Day

This year I took a series of short videos at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Day. This, the first of three, is of the Sandhurst and District Corps of Drums.

Jolly good they were too, and looking splendid in their uniforms, of which they say,

The Sandhurst & District Corps of Drums uniform is based on the Royal Marines Band uniform and hopefully you will agree from the photos, that our band members look very smart. At the end of 2008 we introduced the addition of the White Pith Helmet.

Crowds enjoy the hospitality of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on its Heritage Day

The programme of this year’s RMAS Heritage Day begins with these words,

“We are delighted that we can once again open our doors to the public to enable you to enjoy the heritage of the Academy. We would particularly like to welcome local residents to whom we owe so very much.”

Local residents responded by coming in their many thousands. This year saw an increase, in my view anyway, in the number of places that children could have fun. Just what parents need, things to engage their offspring.

The Heritage Day kept it’s favourite events – lots of marching bands, pace sticking, and the commandant on his horse mounting the college steps.

Here’s my brief photo record of the day [click on photos to enlarge]. I’ll follow up with a video of the magnificent band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, and the pace sticking.

Recap: notable upcoming local events before the end of June

After scouring a variety of sources on June 1st I listed local events occurring June. I thought a recap of what’s on between now and the end of the month might be useful, plus I’ve found another event, this one a walk around the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Click on the links to view the event details,