The Company of Pikemen & Musketeers is a ceremonial unit of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), which provides a regiment for the Army Reserve and is associated with the City of London. The HAC is the oldest regiment in the British Army, though not the most senior.
Uniform and traditions
The Pikemen & Musketeers are dressed and equipped as members of the HAC would have been in the 1640s and the Company is tasked with providing a ceremonial bodyguard and escort for the Lord Mayor of London. This includes escorting the Lord Mayor's state coach at the Lord Mayor's Show. and guards of honour and carpet guards for events at Mansion House and Guildhall.
The Company also mounts guards for livery company functions in the City, at Royal Palaces and for charitable and other events. It has taken part in the British Military Tattoo and the 500th anniversary of the Pontifical Swiss Guard in Rome. From time to time it visits Boston to take part in ceremonies with its sister organisation, the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. It also provides period displays of 17th century drill and music to show how the army of Charles I moved and defended itself.
In 1955 HM The Queen granted the Company a Royal Warrant. This allows the Company to parade a maximum of 63 members, including six officers, at any one time – that being the size of a company in the 17th century. The Pikemen & Musketeers may only parade with a warrant signed by one of the Company's three governors – The Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Colonel-Commandant of the HAC or the General Officer Commanding London District.
Uniform, Arms and Equipment
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. Officers wear thigh boots and spurs.
Pikemen wear steel half-armour of back and breast plates with tassets (which hang from the breast plate to protect the thighs) and a morion (steel helmet). The combined 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. Pikes were used to repel cavalry charges and swords would have been used for personal protection in the event of a pike being broken in battle.
Musketeers wear a buff sur-coat and wide-brimmed black felt hat. They are armed with a match-lock muskets and rest and wear a leather cross belt, from which are suspended 12 wooden gunpowder flasks known as apostles.
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 HAC and veteran artillerist who fought in the English Civil War under John Hampden . Although many of the orders are similar to those used in the Army today; one can, in ceremonies when they are present, still hear some delightfully 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.
Members of the Company
Only veteran members of the HAC who have proven efficient service in the HAC's Army Reserve regiment are eligible for membership. All join in the lowest rank, regardless of any previous military rank held.
The Company of Pikemen & Musketeers was formed in 1925 to take part in the first Royal Tournament at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, The company's first ‘outing’ was deemed such a success that the demonstration team was kept together and developed and has been providing colour and pageantry at events in the City of London and elsewhere ever since.
- Margaret Brentnall (1975), The Old Customs and Ceremonies of London, Batsford, pp. 119–122
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