Victorian London - Museums, Public Buildings and Galleries - United Service Museum

United Service Institution ... Admission to this, which is open daily from 11 to 4, is obtainable only on presentation of a member's order.

The United Service Museum - This institution which is of recent origin, was established, as a central repository for objects of professional art, science and natural history; and for books and documents relative to those studies, or of general information. The museum and library are comprised in four rooms, and 1200 volumes have already been presented, besides various curious objects of professional interest.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

UNITED SERVICE INSTITUTION, WHITEHALL YARD. Founded 1830, as a central repository for objects of professional arts, science, natural history, books and documents relating to those objects, and for the delivery of lectures on appropriate subjects. Member's entrance-fee, 1l.; annual subscription, 10s.; life subscription, 6l. Hours of Admission for Visitors.-Summer months, April to September, from 11 to 5; winter months, from 11 to 4. Mode of A dmissi on. - Members order, easily pro curable. The members are above 4000 in number. The Museum of the Institution contains much that will repay a visit. Observe.-Basket-hilted cut-and-thrust sword, used by Oliver Cromwell at the siege of Drogheda, (1649),-the blade bears the marks of two musket-balls; sword worn by General Wolfe when he fell at Quebec, (1759); sash used in carrying Sir John Moore from the field, and lowering him into his grave on the ramparts at Corunna; part of the deck of the Victory on which Nelson fell; rudder of the Royal George sunk at Spithead; skeleton of Marengo, the barb- horse which Napoleon rode at Waterloo; Captain Siborne's elaborate and faithful model of the field and battle of Waterloo.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

ROYAL UNITED SERVICE INSTITUTION, Whitehall Yard, was established, in 1830, for the collection of objects of the professional arts and sciences, and the delivery of lectures of an appropriate character.
    There are now five departments to be recognised: The Library, which is filled with naval and military books, and a cabinet of coins, has two useful appendages, a map-room and a reading-room.
    The Military Department comprises nine rooms and three galleries, in which are distributed American, Oriental, and European weapons; military models, accoutrements; Chinese and Asiatic armour; Captain Siborne's wonderful model of the great Waterloo battle, exhibiting 190,000 figures; the sword worn by Cromwell at Drogheda, and, the sword worn by Wolfe at Quebec; the sash which lowered the body of Sir John Moore into his grave at Corunna; the skeleton of Marengo, the horse which carried Napoleon at Waterloo; Colonel Hamilton's model of Sebastopol.
    The Naval Department, in three rooms, contains a large collection, of naval models, European, Asiatic, and American; the Franklin relics, discovered in Captain Sir Leopold McClintock's expedition; the rudder of H.M. Ship Edgar, sunk at Spithead; Drake's walking-stick; and Captain Cook's chronometer: these are a few of the more note- worthy treasures enshrined in the Museum. Recently has been added the model of the battle of Trafalgar, placed r upon a table made from old planks taken from H.M. Ship Victory. The piece of ordnance outside the building was captured from the Russians in the late war.
    The institution is supported by nearly 4000 members. Entrance fee, 1l.; life subscription, 9l.; annual subscription, 1l. The Lecture Theatre and Waterloo Room were decorated by Owen Jones.
    Admission, by ticket, procurable from any member, from 11 to 5 daily, April to September, and 11 to 4 during the winter season.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

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United Service Museum is situated in Whitehall-yard. Upon entering, the visitor finds himself in a room devoted to African arms. There are spears and assegais of all shapes and sizes, belonging to the tribes of Abyssinia, Ashanti, Central and Southern Africa. Upon the floor stands a great variety of war-drums of various forms; these are looked upon by African tribes in much the same light in which European troops regard their standards. There are many shields of different kinds, among them a shield with silver ornaments, once the property of a great chief in Abyssinia. There are also some suits of curious armour made of plaited cane. In the African department are some Moorish guns and match-locks, inlaid with silver, The next room is devoted to modem arms. There is a collection of the rifles employed by the different governments of Europe, and a great many other forms of breechloader and magazine rifles. In the same room are obsolete fire-arms, flint-locks, and other weapons, which look clumsy and primitive by the side of the neater, lighter, and far more deadly modern weapon. The next room is devoted to Asiatic arms. There are some curious Chinese and Indian cannon and jingais, some suits of Indian chain-armour, together with primitive weapons from Borneo and the Polynesian islands. Beyond the Asiatic room is that devoted to the marine branch of the United Service. There are a great variety of fine models of ships of all shapes, from the high-pooped vessel of our forefathers to the modern ironclad. Among them a melancholy interest attaches to one or two fine models of ironclads upon his own design, presented by Captain Cowper Coles, who went down in the Captain, a vessel with a low freeboard, fitted with turrets upon his plan. In this room are some Gatling guns and mitrailleuses of various patterns, and also some torpedoes, fixed and movable. At one end are models of small craft of all kinds, from the Cingalese outrigger and the Venetian gondola to the Chinese junk. In the next room is a model upon a large scale of the Battle of Trafalgar, showing the exact position of the various vessels of the united French and Spanish fleets, and of those composing the two British columns of attack. Returning back to the first room, the visitor will find to his left two rooms filled with models of all the different descriptions of ordnance in use in the British army and navy, together with the shot and shell fitted for them. Upstairs there are several rooms with noteworthy military trophies; the most interesting object in the whole museum, however, is a model of the field and battle of Waterloo, executed with a marvellous accuracy and fidelity. This model was many years ago exhibited in Leicester-square. The United Service Museum is open daily, except Friday, the admission being by ticket obtainable from members. NEAREST Railway Stations, Westminster-bridge and Charing-cross (District), Charing - cross (S.E.); Omnibus Routes, Whitehall and Strand; Cab Rank, Horse Guards.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

Old and New London, c. 1880

George Birch, The Descriptive Album of London, c.1896

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - The Royal United Service Museum, with Whitehall

The Royal United Service Museum, with Whitehall - photograph


 Our view shows (on the left) the front and north side of the famous Banqueting Hall, built by Inigo Jones for James I. in 1619-21. On a scaffold against the front Charles I. was beheaded. George I. turned the Hall into a royal chapel, though it was never consecrated; and in 1894 it was transferred to the Royal United Service Institute for its Museum. This Institute was founded in 1830, and its Museum consists of a very fine collection of arms and armour, of models of Waterloo, Trafalgar, and other battles, and of various interesting relics. In the adjoining new building lectures are given on naval and military topics Across Whitehall are the Horse Guards, Dover House (the headquarters of the Secretary for Scotland), and other Government offices, while in the distance rise the three towers of the Houses of Parliament.

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Two Hundred and Fifty Views London, [no date - probably 1900s]