Sandhurst Royal Military College Heritage Day
June 17, 2012
What a lovely way to spend Father’s Day – go do something military like. So it was we ended up at Sandhurst today and also because it seems to be the only day of the year that the general public is invited onto Sandhurst grounds. The military college is only a few miles from us which explains why we can often hear them firing on the range and often see helicopters flying to or from the college. We had wanted to see it so away we went.
Obviously we are not the only ones wanted to see Sandhurst as there was a line to get into the car park but we made it and then there was the walk. OMG. Sandhurst is huge! We walked about 2 miles from the car park before we got to the buildings and tents and happenings. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite 2 miles but it was over a mile. And Sandhurst is beautiful. We are walking by a lake and through a forest and it doesn’t’ see as if there is anything around us. Guess it helps when you have to march a lot or run that you are marching and running through a beautiful place.
Finally we get to the Heritage Day grounds and darned if a bus didn’t pull up right next to us. We could have ridden from the car park! It was free to enter the grounds but you were encouraged to buy a program which was really necessary to see where things were but a bargain for only 3 pounds. We were advised by the lovely gentlemen selling first day covers of Sandhurst envelopes with Queen Elizabeth stamps that we should go to the main building first and look around in there and later to the chapel and if time, to the new college. We certainly didn’t have enough time.
We wandered into the old college and through the halls where we were allowed. There were many a young man or woman in full dress blues standing where you weren’t allowed to go but all were friendly and polite and albeit a probably great bloody hassle to have a Heritage Day, they all seemed happy to have people come and look at their academy. There were things for sale, of course. Anything British will have vendors selling the dominate theme of the day. So a lot of military memorabilia for sale including from their iconic “Dad’s Army” television show of years gone past. I got a magnet and a wonderful bear dressed in camouflage. Kids had a whole area to themselves with rides and such and there was a very long line of kids waiting to get on an actual British war horse and ride it around the ring – of course being led by a handler.
The rooms where we were allowed to see were al lovely and many with wonderful paintings of battles or portraits of famous generals of people who have helped with Sandhurst. Also stained glass windows of past battles. In many parts of the building were lists – lists of heroes, lists of the fallen, lists of the awarded. Very interesting, every part.
We wandered out to the chapel which is way larger than a chapel usually is but still didn’t seem to have that many seats. Someone was playing the pipe organ or practicing because when we walked into the chapel, the music was bright and militaristic marching type music. When we walked out, they were playing “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies”.
Decided to go for some Gurka curry. For 4 pounds, you were entitled to rice, chicken or pork curry, pappdams, and salad. We snuck in through the back way first but had to go back to the tent to get our ticket and then were served enough for 3 meals. If this is what the men and women eat while on duty, it’s a good thing they run a lot because otherwise they’d all need new uniforms every few months! What a lot of food. The curry wasn’t overly spicy but the chutney was.
We saw one demonstration where they were carrying artillery over an obstacle which really wasn’t there but just in case it was, they set up their blocks and tackle and relay and got that canon over the “stream” and back into working order and fired just lickety split. Most impressive. We missed them doing the tent pegging which is where they ride furiously at a small “peg” on the ground and must spear it and ride away with it. We’d seen this at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and had been impressed by it.
Finally it was time to leave as we had other tasks waiting for us. It was too bad we couldn’t have arrived at opening and left at closing but one day a year still wouldn’t have been enough to see everything that Sandhurst has to offer. If one has to be in the military, one should definitely try for Sandhurst.