Today the corps consists of five officers (the captain, the lieutenant, the standard bearer, the clerk of the cheque and adjutant and the harbinger) and 27 ‘gentlemen’.
The unit was first instituted as the royal bodyguard by Henry VIII in 1509 and still provides protection to the queen at many ceremonial occasions from the Garter service at Windsor to the state opening of parliament.
The uniform used today by the corps is that of a heavy dragoon guards officer of the 1840s including helmets with white swan feather plumes worn when on duty, even in church, and a battleaxe.
The officer’s coatee and shako offered at Gorringe’s (21% buyer’s premium) in Lewes on March 12 dated from c.1840. It bore a label reading Wm Webb, Gold Laceman to the King and the Duke of York, 48 Piccadilly – perhaps for Matthew Clement Webb who is named in the London Gazette as retiring from the Honourable Corps of Gentleman at Arms at St James’s Palace, March 25, 1844.
Early, well-preserved uniforms, especially for small units with an interesting history such as this, are much sought after. It sold for £3400 to a buyer from Essex in the room against an estimate of £800-1200.