• 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
  • 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Formation gallery

Exploring historic Army roles in the Formation gallery

Delve into the origins and historic roles of Britain’s army. Learn about its character and the values that continue to motivate its soldiers.

About the gallery

The Formation gallery brings to life the origins and traditions of Britain’s army.

Starting amid the political turmoil of the 1600s, it goes on to outline the Army’s evolving role on the home, European and world stage.

The gallery also explores soldiers' motivations, highlighting their commitment to upholding the values and traditions of this extraordinary organisation.

  • Duration: Around 30 minutes
  • Access: Via the main lift
  • Location: Floor -2
Plan your visit
‘The soldier’s pride and loyalty are not first to the Army as a whole, but to his own corps or regiment... They hold him when more distant, wider loyalties could not.’

Field Marshal Sir William Slim - 1952

Things to see in the gallery

Civil War pot helmet and gorget, c1640

Civil War armour

It's commonly believed that Royalist 'Cavaliers' all wore large floppy hats, while Parliamentary 'Roundheads' wore 'lobster pot helmets' like this. In fact, soldiers on both sides would have looked fairly similar.
French marshal’s uniform, c1700

French marshal’s uniform

This magnificent uniform belonged to a senior French officer during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13). It came into British possession following the Duke of Marlborough’s great victory at Blenheim (1704).
Grenadier cap, 65th Regiment of Foot, c1758

Grenadier cap

Soldiers’ headdresses display badges that symbolise identity and loyalty. This cap bears the royal cypher and white horse of the House of Hanover, the British royal family from 1714 to 1901.
Bust of General Sir Eyre Coote, 1779

General Sir Eyre Coote

Coote served as Commander-in-Chief of the Army in India in the late 18th century. Often facing overwhelming odds, he pulled off a series of victories that helped Britain become the dominant power on the subcontinent.
Embroidered blue full-dress uniform of Jemadar Sadda Singh, The Scinde Horse, c1937

Kurta of Jemadar Sadda Singh

Many Indian regiments wore colourful dress uniforms, and their kurtas (tunics) were highly decorated. Sadda Singh was a jemadar (junior officer) in The Scinde Horse, a regiment that recruited from the Pathans, Sikhs and Rajputs of the Punjab.
Fur fabric olive green smock, or ‘Teddy bear coat’, c1944

‘Teddy bear coat’

This smock was worn in cold weather conditions by women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). One of the main areas of outdoor service for ATS women during the Second World War was anti-aircraft defence.

Gallery stories

Things to do in the gallery

Family trail in the Formation gallery

Family trail

Are you up for a challenge? Explore the origins and roles of Britain’s army with our family trail.
A to Z of Army values touchscreen in the Formation gallery

Army values

Explore our A to Z of the values that have motivated Britain's soldiers throughout the ages.
Ranks and regiments touchscreen in the Formation gallery

Ranks and regiments

Get to grips with Army organisation and insignia with our ranks and regiments touchscreen.

Explore further

Join the conversation

"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."