The Rifles Museum

Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment Museum (The Rifles Museum), Another fascinating building in Salisbury Cathedral Close is the peculiarly named The Wardrobe. The Wardrobe houses the museum of the infantry regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire (which now form part of The Rifles regimental family) and offers an entertaining and informative look at military history.


The Building’s History

The first resident of The Wardrobe was a clergyman serving the cathedral. It later passed to the Bishop of Salisbury who used it as an office and a store room, probably for clothes. This is perhaps how The Wardrobe got its name. From 1568 the building was rented to a number and variety of tenants -several of whom are now reported to haunt the property!

During the Second World War it was a hostel of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). From 1945 to 1969 it was rented by the Diocesan female teacher training college. After which the building remained empty for some years until it became today’s museum.

The Museum

The Royal Berkshire Regiment and The Wiltshire Regiment merged in 1959 to become the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire). Each regiment had their own museum which continued on separate sites until The Wardrobe was identified, converted and opened in 1982.

The Museum tells the history of these regiments from 1743 to the present day. As well as describing stories of great bravery and valour, the Museum holds over 34,000 items, of which around 1,200 are on display, relating to wars in Afghanistan, China, the Crimea, South Africa and the First and Second World Wars. The collection includes photographs, medals, weapons, uniforms, flags and battlefield souvenirs including a cannon ball from the American War of Independence.

The renovated museum garden is a tranquil place in which to relax. Memorial plaques, removed from a variety of previous locations, and wall tablets recording the names of regimental casualties since 1959 are in the garden. In the converted coach house the Bernieres Restaurant provides coffee, refreshments and light lunches.

Opening Details

The Museum is closed throughout December and January. In February and November it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays but open 10am – 5pm on other days. From March to October it’s open Monday to Saturday, including public holidays, 10am – 5pm, and Sunday 12 noon – 4.30pm. Last admission is at 4:15pm, 4pm on Sundays.

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