The Rifles Museum is located in the Cathedral Close directly across the lawn from Salisbury Cathedral. It presents the history of the infantry regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire with some 36,000 pieces in its collection.
This museum began life as the museum for the Dike of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire). Indeed, it was opened as such by Prince Philip, the colonel of the regiment, in 1982. However, subsequently several more regiments were amalgamated with the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment and so the name of the regiment was changed to the Rifles. The museum's collection now includes items from the successor regiments.
The museum is housed in the Wardrobe, a large mansion dating back to the 13th century It most likely began as a residence for clergymen who served the cathedral. It was enlarged in 1568 and leased to lay tenants, several of whom improved the house.
The Wardrobe's time as a private residence ended in 1941 and during World War II it was used as a hostel for the Auxiliary Territorial Service. After the war, it was rented by the Diocesan Training College for Schoolmistresses who occupied the building until 1969.
For several years, the Wardrobe stood empty and there was doubt about its future. At this time, the Royal Regiment was looking for a home for its museum but did not have the funds to pay for the alterations and repairs needed to make the Wardrobe into a museum. In 1976, the Landmark Trust, however, agreed to pay for these changes in exchange for use of a portion of the building. A 99 year lease was then purchased from the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral.
The museum's collection is displayed in four rooms on the ground floor of the Wardrobe. Two of the rooms are dedicated to telling the chronological history of the regiments while the other two are devoted to presenting information about how the soldiers lived.
In back of the Wardrobe is a pretty garden. When the house was a private residence this area was both a functional and an ornamental garden. However, it was neglected when the house was empty. In the years since the museum opened, the museum has worked to revitalize the garden, planting new flower beds and ornamental trees. It has also created a memorial garden.
For more information and opening times, see the Rifles Museum's website.
Cruise destination guide - England - Salisbury - Rifles Museum