Former cavalry riding school


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Salisbury Road, Netheravon, Wiltshire, SP4 9EE


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1463279.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 27-Jul-2021 at 09:04:58.


Statutory Address:
Salisbury Road, Netheravon, Wiltshire, SP4 9EE

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Former riding school associated with the cavalry training school at Netheravon, founded in 1904 with later C20 alterations.

Reasons for Designation

The former cavalry riding school at Netheravon is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* for its association with the cavalry training school at Netheravon, founded by Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell during his tenure as Inspector-General of Cavalry as part of his efforts to re-purpose the role of the cavalry before the mechanisation of warfare took hold; * for its contribution to our understanding of how the role of the cavalry evolved during this crucial era of change in the early C20.

Architectural interest:

* as a rare surviving example of an early C20 riding school with a well-balanced composition and plan form that clearly reflects its function and planned use; * it retains many of the characteristic features of a riding school, and where there is attention to architectural detailing, it is well-executed.

Group value:

* it forms part of an important military training landscape at Salisbury Plain and has group value with Netheravon House (Grade II*), stables (Grade II) and dovecote (Grade II) which were utilised as part of the training school; * it has group value with a series of about 30 circular and oval features to the west and east of the riding school that are possibly associated with horse training.


In 1903, Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), a highly experienced cavalry officer in the British Army, but better known today as the founder of the Scout Movement, was appointed Inspector-General of the Cavalry in order to transform existing training practices and attitudes. Baden-Powell’s experiences in India and South Africa, particularly during the Second Boer War, had awakened him to the fact that the development and availability of modern weaponry had greatly diminished the traditional role of the cavalry, and he recognised that cavalrymen needed to acquire new skills in scouting, reconnaissance, tracking, signalling, dispatch riding and the use of rifles. To this end he founded the cavalry training school at Netheravon, Wiltshire in 1904 with the purpose of teaching officers and NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) the best methods of training men and horses, and represents a last effort to re-purpose the role of the cavalry before the mechanisation of warfare took hold.

Netheravon House (1734, Grade II*) which had been compulsorily purchased by the government in 1898 as part of the Salisbury Plain military training facilities, served as the officers’ mess whilst barracks, extensive training areas, a riding school, and stables, were constructed in the grounds. The riding school was the first military building to be built on the site. The immediate surroundings were probably cobbled but have since been concreted over. There is a series of about 30 circular and oval features, observed as parch marks and mapped as part of the English Heritage Stonehenge World Heritage Site Mapping Project, to the west and east of the riding school which may be associated with horse training.

At the end of 1912 the Royal Engineers Air Battalion took over some of the site and constructed hangars and an airfield within the cavalry school complex, but the cavalry school continued to operate in the remaining training areas until the beginning of the First World War. The school re-opened in 1919 and remained in use until 1922 when it was moved to Weedon in Northamptonshire, following its amalgamation with the Royal Artillery Riding Establishment. In the same year the Machine Gun School moved to Netheravon from Seaford in Sussex and occupied the outbuildings of the cavalry school as instructional rooms and the house again became an Officers’ Mess. By 1974, the buildings were being used by the Support Weapons Wing which operated as a branch of the School of Infantry at Warminster and it is understood that the riding school was used mainly for storage. It is currently (2020) unused.


Former riding school associated with the cavalry training school at Netheravon, founded in 1904 with later C20 alterations.

MATERIALS: constructed of brick that has been rendered, apart from the plinths, copings and dressings. The pitched roof with cambered metal trusses is covered in corrugated iron; the underside of the roof is of boarded timber.

PLAN: it has a rectangular footprint, measuring approximately 70m by 23m and forms a double-height arena that is open to the roof. At the north end are single-storey brick offices, and at the south end are inserted mid-to late-C20 breeze block structures. There is a two-storey range to the west elevation, with a mid-to-late C20 single-storey addition to the left.

EXTERIOR: a single-storey, 10-bay range, articulated by pilasters, with clerestorey windows that have been replaced; those to the east elevation are half-louvred. Full-height roller doors have been inserted into bay two and nine of the west elevation, and to the central four bays is a two-storey range with a stack to its north end; the windows are later C20 replacements. To the east elevation there is a paved ramp leading to a pair of double, plank doors with strap hinges, and a mid-C20 lean-to towards the south end. The pitched roof has a louvred ridge lantern to the apex of the central four-bays, and to the north end of the roof is a metal canopy, presumably for a bell.

The gabled ends (north and south) are articulated by six pilasters and clasping buttresses to the corners. To the north end, bays two and six have wide openings with brick piers and corbelled capitals supporting a moulded cornice; the openings have been blocked and windows inserted. Bay three has an inserted window and bay four has an inserted doorway. Above, to bays three, four, and five, of both the north and south gable, are three multi-paned round-headed windows with metal glazing bars.

INTERIOR: the wide internal space is spanned by cambered metal trusses with angled struts. At the north end are the former offices, separated from the arena by a single-storey brick wall; there may have been a gallery above.


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume XI, (1980), 165-181
Crawford, T S, Wiltshire and The Great War: Training the Empire's Soldiers, (2012), 216
Warren, A, 'Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the Scout Movement and Citizen Training in Great Britain, 1900–1920' in The English Historical Review, , Vol. 101, (April 1986), 384
Galt-Brown, J H, 'Limitations of Command: Robert Baden-Powell as Inspector-General of Cavalry, 1903-7' in American International Journal of Social Science, , Vol. 1, (October 2012), 43-9
Falls, C (revised by Williams, J) ''Byng, Julian Hedworth George, Viscount Bing of Vimy (1862-1935)' (2011), accessed 3 December 2019 from
Warren, A, 'Powell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-, first Baron Baden-Powell (1857-1941)' (2008), accessed 3 December 2019 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].