The Honourable Artillery Company is the oldest regiment in the British Army and the second most senior unit of the Territorial Army. The Company traditionally dates its origins to 1537 when Henry VIII granted a charter to the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns for ‘the better increase of the defence of this our realm’ and ‘the maintenance of the science of artillery’. This fraternity practised in the Artillery Ground in Bishopsgate (Spitalfields) until around the 1560s. During the years of the Armada threat in 1586-1588, this practice ground was again used by the officers who trained the City of London’s Trained Bands and who were also known as the ‘Captains of the Artillery Garden’. The word ‘artillery’ was used at this time to describe archery and other missile weapons, while bigger guns were known as ‘great artillery’.
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