City of London Beadles Guild Jubilee Night


Girdlers Hall City of London 8th June


Scribe Mike Boxall

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The City of London Beadles Guild Jubilee Party

8th June 2012


Blue smoke billowed in the gusting wind on the other side of the high wall, carrying the faint tang of charred sausages. The small door in the wall opened a crack and five buglers immediately responded by sounding The Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Regimental Call and Fall In.


As the door opened fully, four ranks of The Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums, playing Galanthia, marched through in single file. After cutting through the pall of smoke from the barbeque and negotiating an awkwardly placed step, we formed up on the lawn of Girdlers’ Hall behind the Drum Major.


Before us stood the Chairman, Mr Robert Young (former Drum Major, 1 Scots Guards), members and guests of The City of London Beadles Guild - we were the surprise entertainment at their Jubilee Party.    


The office of Beadle is an ancient one. The word comes from the Latin ‘bidellus’ or ‘bedellus’ and in Old English ‘bydel’ was the title of the officer who summoned householders to council. Later, Beadles were parish constables like the famous fictional Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist who oversaw the parish workhouse and orphanage.


In modern London there are three types of Beadle: the staff in nineteenth century uniforms on duty in Burlington Arcade are called Beadeles; Ward Beadles are functionaries in the local government of the City of London and accompany their Aldermen in a ceremonial role; and Livery Company Beadles are employees of the Livery Companies of the City, acting as Masters of Ceremony at formal banquets and accompanying the Master or Prime Warden on civic occasions.


It was members of the Guild of this last category of Beadle that formed our audience on the lawn of Girdlers’ Hall.  


After we’d halted, our flute players got the chance to show they’d remembered the ‘bugles up’ sequence for the beginning of the Westminster Fanfare, a subject of some discussion while we were getting ready.


That safely negotiated, the rest of our ‘No. 1 Standard Routine’ – The King of the Fairies, Euterpe, A 1914-18 Medley, The Londoner Medley and The Jigs passed off uneventfully. It was a nice change to play the set static rather than with our usual bomb-bursts, snakes and circles; and nice too to be so close to an enthusiastic audience.


A Diamond Jubilee celebration couldn’t not include The National Anthem, so we played this accompanied by some lusty singing from the massed Beadles. The Drum Major then asked permission to march us off and we exited playing Sussex By The Sea.


The refreshments, kindly provided by The City of London Beadles Guild, made a much appreciated end to our evening.


We’ve subsequently had several enquiries from Bill Oddie and other ‘twitchers’ about the strange bird whose piercing cries sounded so like David Lear’s piccolo part. We can’t shed any light on its origins but Jake has booked out the Mess Webley just in case it appears again…


Mike Boxall




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