Clandon Park House, home to the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regimental Museum, was built
early in the 18th century for the 2nd Lord Onslow and his wife Elizabeth. Sadly,
Elizabeth died before completion of her dream house and her ghost, in a cream silky
dress and clutching a large hunting knife, is said to haunt the rooms.
A haunting of a different kind occurred on the morning of Sunday 17th April this
year, when the anguished howls of a sorely-tried Drum Major were heard echoing around
the grounds. What had seemed a straight-forward marching display for The Cinque Ports
R.V. Corps of Drums to perform at the Malta Military Tattoo in October was proving
far from straight and not often forward.
To be fair to us, this was our first chance to actually practise the whole routine
in the open so a few glitches were to be expected. A few too many from the Drum Major’s
point of view, though! But after a full morning’s getting things wrong we broke for
lunch having made some progress.
The afternoon’s uniformed events began with an unexpected change of start time. This
didn’t perturb quick-change artist Robert Bannister but left the rest of us struggling
into our kit in double time. Kitted up and fell in, our first task was to march the
2nd (Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot, 1809, on for their drill and firing display
in front of a respectable-sized crowd of spectators.
The 2nd Foot, a group that re-creates the life of a British regiment of line infantry
during the Napoleonic Wars, aims to be as authentic as possible in their dress, equipment
and drill. Waiting to march them off again we saw just how authentic, and noisy,
their drill and musket firing were.
Then it was our turn to make some noise, so it was on with Galanthia until we had
fronted up ready to begin our Malta routine. Starting with a bugle fanfare followed
by a slow march, then a quick march ‘bomb burst’ and our old favourite ‘going round
in circles’ we ended with The Jigs and off to Sussex by the Sea. (A full report of
our Malta routine follows – in October!)
After getting our breath back we were on again for a static session around the music
stands. The standard marches from our music books were supplemented by our traditional
Kids’ Korner section where Drummer Stone lured in a goodly crowd of youngsters to
bash various percussion instruments along to Mighty Band of Brothers, My Grandfather’s
Clock and others.
An unexpected result of Kids’ Korner was an old comrade of Peter Nightingale’s emerging
from the crowd. Sid ‘The Cymbals’ Turner, ex-2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards, joined us
for our last few marches and showed that, like elephants, good cymbalists never forget.
The day was pleasantly rounded off with tea and cakes, courtesy of museum curator
Ian Chatfield. A suitably traditional end to a day of traditional musketry, care
of The 2nd Foot, and Corps of Drums music, care of we Cinque Porters. The only traditional
thing missing was the ghost of Elizabeth Onslow clutching her hunting knife. Instead
we had the memory of Drum Major Fairfax’s howls to haunt our nightmares…