The Cinque Ports RV Corps of Drums at The Guards Museum
13th July 2013
He was "an unsociable and occasionally aggressive schoolboy who made little effort
to learn" and whose only talents seemed to be playing the violin and arithmetic.
He went on to purchase commissions in six different regiments, though he didn’t serve
with any of them, and his leisure pursuits were drinking, gambling, and getting into
Yet we were to play in a Barracks named after this young rascal. How come?
Well, when he did finally join his regiment he went on to lead successively larger
forces to victory at battles in India, the Peninsula and Waterloo and ended his career
as Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington, Commander in Chief of the British Army.
The Cinque Ports RV Corps of Drums contains its fair share of members who, like the
Duke, “made little effort to learn" when at school, so perhaps Wellington Barracks
was appropriate for us after all.
This was our second visit to play in the forecourt of the Guards Museum so after
detours through scenic parts of central London due to road works, and some confusion
over car parking, we all gathered in the familiar surroundings of the museum kitchens.
After kitting up, we listened with our customary rapt attention to the Drum Major’s
run-through of our first display.
Then it was out into the sunshine to form up for our first performance. We’d caught
the early summer heat wave with the thermometer nudging 30°C but nothing daunted,
though perspiring gently, we set off to Galanthia.
The Drum Major steered us through our standard marching display – no mean feat in
the narrow confines of the museum forecourt. We finished to the applause of a quite
considerable crowd and retired to the museum kitchen to cool down.
Lunch had been kindly provided by Guards Museum Curator Andrew Wallis and was swiftly
dealt with. Soon it was back out into the sunshine for our second display. After
an initial turn round the forecourt, the Drum Major wheeled us to halt in a shady
spot for the remainder of the performance.
This time we ran through some old favourites: Prussia’s Glory, Killaloe, The Great
Escape, The Adjutant, Hazelmere, Trumpet Tunes, The French March and The Rogues March.
The session also featured the welcome return of ‘Kids Korner’.
It’s always surprising to see just how many children can be lured from an audience
when they’re given the chance to bash along with us on the assorted triangles, tambourines,
cymbals and drums we supply. This time the supply of kids outstripped the supply
of percussion, but Drummers Leworthy and Bannister handled the distribution with
aplomb and surprising tact.
When the plume on the Drum Major’s slouch hat had wilted so badly it fell to the
ground, we’d obviously been out in the sun too long so brought proceedings to a close
with Sussex By The Sea and The British Grenadiers.
Unlike the schoolboy Duke, we’d made quite a bit of effort to learn our Corps of
Drums marches and, despite the heat, had had a great time playing our music and supporting
The Guards Museum at Wellington Barracks.