Clandon Park House

Home of the Queens Royal Surrey Regt Museum

 

Scribe Mike Boxall

 

Groundhog Day at Clandon

1st Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums at Clandon Park House

27th April 2014

 

It’s the last Sunday in April so it must be Clandon. There was a definite ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling to this, our fifth visit to The Surrey Infantry Museum at Clandon Park House.

 

We parked in the same car park, we changed in the same room in the museum, we went out to practise on the same back lawn with the same re-enactors and we made the same mistakes with our timings – just like every year before. Punxsutawney Phil would have been proud of us.

 

Thankfully, on the music front, some things were different. We’ve included the tune Eventide in our programme and, after a practice run-through, the bugle call Retreat.  

 

Eventide, more familiar by its hymn title Abide With Me, was composed by William Henry Monk the musical editor of ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’. Traditionally sung at the FA Cup Final before the kick-off, and reputedly played by the Titanic's band as the ship was sinking, it makes a stirring finale to this year’s programme.

 

Retreat is the bugle call that signals the end of the official military day, not the signal to carry out a ‘strategic withdrawal’ in battle. So even ex-members of regiments that never retreated (like The Coldstream Guards?) could sound it.

Home.

 

The early afternoon rain held off long enough for us to form up for our display on the House’s back lawn - another nail in the coffin for Groundhog Day as we usually give our display on the front gravel. This year the Alvis Car Club had taken that space, so it was muddy boots for us.

 

Beginning with the Regimental Call and Fall In bugle calls, we marched on playing Children’s Love by W. H. Turpin. Halting, we sounded Joseph Winter’s bugle fanfare Westminster then advanced in slow time to the Irish Air King of the Fairies.

 

At the end of ‘the Fairies’ we broke into quick time for Euterpe by William Clark, which included two sets of ‘bomb bursts’. To the audience these probably look as though the front rank of side drummers has had a sudden disagreement and wants to put some distance between each other, but I’m almost sure that wasn’t the case.

 

After re-forming and pausing for the on-lookers to show their appreciation, we launched into our First World War medley, arranged by Laurie Johnson. During this we did our traditional ‘going round in circles’ evolution, snaking into a counter-clockwise circle, spiralling in, re-emerging in a clockwise circle then re-forming behind the Drum Major. It’s good that each tune is repeated to give us time for this manoeuvre, and even better when we all remember the repeats.

 

Following this our Londoner medley, arranged by Jack Wallace, had our front rank drummers falling out even more dramatically as the right and left files ‘bomb burst’ away at right angles. When peace had been restored and we were all back behind the Drum Major again it was time for The Jigs, arranged by R. H. Trussler.

 

These jigs, played first with alternating solos and group playing, gradually increased in speed until The Rakes of Mallow was played flat out. It ended with a loud Bass Drum beat and a moment’s eerie silence followed by audience applause.

 

The soothing strains of William Henry Monk’s Eventide made a pleasant contrast to the frenetic ‘Rakes’ before the bugles sounding Retreat brought the display to a suitably martial conclusion.

 

 

After marching off to William Ward-Higgs’ Sussex by the Sea and the Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers’ Regimental March, Let the Hills Resound by Henry Brinley Richards, our work wasn’t finished. We immediately counter marched and played the traditional The British Grenadiers and The Rogues March to lead on the 2nd (Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot, 1809, for their drill and firing display.

 

Returning via the front of the House expecting to see the gravel covered with the Alvis Car Club’s finest, we found only six lonely cars. Alvis had left the building!

 

After a pause for refreshments our traditional static performance with music stands was delayed as ‘rain stopped play’. When we did finally get out we aired a few of the more recent additions to our repertoire – Wolfe’s Patrol by T. S. Davis, Medicine and Duty by Albert Shrimpton, and a Soldiers’ Selection medley which includes Kiss Me Good Night, Sergeant Major by Art Noell and Don Pelosi and There’s Something About A Soldier by Noel Gay.

 

Our ‘Groundhog Day’ at Clandon was a little wetter this year but museum curator Ian Chatfield had made us feel welcome, as usual. For us, it’s always a pleasure to give the first performance of our display for the year at the inspiring location of The Surrey Infantry Museum.

 

Mike Boxall

  

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