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
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.
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 Pelosiand 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.