Who We Are


The 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums is a group of civilian enthusiasts keen to promote and preserve the traditions and music of the drum, flute and bugle Corps of Drums.


What is a Corps of Drums?

Perhaps better known popularly as fifes and drums, the Corps of Drums is Britain's oldest military music. From the early 1500's drums, and later drums and fifes, signalled soldiers' movements on the battlefield, and cheered them on the march and in camp. By Victorian times the Corps of Drums had assumed its modern form - lead by a Drum Major and consisting of side-drummers, tenor drummers, a bass drummer, a cymbalist and flute players.


Why are you called The Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums?

In ancient times, before Britain had a Royal Navy, the five main coastal towns of Kent and Sussex ('cinque ports' is Norman French for 'five ports') were chartered by the Crown to maintain ships ready for Britain's defence at sea. For centuries this made the south coast a powerful local area.

In the 1860s the Cinque Ports area, like many others, raised a Rifle Volunteers Corps of part time soldiers in response to fears of invasion. In Army reforms before the First World War these Rifle Volunteers became a Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Today, many members of the Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums are from the Kent and Sussex area. The Group has adopted the title and scarlet full dress of the pre-1908 Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers as a mark of respect for those who served as Volunteers in the past.


What does The Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums do?
We provide a traditional British Army style Corps of Drums for the ceremony of Beating Retreat, and music and marching displays for Veterans' organisations, carnivals etc. For example in August 2007, as part of the commemorations for the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the Corps participated in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, and Beat Retreat at Zonnebeke in Belgium. In November, joined by Drummers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the Corps was on parade in The Lord Mayor's Show in the City of London.

Since then, among other engagements, the Corps has played at the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the TA at The Royal Dockyard in Chatham, Kent; at the Guards Museum in Wellington Barracks, London, and in support of several Royal British Legion and Army Benevolent Fund events. Check out their sites from the links page. Page: Links



1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums

Who We Are

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Is the Corps of Drums looking for volunteers today?

In a word: Yes! If you're interested in Britain's oldest military music and are either already a player of one of the Corps of Drums instruments, or are keen to learn, we would be delighted to welcome you. We have practice sessions once a month just outside Croydon, and, unlike our Victorian predecessors, welcome women to our ranks.


Contact - If you have an event at which you’d like the Corps of Drums to play or are interested in joining us as a player, contact Drum Major Geoff Fairfax MBE  geoff.fairfax@virgin.net

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