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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org