Time-beater 1829


There was traditionally a distinction between Drums and Fifes and other musicians in military bands so men who beat drums and were not in the Corps of Drums were called time-beaters. The black time-beater was dressed in flamboyant costume that had some military aspects but bore no relation to the regimental uniform or that of the other musicians. He is, however, subject to the same order as everyone else when it comes to the wearing of white summer trousers. The Eastern style head-dress of turban and crescent originates in Turkey. In 1730 the Sultan of Turkey sent, as a gift, an entire military band in full costume to King Augustus II of Poland. It included a wide variety of percussion instruments never heard or seen before in England, little marching kettledrums, triangles and cymbals and - a big bass drum. This export had an enormous influence on military bands for many years and our big bass drummer is a direct result.

This print by E Hull is a very good depiction of a man who must have been a well known character in the Grenadier Guards but whose name is not known. We can see this figure in the background of Officer c1835 and also State Dress 1829.


Band | Regimental details




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by Stephen Luscombe