Band 1790

This print of the band at St James Palace shows the drum-major at the front of the musicians. He wears a crimson scarf round his ample waist that is still worn by Guards drum-majors today. These scarves are mentioned in a royal warrant of 1672 as being of crimson taffeta trimmed with gold fringes up to 6 inches deep. The musicians, who are playing a variety of instruments including a serpent, a French horn and a bassoon. There are three distinct groups in this band, the musicians, the time-beaters and the Corps of Drums. Each group wears a different uniform. The time-beaters behind the musicians are led by two small figures wearing peakless shakos with plumes. The taller one beats a kettle drum and the tiny one has a triangle. Then come the three black men wearing costumes that are quite different from the other musicians but include the gold fringed scarf of the drum-major. Up until this time the musicians used in military bands had been civilians but when it was decided to use soldiers, they at first had to come from Germany. Amongst these Germans were three black men who were required to dress in exotic costume and act as time beaters.

The Corps of Drums behind them look very small. Presumably they are all boys, half of whom play fifes and half play side drums. The details of the uniforms are not accurate and the colouring varies from print to print. Behind the band march the Grenadier Company led by two officers, one of whom is an ensign carrying the Colour. See Colours

Band | Regimental details


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by Stephen Luscombe