[The First Band]

The First Band ?

Although the Salisbury and Winchester Journal of 1st June 1829 reports that the Fovant Club, a sick benefit club, ‘met and proceeded to Church, accompanied by their honorary members and an excellent band of music’ on the occasion of their anniversary, very little else is known of the early history of the band.

[The Band outside The Old Rectory] However, we do have some early photographs of the band. The one shown here (click on it to enlarge) is particularly interesting for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the bandsmen can be distinguished not only by their instruments but also by the fact that they are all wearing a ‘uniform’ cap the first recorded example of a uniform. Secondly, mixed in with the bandsmen are assorted other individuals, some of whom are holding staves/wands, two who have some sort of scarf tied round their hats and another who has a sash across his chest. Lastly, there is a group of young boys who are also holding staves/wands.

An educated guess is that is the occasion of the Fovant Club’s annual walk to the church after their celebratory breakfast at the Cross Keys. Of this occasion Dr Clay states that ‘each member carried a staff with a pinnacle-shaped head. The stewards had a small flag on their staves ... At the end of the day members gave their staves to the boys of the village to keep until next year. The boys were paid one penny each for this service’. All these elements are in the photograph, which was taken in front of The Old Rectory.

Other postcards and photographs fill in some of the gaps between then and 1939, but largely speaking the documentary evidence for the period is lost to us. However, records of the band from the mid-1950s onwards are now in our possession so this research is ongoing.

J.O.H.
October 2003

Content last updated
26 June 2006

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