Music and the Band


The first set of CH officers and masters, appointed in 1552, included ‘a school-maister for Musicke’ who was described as a ‘teacher of pricksonge’, and  although his identity is not known, it is thought that singing was always taught, the first music master whose name is known  being William Meacocke in 1605. 

The Court Minutes in 1608 record that the Music Master, John Farrant, was required always to instruct 8 children in music, and to accompany them to Burials where CH boys were required to attend.  This was a reference to the practice of wealthy citizens who were concerned that their funerals might not be well supported, leaving CH a legacy on condition that CH boys attended. In effect, selling the services of its pupils and its choir was an early fundraising opportunity for the Governors of CH.

The music master was required to write the music for an annual Anthem from 1610 to 1862, to be sung at Easter in Christ Church as described more fully in this website under ‘Anthems’. 

The Music Master used to play the organ in Christ Church for the Sunday services which the boys attended, and at least three Music masters were also the organist at Christ Church.  Boys were taught to play on the Christ Church organ, and it is known that there was an organ in the CH Hall from at least 1672.  A full account of the CH music tradition to 1981 is given by Nick Plumley in his book ‘The organs and music masters of Christ’s Hospital’.

The Band, which is an important part of CH life today during the daily march into lunch, was first formed in 1868 and the tradition of pupils marching into lunch to the accompaniment of the Band started soon afterwards.  The view on the left shows the Band in London, and a photograph shows the band playing as the boys march into the Great Hall in 1896. Today, the Band also plays an important part on Speech Day and in the final ceremony of the year, Beating Retreat.  The Band is best known outside CH for the part which it plays in its annual  outings on St Matthew’s day  and in the Lord Mayor’s Show, as well as for its appearances at Lord’s and Twickenham.