In the 17th Century you would probably hear an advancing army before you saw it. Getting a large body of men on foot to arrive at more or less the same time, they need to march - and that is best achieved with drumming. Marching tunes kept morale high and the men together. It was also realised that shouting out orders to be heard over the noise of battle or over distance was difficult, so critical orders - advance, attack, and retreat for example - were relayed by the drum. Thus drummers would have been the "walkie-talkie" of the day. It was then just a short step to making drummers official communicators with the enemy, and used to negotiate or to make arrangements for parleys.

Drummers therefore had as much importance on the battlefield as any soldier. In fact the role carried some considerable status. In summary, the jobs of drummers were:
- To provide a beat for an army to march to;
- To relay orders to the companies from the commanding officers (There were specific sequences of beats for each of the major orders);
- To act as messengers/runners both between officers of the same army, and between officers of the opposing armies during parleys;
- They would also play tunes along with other musicians in order to raise the spirits of the troops. Other musicians on the battlefield played instruments such as the fife (similar to a recorder or a flute) or in some cases bagpipes.

Drummers in the Sealed Knot are mostly used for marching to and from the battle or around the battlefield. However there is a growing enthusiasm for using drums more authentically to communicate manoeuvres. Most regiments take pride from their own drummers, and the Earl of Northampton's Regiment is no exception. On some occasions the Sealed Knot organises a mass turn-out of combined Parliamentarian and Royalist drums, and this is an impressively loud display that is great to be a part of.

The Earl of Northampton's Regiment of Foote has some 7 drummers and 4 junior drummers listed, and they are led by the Drum Major. As a drummer you are likely to be able to wear a smarter uniform than the common soldier in the Regiment, as befits your status. If you are considering drumming, consult with the regimental drum major before making any purchases. Initially it will be possible to loan you a drum and kit. Eventually you will almost certainly want to own your own drum, in the same way that pikemen buy their own armour and musketeers their guns. Please consult before you buy. As a general rule, bigger and undecorated drums are more authentic.

Being a drummer is a challenging, high profile but rewarding role critical to the overall performance - but one in which you are unlikely to be physically attacked. You don't have to be able to read music. As a rough guide, if you can dance you can probably learn how to drum. Even if you choose another arm, in the Earl of Northampton's Regiment you would be welcome to learn drumming just for the fun of it!

For further information about the regimental drummers please contact the Drum Major:
Ray Costello
Tel. 01442 822900


Civilians form an extremely large and important part of the regiment, and of the Sealed Knot. The regiment and the society are very much family oriented, with a diverse cross-section of people of all ages from all walks of life. Therefore many people find themselves unable for many reasons to take part in a physical role in a battle re-enactment, perhaps due to age, health, or family commitments. Other people simply choose not to engage in the battles, preferring to undertake non-combatant activities; after all, we aim to recreate what it was like living in the 17th century as much as what the battles were like.

Nearly half of all members of the regiment are registered as non-combatants or children, and this proportion is also fairly true of the whole society. For this reason there are many other roles that people can fill, or create for themselves. Children under 16 cannot go onto a battlefield, but this does not prevent them learning the skills-at-arms. The Sealed Knot runs a corps of Apprentices at Armes for children between 12 and 16, to teach them how to use the various weapons used on the battlefield. They can even receive promotion within the Apprentices, however any rank is lost once a child is old enough to graduate to the battlefield. There is also an impressive mock cannon, constructed by Brian Osborne of this regiment, which is used to teach children the drill routine of a gun crew!

The Baggage Trayne which operates on the battlefield has the purpose of bearing supplies and (most importantly) water for the troops. Soldiers can lose several pints of water during a battle, so it is crucial that there are sufficient water carriers to help prevent soldiers dehydrating.

Living History is a large and important part of what the regiment and the society does. The term is used to describe the nature of the authentic camp which can almost always be found at a re-enactment. Within the Living History camp will be found numerous authentic style tents housing a wide variety of characters living in authentic conditions. There people prepare and cook food over open fires, discuss the gossip of the day, whilst doing craftwork such as wood turning or metal working, wool spinning or even dentistry! There is room within the regiment for just about any 17th century character you can think of, if you would prefer not to take a combat role. For further information about civilian roles within the regiment please contact the Living History Coordinator:
Maggie Pingram
Tel. 01827 892920


Above: The second-in-command of the Drum Corps wearing full kit, and leading the other drummers in marching practice.

Above: We also welcome youngsters in the ranks as Junior Drummers (although they are not allowed onto the battlefield until age 16).

Above: Drums come in many shapes and sizes, but all need regular care and attention. Skins need looking after differently depending on whether they are animal skins or synthetic. Drums are rope-tensioned, and require frequent adjustment as the rope slackens.

Above: Children enjoy dressing up and having adventures as much as the adults do!

Above: This young lady is making tablet-weave, which involves intertwining different coloured wool threads.

Above: Wounded soldiers receive treatment from the barber-surgeon, seen here extracting a musket ball from an unfortunate casualty.

Above: An unruly drunken soldier ends up in the stocks as punishment.