A rare example of a bandsman’s white cloth tunic with red collar and cuffs. The tunic of the regiment’s officers and other ranks was scarlet. It lacks a number of buttons on the cuffs and skirt pockets and one tunic button. It has silver lace support for the absent shoulder ‘wings’. The name C. Mitchell is stencilled inside.
Bands of the militia, yeomanry and rifle volunteers were immensely significant in Victorian England, helping not only to stimulate the wider band movement but also to contribute to the increasing militarisation of society through exposure to military values. The band of the Royal Bucks King’s Own Militia, which was based at High Wycombe, was a familiar presence at a variety of county events, the bandsmen receiving additional pay from subsidies on the part of the regiment’s officers as well as remuneration from appearances. Notices were placed regularly in the local press to advertise its availability for fetes and garden parties. In 1860, one bandsman held out for £8 to appear at the united fete of the High Wycombe’s two institutes – the Literary Institute and the Scientific and Mechanics Institute – when the committee could only afford £6 and that had been agreed by the other bandsmen. As a result, a civilian band was secured instead. In April 1881 the terms offered by the RBKOM band were undercut by the band of the 1st Bucks Rifle Volunteers on the occasion of a meeting of the Buckingham Horticultural Society.
The RBKOM band appeared at such events as the Crendon Lane Chapel Bazaar in High Wycombe in August 1861; the Penn Harvest Home in September 1863; the Whit Monday joint procession of the Buckingham Oddfellows, Foresters and Tradesmen’s’ Provident Society in May 1866; the Quainton Bazaar in August 1872; the Marlow Regatta in August 1879; the Aylesbury Floral and Horticultural Society meeting in July 1888; and the Royal and Central Bucks Agricultural Association annual meeting at Wycombe Abbey in September 1888. It even provided music for ‘Professor’ Whitworth’s demonstration of electro-biology mesmerism in High Wycombe in April 1862. Generally, reports were very favourable. In April 1881, however, it was suggested that the ‘pudding-headed yokels’ of the RBKOM band – playing ‘music-hall tunes very much out of tune’ – were paid to go away from outside the Red Lion in High Wycombe on the night before Disraeli’s funeral!