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Mumping for Her Majesty

The Stalham Band has recently been playing for a very special listener.



Over 130 years ago, the owner of Stalham Hall in Norfolk decided to form a brass band to keep his farm labourers occupied during the dark winter days. Today Stalham Band is still in existence as the oldest band in East Anglia.

For the last month the band has been carrying out its yearly festive campaign of mumping, raising funds for the band and local charities.

Gone mumping

Many bands go out carol playing, but Stalham has always gone mumping.

The term’s origin seemed to have been lost in the past but it is now known that December 21st, St. Thomas’s Day, was also known as Mumping Day.

Traditionally, the poor went begging to the homes of wealthy landowners, probably singing to increase their appeal and in Norwich, the Christmas Waits singing door-to-door, were known as Mumpers.

Her Majesty was concerned as to how cold the players’ fingers got during playing. Both the guests and Royal Family complimented the players on their smart uniform turnoutTim Thirst

Royal invite

As Stalham Band’s mumping came to an end this weekend, the last household to be visited was something rather special. The band was invited by Her Majesty The Queen, to play carols to the Royal Family at Sandringham House in West Norfolk.

After finishing playing to the public in the afternoon at Stalham’s Tesco store, a few hours later the band arrived at the Queen’s Norfolk residence.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh stood with guests while the band, under Director of Music Tim Thirst, gave a half-hour performance of Christmas music. Members of the Royal Household staff also came to listen.

Royal chat

Tim Thirst from the band told 4BR: "During an interval, Her Majesty and Prince Philip chatted with members of the band about rehearsals, and the time commitment that players gave. Her Majesty was concerned as to how cold the players’ fingers got during playing. Both the guests and Royal Family complimented the players on their smart uniform turnout."

Rousing rendition

With a rousing rendition of ‘Hail Smiling Morn’ to end proceedings, Prince Philip then asked everyone to come together for a group photograph in the front entrance, before joining in traditional refreshments.

Without a doubt, a mumping to remember!


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Brett Baker

BSc (Hons), ARCM, PG Dip
Rath clinician, conductor, teacher, adjudicator, editor