Manual Ref* SUscWO006 Show 11 images 373

The drums to the Fore and Aft

County Suffolk   District Council Suffolk Coastal 
Civil Parish or equivalent Woodbridge  Town/Village* Woodbridge 
Road Theatre Street (New site since 2018) 
Precise Location Now outside Town Council (formerly in front of offices of Suffolk Coastal District Council Offices{ 
OS Grid Ref TM276495  Postcode IP12 
Previous location(s)  
Setting Outside building  Access Public 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
8th Earl of Albemarle  Sculptor(s)   

Commissioned by

Private commission by 8th Earl of Albemarle 

Design & Constrn period

1901, the cast may be later since the foundry only adopted the name A.B.Burton in 1902, after the death of the other partner, A.J. Hollinshead 

Date of installing


Exact date of unveiling



Abstract Animal Architectural
Commercial Commemorative Composite
Free Functional Funerary
Heraldic Military Natural
Non-Commemorative Performance Portable
Religious Roadside, Wayside Sculptural
Temporary, Mobile Other  

Object Type

Building Clock Tower Architectural
Coat of Arms Cross Fountain
Landscape Marker Medallion
Mural Panel Readymade
Relief Shaft Sculpture
Statue Street Furniture War Memorial
Other Object Sub Type: Sculpture of drummer boy and bugler

Subject Type

Allegorical Mythological Pictorial
Figurative Non-figurative Portrait
Still-life Symbolic Other

Subject Sub Type

Bust Equestrian Full-length
Group Head Reclining
Seated Standing Torso
Part Material Dimension
Drums to the Fore  Bronze  H. 1.80 metres W. 80cms 
Plinth  Bronze  H. 26 cms. W. & D. 1 metre 
Base  Stone  H.46 cms. W & D. 1.46 metres 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


Formerly Suffolk Coastal District Council, now Woodbridge Town Council 

Listing status

Grade I Grade II* Grade II Don't Know Not Listed

Surface Condition

Corrosion, Deterioration Accretions
Bird Guano Abrasions, cracks, splits
Biological growth Spalling, crumbling
Metallic staining Previous treatments
Detail: Restored before removal

Structural Condition

Armature exposed Broken or missing parts
Replaced parts Loose elements
Cracks, splits, breaks, holes Spalling, crumbling
Water collection Other


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate
Inscriptions On plaque, when surveyed May 2007: The drums to the fore & aft Sculpted by Arnold 8th Earl of Albemarle/And placed here in memory of/Walter 9th Earl of Albemarle/ January 1988 /cast by 8th Earl of Albemarle 1901/ and presented to the Council in memory of 9th Earl/ by his widow Diana Countess of Albemarle in 1980 2015 plaque reads:The DRUMS OF THE FORE & AFT/ Sculpted by Arnold 8th Earl of Albemarle/And placed here in memory of/Walter 9th Earl of Albemarle/ January 1980 

Description (physical)

A drummer boy arrogantly turning his head to his left peers from under his large helmet as he beats the signal to attack (the drumsticks are replacements; in 2007 they were wooden). He protects his companion the young bugler slumped, his head thrown back, eyes closed in death, his bugle abandoned on the ground. While the sculpture can be viewed from all sides, the main and most effective view is frontal from across the road. Albemarle's military experience can be seen in the loving detail of their costume, the epaulettes and gaiters as well as the extremely accomplished details of the drum. The sculpture illustrates Kiplng's story of the Afghan war first published as No. 6 in the Indian Railway Library as Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories in 1888 and collected in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories in 1895, and in numerous subsequent reprints of that collection. The men of an untried regiment known as the Fore and Aft at first fled from the Muslim fighters leaving the youthful drummer boy stranded together with his bugler companion. Fuelled by the alcohol in their flasks and bravery they rallied the regiment. An obviously amateur piece but the moving representation of the dead bugler must reflect the 8th Earl's experience of the Boer War in the previous year, where he successfully where led five companies of the City Imperial Volunteers, at the Battle of Doornkop on May 29 1900. His tactical commmonsense in advancing in short rushes, contrasted with the advance of the regular Gordons, marching at a steady pace towards the Boers and as a result suffering ninety-four casualties, including twenty-one killed. Albemarle's choice of subject with the prominent drummer boy may have influenced William Goscombe John's inclusion of the seated drummer, albeit in eighteenth century costume, at the rear of his Memorial to the King's Liverpool Regiment, commissioned for St John's Gardens, Liverpool in 1902 and ready three years later. It ainfluenced the pose and grouping of Adrian Jones' Royal Marine Memorial of 1903 on the Mall near Admiralty Arch. There is no obvious connection between the Albemarles, whose family home was in Quidenham, Norfolk where they had close connections, rather than with Suffolk and Woodbridge. The earlier history of the sculpture is not known. 

Description (iconographical)

Lt.-Col. Arnold Allen Cecil Keppel was born 1858 and educated in Eton. He succeeded to the title of 8th Earl of Albemarle in 1894. He fought in the Boer War in 1900 where he was mentioned in despatches and won a medal with four clasps. Subsequently he served as Aide-de-Camp to Edward VII and George V (later Lord-in-Waiting). His son Walter Keppel the 9th Earl of Albemarle was born in 1882 and died in 1979 Information on the changed inscription Nigel Barratt August 2015 Additional photographs, Sarah Cocke, and minor revision to text, Richard Cocke 04/08/2018; 


Date taken:  5/5/2007
Date logged: 

Photographed by:
Sarah Cocke

On Site Inspection

Date:  5/5/2007

Inspected by:
Richard Cocke

Sources and References 05/05/07; Darke, Jo, The Monument Guide to England and Wales, London, 1991, 191; pix/lew.jpg accessed 31/03/2009; Cavanagh, T., Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, 177-180; A.B. Burton', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [; Press release, Woodbridge Town Council, 'Renovation and Relocation of The Drums to the Fore and Aft (The Drummer Boy)', 21 February 2018 


Date entered:  14/5/2007

Data inputter:
Richard Cocke