The 3rd Festival of the International Guild of Town Pipers
Lincoln: 27th, 28th & 29th June 2008

Another International Festival of Town Pipers has come and gone, this one the third – bigger and better than ever. From June 27th to 29th, the city centre of Lincoln resounded to the sounds of shawms and sackbuts as eight full bands of waits, from Colchester, Doncaster, Gloucester, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Kings Lynn, Leeds, Lincoln and York, joined at times by representatives of the Waits of Baggshotte and Ely, serenaded the good citizens of Lincoln and elsewhere, through the streets and at various historic sites. Lincoln was chosen as the venue in honour of the Waites of Lincoln, established since our 2006 festival in York.

The festival proper commenced with the mid-morning arrival from the Hull ferry of de Stadspijpers van ‘s-Hertogenbosch, followed by most other participants in time for lunch. Our home base for the festival was the United Reformed Church Hall on Garmston Street, where the church members were perfect hosts.

Our musical activities commenced after lunch, with the massed bands having a quick rehearsal of Van den Storm van Munster and Bruder Conrad’s Tanzmass, the pieces to be used at the start and end of our musical procession to a Civic Reception, under the direction of Master Christopher Gutteridge of the Kings Lynn Waites. Then it was time to change into our various liveries, climb to Castle Square and assemble for the afternoon’s formalities.

After performing Van den Storm van Munster in front of the castle, we processed down the hill to the Guildhall, led by the splendidly attired Terry Subbings, the Lincoln Town Crier, taking one detour to avoid the perils of Steep Hill, as each band in turn performed on the march. On arrival at the Guildhall, we were greeted by Councillor Ron Hills, the Mayor of Lincoln, whom we serenaded with a performance of Bruder Conrad’s Tanzmass. He appeared to enjoy this performance as he invited us in for a drink and the presentation of Lincoln Imp souvenir badges, to hear about the history of the city and the Guildhall, and to see the city silver collection including an early eighteenth century wait’s badge and chain. Our Lincoln colleagues were delighted to hear that the city proposes to make replicas of the badge for them to wear. We then processed back up the High Street, with music, to the church hall.

After dinner that evening at our hotel, the Holiday Inn on Brayford Wharf, the formalities concluded for the day.

Saturday dawned fair, and the last few participants arrived. We assembled at the church hall, and bands were dispatched to their first performing venues. We had six in all for Saturday – Castle Square, the top of Steep Hill, St. Martin’s Square, The Collection, the Stonebow outside the Guildhall and St. Benedict’s Square – and each band played at each in turn. It was appreciated that the Guild’s Patron, Professor Richard Rastall, was with us for the day. In the evening we headed for The Green Dragon for dinner, a few short words, and some fairly serious re-hydration therapy after the day’s exertions.

We were up bright and early on Sunday for performances, starting at 10 o’clock by each band at Brayford Wharf, the Stonebow and Exchequergate. These did surprise a few late night revellers staggering home. We also played hourly, on the hour, in Castle Square, reviving an ancient tradition of the waits “sounding the hours”. At 12.15, we all climbed the hill and assembled at Exchequergate for “The Big Blow”, reviving a tradition all of two years old when we had all played together on College Green in York in 2006. This year our band of shawms, sackbuts and curtals was the largest yet, with a total of around 45 musicians under the direction of Tim Bayley of the York Waits entertaining a crowd including the Mayor, the Sheriff and the Town Crier until 1.00. In addition to the members of the participating bands, we also had players from the waits of Ely and Baggshotte, and John Hanchett, who made most of the shawms being played, was in the audience. After “The Big Blow”, there were further performances at the Stonebow and sounding the hours at Castle Square, although the hour of four o’clock was sounded, because it started to pour with rain, by the Lincoln Waites back at the church hall.

Our festival visit to Lincoln was a great success, thanks to the efforts of the Directors of the Guild, the organising committee, and musicians and our volunteer stewards. We now look forward to our next festival in 2010, with more bands than ever.

Alan Radford