The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall

Extracts from display text composed for two new permanent exhibitions:

150 Years of Kneller Hall
Regimental music in its earliest form was created by soldiers with the trumpet, fife and drum. It was not until the first part of the eighteenth century that military bands as such began to make their appearance. Civilian 'Masters of Bands' were hired to lead these bands. These leaders owed allegiance only to the officers who paid them.

In 1856 recognition of the value of military music, and the lack of any official organisation to provide it, led to the establishment of a music class by the Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal HRH The Duke of Cambridge, who formed the School of Military Music with the object of training Bandmasters from the ranks of serving soldiers.

For its home, he chose the historic building of Kneller Hall which was originally built in 1709 as the country house of Sir Godfrey Kneller, the celebrated portrait painter in the days of Queen Anne.

Bandsman Thomas Rendle VC
Thomas Edward Rendle is the only bandsman ever to receive The Victoria Cross. It was awarded for his actions on the 20 November 1914.

A heavy bombardment at Wulverghem, Belgium, destroyed 40 yards of already inadequate trenches. Artillery fire from aircraft hit 2nd Lieutenant R M Colebrooke. Rendle crawled to him and applied first aid, before clearing a path and carrying him to safety, luckily avoiding enemy sniper fire.

Rendle was invalided home with his sight badly affected by the high explosives. His VC was gazetted on the 11 January 1915 and he received it from King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 12 July 1915.

Rendle served the rest of the war as a musketry instructor, and in 1920 was invalided out of the army. He returned to his pre-war home in South Africa, where he became a part-time bandmaster with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles.


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