How the Fife and Drum Inn Got Its Name
Visitors to Williamsburg have likely seen the famous Fife and Drum Corps marching through our historic streets from time to time. They are always present during bigger events like the Fourth of July fireworks and the lighting of the Williamsburg Christmas tree during the holidays, and they can also be seen marching down DoG Street during regular operation hours. In any case, over the years they have become an integral part of Colonial Williamsburg’s tradition.
Have you ever wondered how our inn came to be named after this well-loved troop of musicians?
Well, Sharon and Billy toyed with many ideas before deciding on the perfect name. Initially, they were thinking of something including “Hitchens” or “Webster,” after the building’s original owner. However, at the time they already ran two gift shops in the lower level of the building – Webster’s Incredible Gifts and Webster’s TOO! (Although no longer in business, we still have many visitors who remember the shops for their quirky, folkart gems in every corner.) Guests also remember “Cedar Crest,” the name of Webster and Mary Hitchens’ bed and breakfast, which operated half a century ago on York Street.
Finally, after much deliberation, Sharon’s mom, Yvette (known familiarly to us as Grammie), thought of the name. Grammie had worked for Colonial Williamsburg as a young woman, the first of three generations to follow who would put in their time in with the Foundation. Right away The Fife and Drum Inn was decided on, as it has as much symbolism for the family as it does for the area.
The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drum Corps is comprised of boys and girls ages 10-18 who live in or near Williamsburg. This is a decades-old tradition of our town and a coveted pastime – so enjoyed, in fact, that there is a waiting list for young people who would like to join. Once selected, they go through rigorous rehearsals and classes to learn to read music, march correctly and authentically to the period and recreate an accurate atmosphere to hear the Fifes and Drums as they may have been heard in the same air hundreds of years ago.
The owners’ son, Daniel, spent eight years as a drummer in the Corps. He started at age ten and “drummed out” in 1998.
The tradition has carried on in Williamsburg since 1958. For visitors, it is one of the most iconic symbols of our historic town and is recognized by people around the world. For natives of the area, the tunes carried by the wind-up and down Duke of Gloucester Street represent a sense of nostalgia for our beloved town.
Have you heard the Colonial Williamsburg Fife & Drum Corps yet? Check the Colonial Williamsburg calendar to see when you can catch them next. You can also learn more about the history of the Corps at Colonial Williamsburg’s site here!