King's Own Royal Regiment Museum

Lancaster

HOME
Museum & Collections
Sales
Donations
Events
Contact Us

REGIMENTAL HISTORY
17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

FAMILY HISTORY
Resources
Further Reading

PHOTO GALLERY
ENQUIRIES
FURTHER READING
LINKS


Regimental History

The Mysterious Story of King Theodore's Drum of Gold

Regimental history and folklore of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, and widely told also in the King's Own Royal Regiment, claims that King Theodore's Drum was a silver drum found by a bandsman of the 33rd Foot (1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment) at Magdala, Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in April 1868. 


Photograph of the entire "drum" taken in around 1928.
Accession Number: KO2929/21

It was decreed by Lord Napier, the commander of the expedition, himself that this drum should be divided into three and shared between the three British Regiments which took part in the campaign: 4th King's Own; 33rd Foot and the 3rd Dragoon Guards. 

This story appeared in print in the 1920s in the Journal of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and repeated in the King's Own Journal, The Lion and The Rose in 1928.  The photograph appeared along side the story and all appeared well.

In 1997 the three parts of the drum were re-united in Lancaster to mark the re-opening of the King's Own Museum following refurbishment.  It was now discovered that the three pieces of the drum would not fit together, the central section being far smaller than appeared in the 1928 photograph.  Further investigation discovered that the 1928 photo was a manipulated image from the photograph below.


The three parts photographed in around 1928.  This photograph was then used to make the above false photograph.
Accession Number: KO2929/22

Of course no one had ever questioned the story, nor the inscription on the King's Own part of the drum, which states "Half of one of King Theodore's Proclamation drums..."

Another drum, similar to that of the Duke of Wellington's Drum, is known to exist in India with one of the Indian Regiments which took part in the campaign. 

It may be that the mystery of the drum is never solved, but the myth is likely to be told, and retold, within the regiments concerned!

Please note none of these items are held within the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum, the photographs were taken in December 1997 when the drum was placed on temporary loan to the museum.


The drum of the King's Own Royal Regiment.  Inscribed "Half of one of King Theodore's Proclamation Drums taken at Magdala 13th April 1868.  See photographs below for enlargements of the details.
Accession Number: KO2929/01


The drum of the 3rd Dragoon Guards.
Accession Number: KO2929/15


The drum of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and now The Yorkshire Regiment.
Accession Number: KO2929/16


Selective enlargement of the affixed panel, the translation is shown below.
Accession Number: KO2929/16a


The drum of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and now The Yorkshire Regiment.
Accession Number: KO2929/17


"This Drum of Gold from Dejaj Match Ohbi which he gave to Queen Mennaen in the year of St. Mark 1757.  May his kindness not be forgotten say the Lord's Prayer for him."
Accession Number: KO2929/17a


33rd Regiment (Duke of Wellington's Regiment) Magdala, April 13th , 1868.
Accession Number: KO2929/17b


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/02


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/03


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/04


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/05


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/06


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/07


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/08


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/09


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/10


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/11


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/12


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/13


Close up of section of the King's Own drum.
Accession Number: KO2929/14

Please note none of these items are held within the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum, the photographs were taken in December 1997 when the drum was placed on temporary loan to the museum.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

2012 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum