Click here for the
2003 Hanging the Brick - Click here
for the 2004 Hanging the Brick -
for the 2006 Hanging the Brick
- Click here for the 2008 Hanging
This is a Sergeants’ Mess tradition which dates back to Waterloo in 1815,
and always takes place on a date in December prior to Christmas leave.
The Coldstream and Third Guards were defending the farmhouse of Hougoumont
which the Duke of Wellington later
described as the key to the battle. If Hougoumont had been lost, Wellington’s flank would have been turned and the
outcome of the battle may have been very different. As the French tried
to force the gates Sergeant Graham and Colonel Macdonell of the Coldstream managed to force the gates shut and so saving Hougoumont from capture.
- Some years later an English Clergyman left £500 in his will to be given
‘to the bravest man in England.’ Wellington was invited to nominate that man
and he chose Colonel James Macdonell. Macdonell immediately shared the money
with Sergeant James Graham.
- The origins of Hanging the Brick are obscure, but it is a ceremony that
has been carried out for a very long time. A large stone from Hougoumont in a
special cradle and, for that day only, takes on an importance similar to that
of the colours. The day before it is hung, the brick is placed in close
arrest in the Guardroom and it is then ‘game-on!’ Tradition has it that if
the Corporals and Guardsmen are able to capture the brick they can ransom it
for whatever they want. Consequently it is defended by the Mess ‘to the last
- Mess Members assemble in the Sergeants’ Mess attired in fancy dress. At
the appointed hour the Corps of Drums, also in fancy dress, arrive and the
Mess forms up behind them with the Sergeant Major acting as the Drum Major.
The Mess then marches to the Guardroom and collect the brick. The Point of
War is played by Drums as it leaves the Guardroom. The brick is usually
carried by the senior Mess Member who is shortly due to leave the army. The
escort is provided by a couple of senior Sergeants. The Mess then parade the
brick around the barracks and head for the Officers’ Mess where a drink is
provided. The parade then continues, heading back towards the Sergeants’
Mess. Invariably there will be several ambushes on route where the brick will
need to be defended with vigour!
(Image below) Hanging the Brick in ADEN - The Officers and Sergeants
Mess on Christmas Day!
- Once the brick is formally hung, he who touches it buys a barrel of beer.
Somewhat inexplicably officers junior to the Adjutant seem to be constantly
throwing themselves at the brick head-first in their rush to part with their
money and purchase beer for the good and benefit of the Sergeants’ Mess!
Officers senior to the Adjutant don’t have the same desires and LE Officers
are strictly Out of Bounds!
- The rest of the afternoon becomes somewhat hazy with lots of silly games,
plenty of scoff and couple of beers. However, during this phase it is not
unknown for the Guardsmen and Corporals to launch a sneak attack on the
brick. This has the added benefit of providing ‘volunteers’ for a bit of Mess
- After the festivities of the day the brick is hung above the bar until New
Hanging the Brick Images: