HUNDREDS turned out for the colourful traditional spectacle of Beating Retreat at Hatfield Peverel on Saturday.
Although there were lowering dark skies, the rain kept off for the event's 54th year on the expansive lawn behind the 18th-century Crix House.
First into the field was the scarlet-clad band of the Chelmsford King Edward VI School Corps of Drums giving a display of precision marching and music.
Colonel Charles Thomas, chairman of Mid-Essex Army Benevolent Fund charity, explained that Beating Retreat is an historic military ceremony dating from the 16th century.
It is believed to be the way guards were alerted to their posts and for everyone else to retire for the night or risk being excluded from a war camp.
The ceremony first started at listed Crix House in 1958 at the invitation of Mrs Elaine Strutt, then the owner, and continued with other charity events until she sold the property to present owner Ian Twinley, who has continued the event.
The former Ford marketing chief for Europe, who now runs the John Grose vehicle dealership, said: "This is our fifth year here and we are delighted to have people share our garden."
Guest of Honour Lord Petre took the salute from the Essex Caledonian Pipe Band after their stirring display.
As well as the main lawn events, including the Blue Falcons gymnasts and Cambridge Army Cadet Band and the "sunset" ceremonial of lowering of the standard, there was a hog roast and a display of British, German and French Great War uniforms modelled by members of the Essex Army Cadet Force.
Tom Reilly, from Braintree, brought his children, Penny, 3, and Alicia, 18 months, to the ceremony.
"The little one seems to be loving it as much as any of us," he said.
"She keeps trying to get right into the arena for a better look.
"I have been to this event with my own parents when I was younger and thought it was a tradition the children should see."