Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Gold medals and movie magic . . . a royal Olympic year for Burghley House

England’s greatest Elizabethan house will be offering visitors a unique take on Britain’s Olympic year including perhaps the most scenic place to watch the London 2012 Games – and the picturesque venue for a blockbuster summer feast of movie outdoor screenings.
Throw in fun family events, free-to-enter Fine Food Markets, summer picnics plus Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Lincolnshire’s Burghley House is setting its sights on a bumper 2012.

As Britain prepares for Olympic glory and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, one of the country’s most inspirational past Olympic champions is being celebrated at the ancestral home of Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted adviser.

Since being built 400 years ago by William Cecil, Lord Burghley - Elizabeth I’s chief minister - Burghley House has dominated the sweeping approach to the Georgian stone town of Stamford. Today, it still packs that ‘wow’ factor – offering a packed family day out with a combined ticket giving access to the House plus two gardens, including the Tudor-inspired Gardens of Surprise.

Regarded by many as England’s greatest Elizabethan house, Burghley has a unique claim to fame for its 2012 season - as home to an Olympic Gold Medal Winner and one of the key organisers behind the last Olympic Games to be staged in London. 

David Cecil, Lord Burghley (1905-1981), who inherited the title of Marquess of Exeter from his father in 1956, was one of the golden athletes of his generation. During a sporting career spanning more than a decade he won every available honour in his chosen discipline culminating in achieving gold for the 400 metres hurdles at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and silver in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics 4x400 metre relay.

Lord Burghley’s great talent as a hurdler and his life at Cambridge was the inspiration behind Lord Lindsay, one of the key characters in the film Chariots of Fire, played by Nigel Havers – a movie which features in Burghley’s summer night film outdoor screenings.

Burghley House will be dedicating its annual Treasury Exhibition to the Olympic connections and sporting achievements of the Gold medal winning Olympian. ‘An Olympian at Burghley’ will show memorabilia including his running outfit, medals and information about his sporting career.

And for those who want to watch the Olympics in a spectacular setting, Burghley will be throwing The Great Olympic Garden Party every day during the London Games. With the Elizabethan house as the backdrop, Burghley’s normally closed private South Gardens will host a Big Screen, showing TV coverage from Saturday 28th July to Saturday 11th August – and included for free with a normal house and gardens ticket.

Access to the screen will be available 10am to 10pm, last admission 6pm, with special late night tickets after 6pm at a reduced rate. A special Olympic Pass will also be available covering the whole period, while day tickets will be given as wristbands in the colours of the Olympic Rings. Visitors who collect all five will get free admission for the rest of the period.

A summer evening festival of outdoor screenings will feature four special film nights, launching on Saturday 28th July with iconic sports movie Chariots of Fire, followed by three other movie screenings on Wednesday 1st August, Thursday 2nd August and Friday 3rd August.

Fittingly for a house so closely linked to the first Elizabethan period, Burghley will also be joining in celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, while there will once again be children’s events in summer and autumn as well as the annual free-to-enter Burghley Fine Food Markets at Easter, summer and Christmas.

For full details visit or telephone 01780 752451.

Burghley, near Stamford in Lincolnshire, has been the home of the Cecil Family for over 400 years and is England’s greatest Elizabethan House. Burghley is owned and maintained by Burghley House Preservation Trust, which looks after a huge collection of great works of art, including one of the most important private collections of 17th century Italian paintings, the earliest inventoried collection of Japanese ceramics in the West, exceptional 18th century furniture and wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons and his followers. The Trust also maintains a 13,000-acre estate including residential, commercial and agricultural lettings, woodland and Burghley Park, which is open daily at no charge.

The House is open from Saturday 17th March to Sunday 28th October 2012 daily (except Fridays) from 11am to 4.30pm (Saturday 28th July to Saturday 11th August, open every day including Fridays, with Big Screen access 10am to 10pm, last admission 6pm). Admission: House and The Gardens of Surprise - adults £12.50; children (3–15 years) £6.30; seniors/students £11.20; family (2 adults & 2 children) £33.

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