Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Lord Coe gift offers visitors to England's greatest Elizabethan house even more history in 2013

Burghley house has wrapped up an Olympic year of celebration with a unique gift from the man who spearheaded Britain's hugely successful London 2012 Games.

Ancestral home to David Cecil, Lord Burghley (1905-1981) - an Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler who helped deliver the 1948 London Games - Burghley celebrated its sporting connections with an exhibition of his sporting achievements as well as special events in 2012.

Among exhibits on display during the year long exhibition was an original Olympic torch from the 1948 London Games - and Burghley, near Stamford, welcomed the 2012 version during a torch runner hand-over as part of the Olympic Flame's triumphant UK summer relay.

Now one of the 2012 torches has returned to the Lincolnshire historic house… thanks to the generosity of Olympics supremo Lord Sebastian Coe.

The gift means that England's greatest Elizabethan house has the honour of being home to not one, but two Olympic torches from two different Games.

Fittingly Lord Coe was at Burghley in July to welcome the torch as it changed hands in front of the house, which was home to Lord Burghley, a celebrated Olympic athlete and the man who was effectively the Lord Coe of his day for the last London Games, in 1948.

Lord Coe also carried the torch himself in his hometown of Sheffield and like all runners who took part in the nationwide relay he got to keep his torch as a memento. And he has decided to donate his torch to Burghley so that it can go on display alongside Lord Burghley's 1948 torch in the permanent Olympic Corridor exhibition within the House in 2013.

"We're so grateful to Lord Coe for his very gracious gift which will add a special bit of sporting history to Burghley's remarkable collection" said Miranda Rock, Burghley House director.

And she added: "It's been a pleasure this year seeing so many visitors appreciating my grandfather's sporting legacy thanks to the wonderful exhibits we were able to display as part of our Olympics exhibition, including the torch from the 1948 London Games.

"Welcoming the 2012 torch to Burghley in the summer was among our highlights of the year and we were so grateful that Lord Coe took time out of his busy schedule to share that special day with us. Now his gift of his own Olympic torch will mean visitors to the house next year will be able to see even more Olympic history in this very special place.”

Hurdler David Cecil, Lord Burghley, who inherited the title of Marquess of Exeter from his father in 1956, was one of the golden athletes of his generation, winning gold for the 400 metres hurdles at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and silver in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics 4x400 metre relay.

Once he retired from active sport, he worked hard for amateur ideals within the Olympic movement. As President of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, Chairman of the British Olympic Association and a member of the International Olympic Committee, he was instrumental in bringing the Olympic Games to England in 1948 and was also chairman of the Organising and Executive Committee for those Games.

During his time at Cambridge, Lord Burghley - as he was then known - was also the inspiration behind one of the key characters in the movie Chariots of Fire, played by Nigel Havers. A famous scene in that film was also inspired by one of Lord Burghley’s feats – the race around the Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge, against fellow athletes, when he became the only person to sprint around the courtyard before the college clock tolled 12 times.

While the Olympics exhibition ended when the House closed for the season at the end of October, Burghley’s permanent Olympic Corridor display returns for the 2013 season. The expanded exhibition will also now include both the 1948 and 2012 Olympic torches.

For full details of 2013 opening times and prices visit or telephone 01780 752451.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Centuries old gardens design scoops top modern day award for Woburn Abbey

 Woburn Abbey and Gardens are delighted to announce that the completion of a pavilion designed over 200 years ago has won the prestigious New Commission category of the 2012 Hudson’s Heritage Awards.  The striking red, green and gold pavilion in a Chinese-style was the inspiration of Humphry Repton, the famous landscape gardener, and sits on top of the attractive rockery in the gardens of Woburn Abbey, family home of the 15th Duke and Duchess of Bedford.


In 1802 Repton was commissioned by the 6th Duke to produce designs for enhancing the gardens and deer park and create interest for visitors.    The rockery and pavilion together were one part of Repton’s plan for formal ‘Pleasure Grounds’ at Woburn Abbey and illustrations of all of Repton’s designs and ideas were collated in his Red Book (1805), still held at the Abbey today.  Woburn has the most plans of Repton’s realised in the UK, but until this year the rockery stood uncompleted.

For the past seven years the Family along with the Estates Gardens Manager Martin Towsey and his team have been working tirelessly to restore Repton’s original plans for the ‘Pleasure Gardens’, which have also included an aviary and Children’s Garden.   In 2009 the Abbey Gardens team began restoring the rockery, which had suffered badly from weather over the years and was overgrown with trees, with the ultimate goal of recreating Repton’s original illustration.    In 2011 F Martin Ltd were commissioned to build the pavilion and together with the Abbey Gardens team constructed it on top of the rockery.  It took four weeks to build and a week to construct on site.  The entire project was successfully completed this summer and officially opened by Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford at the Woburn Abbey Garden Show.

The pavilion and rockery are on public display within the Abbey Gardens.  
For more information, visit or call 01525 290333.

Woburn Abbey Gardens Opening Times
Until 21st March 2013:10am to 4pm (last entry), closed 24th to 26th December 2012
22nd March to 3rd November 2013: 10am to 5pm (last entry)
4th November to 31st December 2013: 10am to 4pm (last entry) Friday, Saturday and Sunday only

Location of Woburn Abbey and Gardens
Just south east of Milton Keynes, Woburn Abbey is signposted from junctions 12 and 13 of the M1. It is also easily accessible from the A5.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Beaulieu wins Large Attraction Gold Award

At the 2012 Beautiful South Awards for Excellence gala dinner held at Denbies Wine Estate, hosted by Toby Anstis from Heart FM radio and TSE Chairman Ken Robinson, Beaulieu received the Gold Award in the Large Attraction category.

In its 60th anniversary year, more than 400,000 visitors from all over the world have visited the Beaulieu attraction, giving it its best visitor numbers since the mid 90s.  A big part of this success has been the opening of BOND IN MOTION, an exclusive exhibition, the largest of its kind staged anywhere in the world, featuring 50 original vehicles from the James Bond films, including some of the best loved and most iconic.

Beaulieu’s Commercial Director, Stephen Munn said: “Beaulieu was one of the first stately homes in England to open its doors to visitors in the early 1950s and I am delighted that in its 60th anniversary year it continues to flourish.

“The attraction endeavours to offer something for all ages and tastes and its latest exhibition BOND IN MOTION has brought a whole new audience to the attraction since its opening at the beginning of the year. We are delighted to be the recipients of this prestigious award in such a special year for Beaulieu.”

Beaulieu also received Silver Awards in three other categories;  Access for All Tourism, Tourism Event of the Year, for the International Autojumble, and its in-house caterers, Leith’s, for Business Tourism.

In addition Beaulieu has received a Highly Commended Award for its Shopping Experience in the 2012 Hudson’s Heritage Awards and a Highly Commended in the Visitor Attraction category at this year’s Bournemouth Tourism Awards.