Thursday, 18 December 2014

Elvis’s Cadillac Is In The Building! - Beaulieu National Motor Museum

Elvis's Cadillac
Lady Montagu with Cadillac Seville
The latest exhibit to go on display in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is the 1977 Cadillac Seville purchased and driven by the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. The Cadillac was purchased by Elvis in October 1976 for his own use and he chose the burgundy and silver colour scheme himself. The car is in original condition and still has the CB radio installed that Elvis used to communicate with the kitchen at Graceland and to the guard house outside Graceland, to open the gates.

One of the first people to see the car at Beaulieu was Lady Fiona Montagu, wife of the museum’s founder, Lord Montagu. Lady Montagu has been a life-long fan of the King and posed for a picture beside the car in her own version of Elvis’s famous Las Vegas white jumpsuit. Lady Montagu said: “I am a huge fan and had the costume made to wear at an Elvis themed fund raising evening we held in the museum last year in support of our Beaulieu education charity, the Countryside Education Trust.”

The Cadillac Seville V8 Automatic was manufactured by General Motors and the body custom built by Fisher for Cadillac. Its features include electronic windows and mirrors and a grey interior with wood grain accents on the dashboard, doors and steering wheel.

Previously auctioned in Las Vegas in 1994 and sold for $101,500 to a private collector, it again came up for sale in August when Graceland held its first ever auction. The auction coincided with Elvis Week at Graceland, which commemorates the legend's death on August 16th, 1977. All the items in the auction were offered from third-party collectors. Among the items were rare and unique artefacts from the collection of Greg Page, founding member of Australian children’s music group, The Wiggles, and one of the world’s biggest and most well-known Elvis Presley collectors. Page’s items included Elvis’s 1977 Cadillac Seville.

The car was purchased at the auction for $81,250 by Steve Horn as a present for his wife Suzannah. Steve and Suzannah who are great Elvis fans, run Europe’s Tribute to Elvis, an annual Europe tribute artist contest held in Blackpool with the winner taking part in the contest finals in Memphis. Explaining their decision to offer the car for display at Beaulieu, Steve said: “We wanted to give all of Elvis’s UK fans an opportunity to see his car and Beaulieu is the perfect location. We are delighted they could find a space for it.”

Other highlights of the Graceland auction included Presley's first-known signature – on a Tupelo, Mississippi, school library card – a handwritten set list from 1969 and jewellery, like the beloved lion's head pendant he wore while meeting President Richard Nixon.

The Cadillac was the last car Elvis purchased for his personal use and it was driven by him on the day prior to his death. It is believed that Elvis purchased more than 200 Cadillacs in his life; for himself, friends, family and even strangers. After his death it was gifted by his father, Vernon, to Elvis’s girlfriend, Ginger Alden.

The car is now on display in the National Motor Museum and can be seen as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction,

Monday, 8 December 2014

Discover ‘Life at Chatsworth’ This Winter with Behind the Scenes Talks and Artisans Showcase

The curious can discover what it takes to run one of the UK’s most prestigious country estates this winter as staff at Chatsworth deliver a series of entertaining talks throughout January, February and March - including two special opportunities to hear about what happens behind the scenes by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire themselves.

The two exclusive talks, entitled ‘Life at Chatsworth’, will see the 12th Duke and Duchess give an inside account on a decade spent occupying the magnificent estate, which has been passed down through 16 generations of Cavendish family and encompasses 30,000 acres of garden, farmland and parkland. Taking place in the Hartington Room at Chatsworth Stables on 5 and 10 March 2015, early booking is advised.

Chatsworth staff will be delivering a number of regular talks throughout the season, including Head Housekeeper Christine Robinson, who recently published her memoires in ‘Chatsworth: The Housekeepers Tale’. Christine, whose family have worked at Chatsworth for over 200 years, will reveal the motivation behind her book with an opportunity to have copies signed. 

The talks also feature Head of Gardens and Landscape Steve Porter on designers and fashion and their influence on the Chatsworth Garden; Textiles Department Supervisor Susie Stokoe revealing the secrets behind the Mortlake Tapestries; and Archeologist Oliver Jessop talking about glimpses of the Tudor House revealed by the Masterplan.

The talks will run most Fridays from 23 January 2015 to 6 March 2015 in the Hartington Room. Places need to be booked in advance and start at £12 per person. For more information visit

Winter visitors will also be able to enjoy a collection of fine artwork as the ‘Peak District Artisans’ return to Chatsworth, showcasing an eclectic line-up of artists, artisans and designer-makers from across the region.

The second exhibition to take place at Chatsworth, artists will include a variety of big names such as the award-winning Sue Prince and Ingrid Karlsson-Kemp. Earlier this year, Sue’s work was chosen for London Stories, an exhibition for the Serco Prize for Illustration at the London Transport Museum, whilst Ingrid’s display will include pieces created for her exhibition as part of Umea, Sweden’s Capital of Culture celebrations.

The spring exhibition will run daily between 10.30am and 3.30pm, from 7 January 2015 to 22 March 2015, where works from 36 ‘Peak District Artisan’ members will be on display in the Carriage House at Chatsworth Stables. Admission is free.

Chatsworth House, Garden, Farmyard, Shops and Restaurants all will remain open until 4 January 2015 (closed on 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January 2015). The house, garden, farmyard and Cavendish restaurant will re-open for the new season on 28 March 2015. The Carriage House restaurant and the gift shops at the stables remain open every day.

For more information on what’s on during winter, visit

Monday, 1 December 2014

Cheeky team of mischievous elves join Father Christmas present giving at Holkham this Christmas

Children will have the chance to enjoy a very special appointment just days before Christmas when Holkham Hall presents an audience with the great man himself. 

Father Christmas will be joined by his cheeky team of mischievous elves. Under the watchful eye of Mother Christmas, he will entertain the young audience with tales of wonderment and magic in the magnificently decorated and grand state room, the Saloon at Holkham Hall.  The ukulele- playing elves will have a colourful and musical repertoire to add to the entertainment.  Each child’s visit will reach an exciting finale with their very own personalised gift from Father Christmas. 

The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, December 20 and 21 and is recommended for children aged 12 years and under who will receive a personalised present. A special Christmas pop-up shop in the hall will give visitors the opportunity to browse for last-minute presents and festive treats after the performance.

The seasonal visit by Father Christmas is a highlight of a magical month of entertainment at Holkham, from the moment the doors open in early December. In the days leading up to his visit, there will be a magnificent line-up of festive activities and events, guaranteed to give everyone the very best Christmas experience before the big day. 
Visitors will be spoilt for choice with Holkham’s exciting festive programme that sees the hall traditionally decorated for Christmas for two weekends on December 6/7 and 13/14, when the fun-loving ukulele elves will join in the merriment, along with costumed characters, music and carol singing, story-telling and art activities, face painting and carriage rides, as well as festive food and drink and an opportunity to browse the Holkham gift shop for that perfect Christmas present.

The Marble Hall is the perfect backdrop for two evening musical concerts on December 5 and 13 and a weekend of Christmas theatre with Charles Dickens’ classic novel, ‘Great Expectations’ on December 20 and 21.

The return of Holkham’s popular mid-week candlelight tours of the hall will ensure there is something for all tastes.

Full details of Holkham’s Christmas programme in December and opportunities to book tickets online can be found by visiting