Lords and Ladies love London 2012
The owners of four of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes have praised the Olympic Games for shining the spotlight on Britain’s fantastic built heritage.
George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon; Lady Ashcombe; William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire; and the Duchess of Northumberland all welcomed the way that historic venues like Greenwich Palace, Royal Horseguards’ Parade and Hampton Court have been used for sports alongside the new showcase venues in the Olympic Park.
Highclere Castle, Sudeley Castle, Chatsworth House and Alnwick Castle collectively welcome almost two million visitors a year, putting them among Britain’s top visitor attractions. Today they gave a briefing on what visitors can expect over the next 12 months and explained why the UK’s built heritage holds such an enduring appeal for overseas visitors.
“There is a continuing fascination with a certain type of British lifestyle,” explained the Earl of Carnarvon, whose own house Highclere Castle has shot to global fame in the last two years as the real-life setting for Downton Abbey. “My grandfather was a bit of a showman and he would be delighted to see the great house coming alive again with actors and film crews, not to mention all the visitors.”
Highclere is securing its own future as a visitor attraction by investing in new visitor facilities such as a wonderful new tea room in an outbuilding formerly used as a brewery. It is hoping to open more days a year once the filming of the next series of Downton is complete.
Just an hour’s drive from Highclere is Sudeley Castle, nestling in the glorious Cotswolds. An exhibition on Katharine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, is drawing visitors from around the world who are fascinated by that period of history. “Katherine Parr was the Tudor equivalent of Kate Middleton, bringing a certain style and glamour to court”, explains Lady Ashcombe.
In the middle of England is the rugged and beautiful Peak District, home to Chatsworth House, one of Britain’s most popular historic houses. Here the Duke of Devonshire prides himself on his contemporary art collections which he says “beautifully juxtapose the old and the new, just as the Olympic Games are doing for London.”
Further north still in Northumberland, Alnwick Castle – which was used for Hogwarts in all the Harry Potter films – has an ambitious project to develop its gardens and a playhouse, ”to make the house as busy in winter as it is in summer.” The Duchess of Northumberland is also developing her own line of cosmetics, using natural poisons and aphrodisiacs that would not be out of place in witchcraft.”
The Nations Brand Index currently ranks Britain 4th out of 50 nations in terms of built heritage, and over half of all Britain’s visitors take the opportunity to explore one or more of its historic sites and houses.
“Every part of Britain has something for visitors interested in heritage to appreciate and enjoy – from ancient stone circles, medieval cathedrals and farm cottages, to the grandest palaces, country houses and world renowned gardens,” says Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain.
For more information contact:
- VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, is responsible for inspiring the world to explore Britain and for developing the UK’s visitor economy.
- Americans made 2.8 million visits to Britain in 2012 and spent $3.7 billion USD (£2.4 billion). The US remains in the top spot in terms of market value for inbound tourism and is one of the top three most important markets in terms of visitor numbers.
- Visitors traveling to Britain can find out more information from visitbritain.us plus purchase money and time saving local transport, sightseeing, attraction, theatre and tour tickets from visitbritainshop.us
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