Northamptonshire – Althorp Battle Proms
Princess Diana’s childhood home and final resting place, Althorp is a beautiful 14,000 acre country estate in the heart of Northamptonshire.
Among many other attractions, not least the ancestral home, Althorp Park hosts the spectacularly British Battle Proms every year.
The 2013 event will take place on August 10, but this article, written about the 2009 Proms, gives a taste of what to expect…
An Indian girl stands in front of the stage dancing to Irish folk music and waving her Union Jack flag as if her life depends on it.
A pair of pensioners hold hands, sup Champagne and spring to their feet to sing ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory.’
A generous stall owner hands over a small, cuddly toy to a pretty little girl in a red dress after she knocks six tin cans flying with a bean bag – a game he refused to allow her to pay for.
Thousands of people sit round picnic baskets, trestle tables, rugs; under fancy gazebos or simply the Northamptonshire sky as it turns from bright sun to an English summers evening to the chill of a night lit up by lanterns and laughter.
There is hot soup, rolls, buckets of salad and quiche, toffee puddings and cake. Champagnes, red and white wines, Pimms, a lone bottle of Tia Maria.
The pretty tree lined fields of the ancestral home of a tragic Princess provide the backdrop for Napoleonic cavalry, cannons and a graceful Spitfire.
For Mendelssohn, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Puccini. Music that fills the soul and excites the senses.
The French cavalry receives mock boos, the English are cheered as they send cabbages sprawling from the top of spikes; flags swirl in the night air at the excitement of this green and pleasant land of hope and glory.
Earlier the Spitfire, piloted by Carolyn Grace, swooped and soared through the sky in a way its sucessors can only dream of. This plane, built in 1944 for darker times, brought cheers from a crowd encompassing every age from two to 62 and beyond.
Pensioners and children swirl past as they waltz into the night, the strain of the bagpipes wafts across the field and more corks pop out of bottles brandished with a smile.
The crash of cannon fire stirs hearts and fireworks excite tiring eyes, Chilean wine works into the blood of thirsty watchers and the orchestra moves towards it grand finale.
The roar of the crowd as first Jerusalem, then Rule Britannia and finally Land of Hope and Glory light up the ever darkening night.
Happy faces, patriotic hearts led by souls filled with music from a dozen different lands as they move back to vehicles and the comfort of their homes.
This is Battle Proms.