Sunday, 24 July 2016

Althorp Literary Festival 2016

Althorp House was the venue for the 13th Althorp Literary Festival a celebration of the written word. In its first 12 years the festival has hosted great names from; actors, politicians, sportsmen and tv personalities. Such names as; Boris Johnson, Michael Palin, Darcey Bussell, Sebastiam Failks, Julian Fellowes and Sir Tom Stoppard.

Althorp was built in 1508 by the Spencer family and as it does now for over 500 years. It is a lovely walled 550 acre parkland in unspolit Northamptonshire countryside. It is also the final resting place of Princess Diana. The actual area for burial is on an island in an ornamental lake known as The Oval An ancient arboretum stands nearby, which contains trees planted by Prince William and Prince Harry, other members of her family and the princess herself


Althorp houses one of Europe's finest private collections of paintings, furniture and ceramics. I was impressed with the staircase leading to paintings of family members past and present. A recent addition is the painting of 'John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer' which was done from a photograph and not still life. I happen to know that the current Earl Spencer is particularly pleased with the result.

The big names at the Festival this year I suppose would be Bill Bryson, LoydGrosman, Anthony Horowitz and the biggest of them all in every sense Brian Blessed. Lots of others too of course over the four days including; Conn Iggulden who I am a big fan of and John Suchet who is an expert on Strauss. Unfortunately as luck would have it the two speakers I wanted to see where both on at the same time on the same day! Paul Gambaccini the hugely successful radio presenter and Simon Hughes 'The Analyst' and ex cricketer. In the end I opted for Paul Gambaccini although he wasn't here to talk music , instead his wrongful arrest as part of 'Operation Yewtree'. The interview was conducted by Earl Spencer himself in the splendour of the State Dining room. It was fascinating I have to say and there is no doubt that the powers at the top of the Metropolitan Police were after scapegoats after missing out on Saville.

 I have to say 'Gambaccini' is an excellent orator, and that voice, he could read the telephone directory and make it sound interesting. Had a brief chat with him afterwards about music , he was telling about about an interview he once did with 'Ritchie Blackmore'. I told him that I thought RUSH were the best band in the world and I got the impression he didn't disagree?

It was a real bonus to catch up with Simon Hughes as well. We had a lovely chat about all things cricket, in particular Northamptonshire. He was telling me about how he hated bowling to 'Allan Lamb' and what a character 'Wayne Larkins ' was. As with most of the speakers he was staying the night for Dinner and Breakfast although he was definitely tempted to join me for a pint in the local village pub.

It was a lovely way to spend a late afternoon and I look forward to seeing who is on the bill for next years Literary Festival which is slightly later in September.

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