October 23 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Monday, August 11, 2014
England’s green and pleasant land was awash with waving union flags as prom-goers had a ball at Blickling Hall last night.
A “dancing” Spitfire, rousing wartime anthems, a special appearance by a horse who played Joey in the film War Horse, plus lakeside fireworks against a near-full moon added up to a vintage Last Night of the Blickling Proms.
And the 5,400 happy prom-goers were all safely tucked up in bed before any signs of party-pooping ex-Hurricane Bertha’s unwelcome arrival in Norfolk.
Crowds arrived at the National Trust’s Blickling Park estate, near Aylsham, in a variety of patriotic and period costumes, shook out the tablecloths, plonked the candelabra on top and tucked into their posh picnics and Pimm’s.
They included Diane and Michael Rivett, from Cromer, and Johnny and Emma Payne, from Aylsham, who had borrowed Downton Abbey-style costumes of about 1914 from the Sheringham Community Wardrobe.
“We got the chauffeur to drop us off,” joked top-hatted Mr Payne, who works at Coxford’s butcher’s in Aylsham Market Place.
His wife added: “It’s the third time we’ve been. It’s such a lovely atmosphere - being here listening to a beautiful orchestra in this lovely countryside. It’s what being British is all about.”
Two St Georges and a morris dancer were among the patriotic party of John and Lynne Mezzetti from Cromer, Barry and Sharon Jones, of East Runton, and David and Vicki Bumphrey, from Mundesley.
“We thought we’d dress up and make a night of it,” said Mr Bumphrey.
The party’s all-English picnic included a cream tea.
Eight family members from Caister, Blofield and Great Yarmouth, brought along a fold-up cardboard cut-out of the Queen to share their party.
The outing was a Christmas present for brothers-in-law Derek George, and Gordon Leech, both from Caister.
Their deluxe picnic included pepper stuffed with fennel, and salmon and prawn pate with Melba toast.
“I love the whole thing, especially the Spitfire,” said Mr George.
Ann Wootten, a Blakeney parish councillor, was marking her 90th birthday at the event while her daughter Louise Goodison and her husband Roland, from Blakeney, and Mrs Wootten’s son John and his wife Charlotte, from Aylsham, were all celebrating their 40th wedding anniversaries.
Conductor Rod Dunk led the Sinfonia Viva orchestra and singer Annette Wardell through a varied mix of classical, film and war music.
Pilot Carolyn Grace rolled and looped her Second World War Spitfire over the parkland in time to music including The Dambusters’ March, and Augustus, who played the young Joey in War Horse, walked through the crowd to the stage to John Williams’ War Horse anthem.
Although born in Aylsham, Augustus now belongs to AB Film Horses, and lives in Sudbury, Suffolk.
“We like to support local events,” said Liz Lambert, personal assistant to the company’s founder, Andy Butcher.
“Something like tonight’s fantastic. Augustus is trained and is used to noise, crowds and a pressurised environment. He didn’t mind at all when the Spitfire went over - he just kept on eating.”
Crowd members were on their feet for the final flag-waving sing-along to patriotic favourites Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory. The event ended in a fizz and flourish of finale fireworks.