What’s in a date? England’s first chief spymaster turns 500… again

Burghley, one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses, will be marking the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of Elizabethan England’s most powerful figures – and the man who built the magnificent Lincolnshire country house.

While 2020 was planned as a year of celebration to mark the life, times and achievements of William Cecil, the Queen’s most trusted minister and the country’s first chief spymaster, events had to be cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

But now Burghley House is set to mark the anniversary in 2021 – and can claim good reason for doing so.

Befitting his role as a keeper of secrets, Cecil – who was born at Bourne, near Stamford – gave two different dates for his birth. Most scholars believe his real birthday was 13 Sept 1520, but Cecil himself gave the date of 13th of September 1521, and often switched between the two dates during his lifetime, though he used the earlier date for his will.

So, Burghley is set to switch this year’s planned celebrations to next year, making 2021 the year to remember for the Lord Burghley 500 anniversary,

He may have none of the glamour of Raleigh or Drake, but for Queen Elizabeth I, he was by her side for 40 years and Burghley House will celebrate the birth and lasting legacy of Cecil, who, as the court’s most powerful man, helped shape British history. He was not only Elizabeth I’s chief intelligence gatherer, but also involved in everything from diplomacy to gardening. Burghley House was built and mostly designed by Cecil, between 1555 and 1587, as a tribute to his Queen.

For the latest details on 2021 opening times, planned events and to book online tickets, visit www.burghley.co.uk or telephone 01780 752451.