Northamptonshire, Britain’s best kept secret, is a secret no more following the recent launch of its biggest ever campaign to attract visitors. The county, which boasts the best historic houses in the country, has had a bumper Easter with some attractions reporting three times the number of visitors seen last year.
Northamptonshire’s ‘Statelys’ feature prominently in the campaign and visitors to these houses are up countywide, including at Boughton House, Canons Ashby, Deene Park, Kelmarsh Hall, Lamport Hall, Stamford Hall and Holdenby House who saw numbers triple over the Easter period. Northamptonshire’s museums have also been busy. This positive trend extends beyond the local heritage sector, with website members Canoe2 outperforming previous years and Oundle based Tap & Kitchen experiencing its busiest Saturday on record.
Surprise Northamptonshire Spokesperson James Miller commented: “Since the campaign launch at Boughton House we have seen over 12,000 visits to the northamptonshiresurprise.com website, so news of a bumper Easter whilst hugely exciting is not unexpected. Northamptonshire’s audience is growing, but this is only the beginning.”
Charles Lister, Property Manager at Boughton House, added: “We experienced one of our busiest Easter openings at the Estate, so from our perspective the campaign seems to be working.”
The campaign continues to be supported by a partnership of major bodies locally including the County Council, Lord Lieutenancy, University of Northampton, Northampton Borough Council, Northamptonshire Arts Management Trust (which manages Royal & Derngate and The Core at Corby Cube), the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum, Northamptonshire Food & Drink Sector, plus all the county’s historic houses, sporting venues, gardens and churches. The ambition is to grow annual visitor spend by 50% to £1.5 billion.
So why is Northamptonshire Britain’s Best Surprise? Of course, there’s the stunning countryside, with its country parks, world class gardens, the Nene and Welland rivers and Grand Union canal. In this countryside sit the most magnificent historic houses in the country as well as some of the best Anglo Saxon, Norman & Gothic churches anywhere. It contains the birth place of Richard III, was the scene of Mary Queen of Scot’s execution, the cradle of The Gunpowder Plot, the place of Charles I’s imprisonment, as well as the Civil war battle that put him there, Naseby… arguably Britain’s most important battle.
But most surprising is that amongst all this beauty and history sits a very 21st century county. The place where 80% of the world’s F1 cars are built and the Grand Prix is held, where some of the country’s best artisan food and drink is made, and where the award winning Royal & Derngate produces some of the country’s best theatre. The place that makes the most prestigious shoes is also the inspiration for the international hit film and musical, Kinky Boots.
To enjoy all this you can stay in luxurious 16th century hotels or enchanting B&Bs and also enjoy a series of established food and literary festivals at Althorp, The Nene Valley Festival and Oundle Music Festival as well enjoy great sport at Silverstone, The Saints and The Cobblers.