Lord Burghley’s legacy celebrated

Wednesday, 22nd June 2022

Lord Burghley’s legacy celebrated

HRH Princess Alexandra attended a Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the lasting legacy of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 22nd June 2022.

About Lord Burghley - Elizabeth I’s ‘Spirit’

Lord Burghley has been described as the man who made Elizabethan England work. Elizabeth I called him her 'Spirit,' and he managed the realm on her behalf from November 1558 until his death in August 1598.

Born in Stamford in 1521 and educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, he studied law at Grays's Inn. By the time he was 30 he was the Third Principal Secretary of Edward VI's Privy Council. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, she appointed Cecil her Principal Secretary. She recognised him as her most trusted adviser, uniting in his hands the powers of the Secretary of State, through whom all royal correspondence passed, and those of the Lord Treasurer and the Master of the Court of Wards.

A patron of historians, linguists, and theologians, he was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1559 until 1598 and was instrumental in founding Trinity College Dublin, in 1592.

About the service

‘A loyal public servant of rare ability’

The service was led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, who said in his Bidding:

'We meet in this place of memory and remembrance, a place where [Cecil] was High Steward, to acknowledge that he has shaped our history, as he shaped so much of the cultural and intellectual life of the first Elizabethan age. We remember a man of high and disciplined intelligence, a loyal public servant of rare ability, and a man of boundless energy and range.'

The Address, tribute, readings and more

The Address was given by the Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Chartres, and historian Dr David Starkey CBE gave a tribute.

The Lord Barnard, Viscount Cranborne and Marquess of Salisbury gave readings, and the prayers were led by the Reverend Mark Birch, Minor Canon and Precentor.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir, conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist. There were performances by London Viols before and during the service.

Further reading

A Service of Thanksgiving for Lord Burghley - Order of Service (PDF 764KB) 

Memorials to members of the Burghley family in the Abbey