The 2011 Battle Proms at Hatfield House


The name Battle Proms comes from the Battle Symphony by Beethoven.  On an annual basis, this popular event takes place on the grounds of 400 year old Hatfield House, home of the 7th Marquess of Salisbury.

The whole concept of ‘Prom’  is to increase the popularity of classical music by playing at an informal setting, in which crowds can move around, eat, dance or whatever they choose. I performed all four actions last Saturday as I absorbed myself  in this charismatic event for the third time.

The crowd varied from young children to 90 year olds. We enjoyed everything from the beautiful orchestral pieces of music, the Napoleonic camp, the traditional fairground, a Diablo winestand but my personal favourites were the Infantry Displays (truly outstanding and a must-see) and the ever amazing 1812 Overture with its live canon fire.

The Sailor’s Hornpipe and Jerusalem brought a huge reaction (and maybe a joyfully patriotic tear or two!)  from the crowd, as did Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1.  The Grace Spitfire (which served in World War II) did acrobatics overhead as the orchestra played appropriate music in the background. I am not a fan of warplanes but this Spitfire experience sent shivers down my spine. And did I mention the fireworks? I must have taken about 50 photos of them in my desperation to capture the brilliant effect!

My children are pop music fans but have always enjoyed the Battle Proms, especially when the sun sets and little lights appear everywhere. My 12 year old said ‘I love  the sense of community and the way the crowd is so enthusiastic.’

If you want to share your experiences of Battle Proms, please add your comment below.

To note;  Hatfield House is twenty minutes from St Albans town centre. Good bus connections. More information on and Hatfield House events;


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Maria Larmer lives in St Albans and is married with four children. She works as a Freelance Writer, English Language Teacher and Teaching Assistant. She has lived in Auckland, New Zealand for 9 years and prior to that in France, Germany, Austria, Edinburgh, London and Ireland. Her diary-writing has featured on 'The Wild Geese' Channel 4 and Radio Verulam. She has written for Hertfordshire Life magazine, Go Camping magazine, Camping magazine, The Catholic Times, St Albans & Harpenden Review, New Zealand Times, The New Beacon, My Weekly and various websites. She can be contacted on