Burghley: Bermuda’s Olympian Governor

March 31, 2012

Known as the “Lord of the Hurdles”, one-time Bermuda Governor Lord David George Brownlow Cecil Burghley [1905-1981] was one of the most popular gold medallists at the 1928 Olympic Games [he is pictured here on his way to winning the 400 metres hurdle event].

Heir to the Marquess of Exeter, he first appeared in the Olympics in 1924, when he was eliminated in the first round of the 110 metre hurdles.

In 1927, during his last year at Cambridge, he caused a sensation by running around the Great Court at Trinity College in the time it took the Trinity Clock to toll 12 o’clock. A fictionalised version of this event was featured in the 1981 Oscar-winning film “Chariots of Fire”, in which the feat is credited to fellow British athlete Harold Abrahams.

For this reason, Lord Burghley, who was then 76 years old, refused to allow the filmmakers to use his name — his character, played by Nigel Havers, is referred to as Lord Lindsay.

An aristocrat renowned for his common touch, he was once called “the only athlete who can look at 35 Rembrandts in his own home, then jog through 40,000 acres without leaving his own domain.”

At the 1928 Olympics, Lord Burghley won the 400 metres hurdles. Elected to the British House of Commons in 1931 he was granted a leave of absence to compete in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, where he won a silver medal in the men’s 4×400 metre relay.

Appointed Governor of Bermuda in 1943 at the age of just 38, he served here until the end of World War Two in 1945. The posting of Lord Burghley to Bermuda was “generally welcomed [on the island] as indicating a young and vigorous approach to the problems that are vexing the colony at present, especially the downward moral drift of young persons”, the “New York Times” reported at the time.

A colourful and commanding character, he once set another unusual record by racing around the upper promenade deck of the ocean liner “Queen Mary” in 57 seconds, dressed in street clothes. A brass plaque was installed on the ship to commemorate the event.

Lord Burghley And His Family Pictured Outside Government House, Bermuda In 1945

Burghley

And when he had an artificial hip joint replaced in 1970, he made the original device a radiator ornament for his Rolls-Royce.

Lord Burghley — who succeeded his father as Marquess of Exeter in 1956 — is believed to be the first hurdler to place matchboxes on hurdles and practice knocking over the matchboxes with his lead foot without touching the hurdle.

After leaving Bermuda, he served as president of the British Amateur Athletic Association for 40 years, president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation for 30 years and as a member of the International Olympic Committee for 48 years.

He was also chairman of the organising committee of the 1948 London Olympics.

There is an illustrated  ”Life” magazine profile of Lord Burghley published shortly before he left Bermuda here.

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, Entertainment, Films/Movies, History

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Articles that link to this one:

  1. Mr. Cooper Builds His Bermuda Dream House | New York News Feed | February 24, 2013
  1. pleased onion says:

    My mum was in Davina, one his daughter's, class at BHS & they are still friends to this day too . . . Very down to earth!
    Burghley House is magnificent, if you ever get he chance to visit Stamford, Lincolnshire.

    Like(0)
    Dislike(0)

Latest Podcasts

Podcast: Baron On Crime, Road Safety & More

Podcast: Baron On Crime, Road Safety & More

In this latest Bernews podcast, we speak to the Minister of National Security Jeff Baron who revealed than gang membership has dropped by more than 150 people. Yet, he says, gangs are still changing and recruiting – sometimes even from schools.

The Minister talks about his plans for restorative justice – which focuses on both the needs of the victim as well as the offender, plus the community that is involved.

Mr Baron talks about his stance on policing in St. George’s and stands [...]

Share via email
August 30, 2016 | 8 Comments
Podcast: Governor On Airport, Commission, More

Podcast: Governor On Airport, Commission, More

In this latest Bernews podcast, we interview George Fergusson who will soon be stepping down as Governor.

He touches on a wide range of issues such as turning down a request to hold a Commission of Inquiry into the Tucker’s Point land matter, the airport redevelopment, the effect on Bermuda of Brexit, the British Government’s stance on slave trade reparations and more.

And Mr Fergusson re-iterated his belief that the Commission of Inquiry into issues highlighted by the Auditor General’s reports was [...]

Share via email
July 25, 2016 | 9 Comments
Podcast: MP Furbert On Same Sex Marriage Bill

Podcast: MP Furbert On Same Sex Marriage Bill

Bermuda is on “good grounds” regarding same sex marriage, based on what other countries around the world have done, according to MP Wayne Furbert.

Mr Furbert — who tabled amendments to ensure marriage was enshrined as being between a man and a woman — was responding during a Bernews podcast interview to a statement from the Human Rights Commission.

He refuted that for many – the recent referendum failed to attract 50 per cent of those eligible to vote – same sex [...]

Share via email
July 14, 2016 | 53 Comments
Podcast: Ross Webber & Sean Moran Of BDA

Podcast: Ross Webber & Sean Moran Of BDA

What does International Business means to Bermuda and what role does the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BDA] play? That is the question we looked at during our most recent Podcast, where Chris Famous sits down with Ross Webber and the Sean Moran of the BDA.

Ross Webber joined the BDA as CEO in 2014, having served as a Board Director since inception, while Sean Moran is a Business Development Manager at the BDA, a role he has held since August 2014.

The BDA [...]

Share via email
July 7, 2016 | 0 Comments
Podcast: MP Leah Scott On Politics & More

Podcast: MP Leah Scott On Politics & More

OBA MP Leah Scott was aware of talks between former Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell and the PLP about forming a coalition government, she said in the latest Bernews Podcast.

And asked if she supported Mr Crockwell, who has since resigned from Cabinet, she said: “Yes.” Asked how she knew, she said she was friends with Mr Crockwell and they talked about it.

Asked if it was something she would have joined, Ms Scott said: “If it was something that could have been [...]

Share via email
June 23, 2016 | 20 Comments