LORD Montagu of Beaulieu opened a £500,000 adventure play park as figures from the world of entertainment looked on.

The 59-year-old peer addressed a large crowd at the newly-built Little Beaulieu after dressing up as a circus ringmaster, complete with a scarlet tailcoat and a black top hat.

He delivered his speech in a style which evoked memories of Leonard Sachs announcing acts on the long-running TV show The Good Old Days.

Sachs specialised in elaborate introductions using long and obscure words. The longer the word, the louder the cheer he received from the audience at the Leeds City Varieties music hall, where the show was filmed.

Holding a large scroll and standing with his arms outstretched Lord Montagu ended his speech by declaring: "I welcome you all to Little Beaulieu!"

Daily Echo:

Seconds later a short fireworks display was followed by scores of children charging up the entrance ramp to explore the new attraction.

After performing the opening ceremony Lord Montagu tried out a zip wire which forms part of the new attraction.

Guests included one of Hampshire's best-known celebrity couples. Sarah Parish, star of Atlantis, Broadchurch and Bancroft, was accompanied by her husband, fellow actor James Murray, whose TV credits include 6 Underground and McDonald & Dodds.

TV historian Dan Snow, who lives in the New Forest, was also there.

Daily Echo:

Little Beaulieu is a small wooden palace which draws on the heritage of Palace House - Lord Montagu’s ancestral home - and the ruins of neighbouring Beaulieu Abbey.

The fantasy play area is crammed with quirky features and secret passageways.

Visitors are able to slide through grand fireplaces, peek out from behind portraits and crawl through a trick bookcase to explore every nook and cranny of the new attraction, which boasts turrets and a clock tower.

Little Beaulieu also includes a secret staircase, a giant spiral tube and a fireman’s pole.

Children can tackle the rope maze room, then follow the treetop boardwalk to the observation tower to get a bird’s-eye view at the monorail as it rumbles past.