Althorp

Althorp ( /ˈɔːlθɔrp/ or /ˈɔːltrəp/) is a country estate of about 14,000 acres (60 km2) and a stately home in Northamptonshire, England. It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) north-west of the county town of Northampton. The late Diana, Princess of Wales is buried in the estate.

History


The estate has been the ancestral home of the Spencer family since the 16th century. Their fortune derived from its earliest known ancestor, Sir John Spencer of Wormleighton, Warwickshire, who bought Althorp in 1522 with the huge profits from his sheep-rearing business. The house was originally a red brick Tudor building but its appearance was radically altered in the 18th century when the architect Henry Holland was commissioned to make extensive changes. The interior of the house is generally considered its strongest asset as the Spencer family has assembled an impressive collection of portrait art including several pieces painted by the Flemish master Anthony van Dyck. The estate stable block has been converted into an exhibition devoted to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales and provides an attractive sandstone setting that effectively offsets the imposing facade of the house. Diana was interred on a small island in the middle of a lake near the estate. In September 2009, Lord Spencer started a major restoration project repairing the roof, stonework and the mathematical tiles which clad the building.

Access


The estate and house are open to the public during the summer months (1 July to 30 August) All profits made are donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The estate was first opened to the public in 1953, by the 7th Earl Spencer, to mitigate against taxation. The estate had its own railway station called Althorp Park on the Northampton Loop Line until 1960. When the royal train visited for the public funeral for Diana, it travelled instead to Long Buckby railway station.

Village of Althorp


Within the grounds there are earthworks of the lost Village of Althorp on which the estate was built.

Bibliography


  • Spencer, Charles (1998) Althorp: the story of an English house. London: Viking
  • Battiscombe, Georgina (1984) The Spencers of Althorp. London: Constable

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