Althorp (// or //) is a country estate of about 14,000 acres (60 km2) and a Grade I listed stately home in Northamptonshire, England. It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) north-west of the county town of Northampton. It is the official residence of The Earl and Countess Spencer and their family. It was also the home of Diana, Princess of Wales before her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales.
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 1508 from the Catesby family 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 starting in 1788. 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. One of the rooms in the estate is called the Queen Mary bedroom, which was used by Queen Mary and George V during their visit to the estate in 1913.
The estate stable block has been converted into an exhibition devoted to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who is buried on the estate. 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, undertaken by architect Giles Quarme.
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 after 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.
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- The Spectator. 1864. p. 123. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- Charles Spencer (1998). Althorp: the story of an English house. Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-88322-6. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- "Born to rule". Stripes. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
- Palmer, Nicola J. (2008). Royal tourism: excursions around monarchy. Channel View Publications. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-84541-080-3. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- Battiscombe, Georgina (1984). The Spencers of Althorp. London: Constable.
- Spencer, Charles (1998). Althorp: The Story of an English House. London: Viking.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Althorp House.|
- Althorp's website
- Althorp entry from The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses
- BBC guide to Althorp
- Map sources for Althorp
- Althorp in the Domesday Book