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See also Althorpemarker, Lincolnshiremarker.
Althorp's entrance front in the 1820s.
The appearance of the house from this angle is almost unaltered today.
Althorp as it was in 2006.
Althorp ( or ) is a country estate (of 14,000 acres) and stately home in Northamptonshiremarker, Englandmarker, located roughly north-west of the county town Northamptonmarker. It has been the ancestral home of the Spencer family since the early 16th century and is currently owned by Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer. Within the Grounds there are earthworks of the lost Village of Althorpmarker on which the estate was built. The Spencer family fortune derived from its earliest known ancestor, Sir John Spencer of Wormleightonmarker, 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 famous 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 is buried on a small island in the middle of a lake on the estate.

The estate and house are open to the public during the summer months (1 July to 30 August in 2009) 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 Parkmarker 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 stationmarker.

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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