Althorp House has been the home of the Spencer family since Sir John Spencer acquired the estate in 1508. The most famous member of the family is Diana, Princess of Wales, who tragically died in a car accident in 1997. A memorial and museum are dedicated to her at her ancestral home (more details available on the official website).
The mansion is profusely decorated and contains a stupendous collection of paintings, including works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Gainsborough.
The house was much altered since the original early 16th century brick building. The courtyard was roofed and the grand staircase installed in 1660-62 by the widow of the 1st Earl of Sunderland. The façade was subsequently redesigned in the classical style, and the hall was redecorated in Palladian style by the 5th Earl in 1730-32.
Renowned architect Henry Holland completely refashioned and extended the house in the latter-half of the 18th century, making it one of the best example of classical-style stately home in England.
A beautiful 180-hectare park, with gardens and a lake, encircles the mansion. The present grounds were designed in 1860 by W.N. Teulon, and recently redeveloped by Dan Pearson, one of country's most prominent garden designers.
Opening Hours & Admission
Althorp is open daily between 1 July to 30 September from 11am to 4pm. Admission cost £12.50 for adults, £10.50 for senior citizens, and £6 for children from 5 to 17 years old. Note that access to the upper floor of the House is limited and subject to an additional charge of £1.5 per person.
How to get there
Althorp is on the A428 road, about half-way (10km) between Northampton and Rugby. There are four daily buses from Northampton to Althorp.