Althorpe Estate, visitor attraction at Althorpe Estate, Lake Round Oval, burial site of Diana Princess of Wales, exhibition of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales
The Althorpe Estate which includes house, grounds and Lake Round Oval are situated on a 14,000 acre estate in Northamptonshire, and has been the ancestral home of the Spencer family since 1508, when Warwickshire landowner and gentleman farmer Sir John Spencer aquired 300 acres of land there, from the proceeds of sheep farming.
Today the house and grounds are remembered as being the family home of Diana, Princess of Wales and The Lake Round Oval as her final resting place.
The estate has been open to the public for a hundred years, but in recent years has been hailed more as a place of pilgrimage to Diana.
However, Diana's memory should not be the only reason for visiting this palacial house, it's exquisite art works and stately gardens and vast parkland.
Image courtesy of Andrew walker, wikimedia commons.
Althorpe House was originally built in 1508 by the first John Spencer, a 19 bedroomed, red brick pile, which has been added to considerably over the years, into the Italianate, Weldon stoned facade with it's composite columns, that we see today.
Inside the house has a wealth of decorative art which includes paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Gainsborough, as well as fine artwork by lesser known artists.
The rooms and corridors, which include a 115 foot long picture gallery, grand room and regal stairway, also include some exquisite examples of fine porcelain, marble busts, candelabra, carpets, period furniture and the Althorpe family's private chapel.
image courtesy of ian Robb, wikimedia commons.
The grounds include several interesting features which include geometric, French style gardens built in the 1860's by W.M Teulon to a design by Andre Le Notre, creator of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, which include specimens of rare trees and the Spencer Type, Sweet Pea, which was cultivated here by the estate's gardeners in the early 1900's.
The site also houses an earthworks of the lost village of Althorpe, an 11th century settlement from which the present estate evolved, several cottages and a village.
The estate's converted stable block, built in the Anglo - Palladian style in honey coloured ironstone by Rojer Morris in the 1730's, is now the site of an exhibition / museum of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Situated on the edge of the grounds, but not part of Althorpe, is Holdenby House built in 1583 by Christopher Hatton,a private dwelling with gardens open to the public, which was once the country retreat of King James I and where King Charles I was held under house arrest for five months in 1647.
The Althorpe Estate grounds also include a working farm and farmland, woodland, a gift shop, a picnic area, a cafe a free car park and Lake Round Oval, an ornamental lake with an island at it's centre, which was created as part of Teulon's original work on the gardens in the 1860's.
LAKE ROUND OVAL.
The lake was cleared and refilled in 1868, with it's small island used as the burial site of the Althorpe family pets, including Diana's favourite cat, Marmalade.
The pathway leading to the lake has been planted with 36 oak trees, one for each year of Diana's life.
Situated on the south side of the lake is a wooden palladian style summerhouse, which once graced the gardens of the Admiralty Building in London, and was positioned at the lakeside in 1926.
Today the summerhouse, which has been painted to imitate stonework, has now been transformed into a memorial to Diana, with a seating area where one can look out towards the lake and her burial site.
The final; resting place of Diana, Princes of Wales, is hidden from view by way of an arboretum of specimen trees, some of which were planted by Diana herself and her sons the royal princes during the 1990's.
What is on view however, is a small, headstone, seen from the north side of the lake.
Althorpe is only open to the public from 1st of July until the 30th of August, the dates that signify the timeline of Diana's life, she was born on the 1st of July and died on the 31st of August.
Admission is from 11 AM until 5 PM.
Day tickets can be bought online or at the gate and the admission includes access to 19 rooms of the house's ground floor, the grounds, the Stable Block Exhibition Centre and Lake Round Oval. Other tickets can be purchased for the viewing of the upper floor and the family chapel
ADDRESS - Althorpe, Nottinghamshire.
POST CODE - NN7 4HQ.
TELEPHONE - 01604 770107.