Althorp House & Park, Northamptonshire - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Althorp House & Park Northamptonshire - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Althorp is a Grade I listed stately home, estate and small civil parish in Daventry District, Northamptonshire. It has been held by the prominent aristocratic Spencer family for more than 500 years, and has been owned by Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer since 1992. It was also the home of Lady Diana Spencer (later Princess of Wales) from her parents' divorce until her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales.
A manor existed at Althorp in medieval times. It was referred to in the Domesday Book as "Olletorp", meaning Olla's Thorp, believed to refer to a medieval lord named Olla. Thorp is a word of Scandinavian origin, which would have been pronounced as "throop" or "thrupp", and in Danish probably meant "daughter's settlement". In the 13th and 15th centuries it was recorded as "Holtropp" and "Aldrop", although when the estate was bought by John Spencer in 1508 it began being referred to as "Oldthorpe".
In 1508, John Spencer purchased Althorp estate with the funds generated from his family's sheep-rearing business. Althorp became one of the prominent stately homes in England. The mansion dates to 1688, replacing an earlier house that was once visited by Charles I. The Spencer family amassed an extensive art collection and other valuable household items. During the 18th century, the house became a major cultural hub in England, and parties were regularly held, attracting many prominent members of Great Britain's ruling class. George John, 2nd Earl Spencer, who owned Althorp between 1783 and his death in 1834, developed one of the largest private libraries in Europe at the house, which grew to over 100,000 books by the 1830s.
After falling on hard times, John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer, known as the Red Earl, in 1892 sold much of the collection to Enriqueta Rylands, who was building the University of Manchester Library. Many of Althorp's furnishings were sold off during the twentieth century, and between 1975 and 1992 alone approximately 20% of the contents were auctioned.
The house at Althorp was a "classically beautiful" red brick Tudor building, but its appearance was radically altered, starting in 1788, when the architect Henry Holland was commissioned to make extensive changes. Mathematical tiles were added to the exterior, encasing the brick, and four Corinthian pilasters were added to the front.