Althorp has been the home of the Spencers, the late Princess Diana's family, for more than 500 years. It's currently the home of Princess Diana's brother, the 9th Earl Spencer and also the site of the Princess's grave.
The family opened the house, including a lake and an island and surrounded by a 550-acre walled park, more than 50 years ago. Long before Diana became the Princess of Wales, visitors could enjoy the fine furnishings and artwork collected by twenty generations of Spencers.
Today, most visitors to Althorp (pronounced Althrup by some but actually a pretentious affectation these days) come to see Diana's childhood home which can be visited by guided tours, booked in advance. The more than 500-year-old home holds one of Europe’s finest private collections of furniture, paintings, and ceramics. Still a family home, Althorp has 90 rooms - only some of which are open to the public.
Find out more about what you can expect to see at Althorp, including some very special paintings, here.
Althorp Visitor Essentials
- Address: Althorp, Northampton, NN7 4HQ
- Booking Contact: telephone: +44 (0)1604 770 107 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Open Days: Althorp has a very limited season. The house is open in the summer with specific dates announced on the Althorp website every year. In 2018, the house and estate will be open from July 16 to August 24 and from August 27 to September 9.
- Additional Openings - Guided tours of the house are also available during The Althorp Food and Drink Festival, highlighting independent Northamptonshire producers, May 12 and 13 in 2018. Only the grounds and seasonal exhibitions are open during the Althorp Literary Festival, October 5 to 7 in 2018.
- Hours: The gates open at noon and close at 5 p.m. Last admission to the house is at 3 pm and to the grounds at 4 pm.
- Admission: In 2018, adult day tickets cost £18.50 and children 5 to 16 cost £11. Family tickets and concessions (discounted tickets) for seniors and students are also available. Children up to 4 are admitted free. Tickets can be booked online any day except the day of your visit when they can be purchased at the gate. But keep in mind that when the house is open on August 31, the anniversary of Princess Diana's death (as it will be in 2018), tickets are very much in demand so advance planning for that day is necessary.
- What you get for your money - The admission price during the house opening season includes entry to the grounds, the current exhibitions, Café and Gift Shop in the Stables, and entrance to the State Rooms of the House.
- Visit their website
- How to Get to Althorp
- By car: Althorp is 7 miles west of Northampton off the A428. Directions are signposted from the M1 motorway (Exit 16 Northbound or Exit 18 Southbound). Travel time is approximately 1.5 hours from London, 2.5 hours from York, and 1 hour from Stratford-Upon-Avon, Cambridge, or Oxford.
- By train: Althorp is seven miles from Northampton station which has regular train service from London Euston. Bus and taxi services are available from Northampton station.
A Very Special Memorial
Diana's grave is on an island in the lake, known as The Round Oval. It is private and cannot be visited. A funerary urn perched on a column on one end of the lake indicates that the island is a burial place.
Visitors can, however, contemplate the Princess at the lakeside Temple which is dedicated to her memory. The Temple was originally created by the 2nd Earl Spencer to celebrate a naval victory over the French during the Battle of the Nile under Nelson. It stood in the gardens of Admiralty House, in London until 1901, when it was bought by the 5th Earl and transported to Althorp.
The purchase price was just £3. In 1926, the Temple was moved to its current location. Visitors can see it as part of exploring Althorp's grounds.