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Althorp House, Northampton

3.4
#2 of 6 in Historic Sites in Northampton
Historic Site Tourist Spot
Althorp has been home to the Spencer family for nearly 500 years, and contains a fascinating variety of pictures, furniture and ceramics, as well as boasting some fine interiors. Like many great country houses, it has benefited from the discriminating and varied collecting of generations of occupants, their marriages and chance provisions.

But the Spencers have also had the knack of going to the right people; its collection of portraits is particularly fine, and justly famous. As a record of a family, and as a record of English portraiture, it is outstanding. The roll-call of names - Rubens, Van Dyck, Reynolds, Gains-borough - will be familiar to everyone. But there are numerous rare and beautiful paintings by lesser-known artists which will appeal to casual visitors and connoisseurs alike.

In the decorative arts, from carpets to candelabra, there is much which is distinguished. Here are reflected not just the enthusiasms and idiosyncrasies of their collectors, but invariably the course of the arts and the epochs in which these pieces are found.

Likewise, the house itself is not the product of any one period, but has changed over the years. Its re-modellings naturally show the prevailing taste of the time, woven into a broader synthesis. The true medium for harmony, however, has been the house's continual ownership and occupation by the same family.
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  • Would go again but not on these guided tours fat too crowed, waiting around much prefer the open house walk in and out without walking round with groups of strangers. Guided tours should be optional w...  more »
  • We attended Althorp for yet another great visit this time the Earl was in book signing so that an extra for us as hes never been there when we have been the first two times we came. House, grounds and...  more »
  • We visited just at the right time today, Earl Spencer was book signing and took the time after to come and greet guests in the courtyard. Very pleasant man, made my mother in laws day to meet him at h...  more »