Althorp House, Northampton

3.4
#1 of 6 in Historic Sites in Northampton
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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  • We had traveled halfway around the world to experience Althrop Estate and the memorial of Princess Diana. Our expectations were that we would hear about the life of Princess Diana from growing up at A...  more »
  • The tribute to Diana at the lake was perfect. Her words along with those of her brother made you remember her perfectly. The House and former stables were fantastic. We were allowed access to many of ...  more »
  • My daughter and I have planned to visit Althorp for many years. The car park is a fair distance from the car park to the house, although we understand there was access for disabled to park nearer. The...  more »

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