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In 1469 John Spencer's uncle – also named John Spencer – had become feoffee (feudal lord) of Wormleighton in Warwickshire and a tenant at Althorp in Northamptonshire in 1486.The family's administration of their Northamptonshire and Warwickshire estates gained them admiration and a following throughout England, and their sheep-rearing business earned large profits.The Great Dining Room in the east wing extension of the house was added in 1877 to designs by John Macvicar Anderson, its walls hung with faded, red damask silk.Numerous fireplaces and furnishings were brought to Althorp from Spencer House in London during the Blitz for safekeeping and still remain.The mustard-yellow Grade II listed Stable Block, designed by architect Roger Morris with a Palladian influence, was ordered by Charles, Fifth Earl of Sutherland in the early 1730s.The French landscape architect André Le Nôtre was commissioned to lay out the park and grounds in the 1660s, and further alterations were made during the late 18th century under Henry Holland.The former falconry, now a Grade I listed building, was built in 1613.Gardener's House is listed as a Grade II* listed building in its own right, as are the Grade II listed West and East Lodges.
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.
noted that none of his family refer to it as Althorp, and that his father insisted on pronouncing it "Awl-trupp".
When he assumed ownership in 1992, the BBC Pronunciation Department contacted him and the current "Althorp" was agreed upon.
Following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, she was interred on a small island in the middle of the ornamental Round Oval lake.
A Doric-style temple with Diana's name inscribed on top, situated across from the lake, is a tourist attraction during July and August when the house and estate are open to the public, although the exhibition centre, situated in the old stable block, closed permanently in 2013.Althorp is mentioned as a small hamlet in the Domesday Book as "Olletorp", and by 1377 it had become a village with a population of more than fifty people.