History of Althorp House

Althorp House is in Althorp.

On 04 May 1549 Alice Spencer Countess Derby 1549-1637 was born to John Spencer 1524-1586 (25) and Katherine Kitson 1524-1586 (25) at Althorp House.

On 29 Jun 1552 Elizabeth Spencer Baroness Hunsdon Baroness Eure 1552-1618 was born to John Spencer 1524-1586 (28) and Katherine Kitson 1524-1586 (28) at Althorp House.

Around 1570 Robert Spencer 1st Baron Spencer Wormleighton 1570-1627 was born to John Spencer 1549-1600 (21) and Mary Catlyn at Althorp House.

Before 24 Aug 1588 Mary Spencer 1588-1658 was born to Robert Spencer 1st Baron Spencer Wormleighton 1570-1627 and Margaret Willoughby 1566-1597 at Althorp House.

On or before 04 Jan 1591 William Spencer 2nd Baron Spencer Wormleighton 1591-1636 was born to Robert Spencer 1st Baron Spencer Wormleighton 1570-1627 (21) and Margaret Willoughby 1566-1597 (24) at Althorp House. He was baptised on 04 Jan 1591 at Brington.

The Entertainment at Althorp

On 25 Jun 1603 the Ben Johnson Playwright 1572-1637 (31) Masque The Entertainment at Althorp was performed at Althorp House to welcome the new Royal Family on their journey from Edinburgh to London following the death of Queen Elizabeth. The performance was attended by Anne of Denmark (28) and her son Henry Frederick Stewart Prince of Wales 1594-1612 (9).

Around 1605 John Critz Painter 1551-1642. Portrait of Anne of Denmark.Before 1619 Robert "The Elder" Peake Painter 1551-1619. Portrait of Henry Frederick Stewart Prince of Wales 1594-1612 in his Garter Robes and Leg Garter.After 07 Feb 1612 Unknown Painter. Portrait of Princess Elizabeth Stewart Queen Bohemia 1596-1662. Elizabeth's standing collar of reticella is worked with the Royal coat of arms with its lion and unicorn supporters. She wears a gown of Italian silk brocade. The black armband is thought to be a sign of mourning for her brother Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales who died on 07 Feb 1612.

Before 23 Nov 1620 Henry Spencer 1st Earl of Sunderland 1620-1643 was born to William Spencer 2nd Baron Spencer Wormleighton 1591-1636 and Penelope Wriothesley Baroness Spencer Wormleighton 1598-1667 at Althorp House.

Before 02 Feb 1629 Robert Spencer 1st Viscount Teviot 1629-1694 was born to William Spencer 2nd Baron Spencer Wormleighton 1591-1636 and Penelope Wriothesley Baroness Spencer Wormleighton 1598-1667 at Althorp House.

John Evelyn's Diary 14 July 1675. 14 Jul 1675. I went to see my Lord Sunderland's (33) Seat at Althorpe, four miles from the ragged town of Northampton (since burned, and well rebuilt). It is placed in a pretty open bottom, very finely watered and flanked with stately woods and groves in a park, with a canal, but the water is not running, which is a defect. The house, a kind of modern building, of freestone, within most nobly furnished; the apartments very commodious, a gallery and noble hall; but the kitchen being in the body of the house, and chapel too small, were defects. There is an old yet honorable gatehouse standing awry, and out-housing mean, but designed to be taken away. It was moated round, after the old manner, but it is now dry, and turfed with a beautiful carpet. Above all, are admirable and magnificent the several ample gardens furnished with the choicest fruit, and exquisitely kept. Great plenty of oranges, and other curiosities. The park full of fowl, especially herons, and from it a prospect to Holmby House, which being demolished in the late civil wars, shows like a Roman ruin shaded by the trees about it, a stately, solemn, and pleasing view.

John Evelyn's Diary 23 January 1678. 23 Jan 1678. Dined with the Duke of Norfolk (49), being the first time I had seen him since the death of his elder brother (50), who died at Padua in Italy, where he had resided above thirty years. The Duke (49) had now newly declared his marriage to his concubine (35), whom he promised me he never would marry. I went with him to see the Duke of Buckingham (49), thence to my Lord Sunderland (36), now Secretary of State, to show him that rare piece of Vosterman's (son of old Vosterman), which was a view, or landscape of my Lord's palace, etc., at Althorpe in Northamptonshire.

John Evelyn's Diary 15 August 1688. 15 Aug 1688. I went to Althorpe, in Northamptonshire, seventy miles. A coach and four horses took up me and my son at Whitehall, and carried us to Dunstable, where we arrived and dined at noon, and from thence another coach and six horses carried us to Althorpe, four miles beyond Northampton, where we arrived by seven o'clock that evening. Both these coaches were hired for me by that noble Countess of Sunderland (42), who invited me to her house at Althorpe, where she entertained me and my son with very extraordinary kindness; I stayed till the Thursday.

John Evelyn's Diary 18 August 1688. 18 Aug 1688. Dr. Jeffryes, the minister of Althorpe, who was my Lord's chaplain when ambassador in France, preached the shortest discourse I ever heard; but what was defective in the amplitude of his sermon, he had supplied in the largeness and convenience of the parsonage house, which the doctor (who had at least £600 a year in spiritual advancement) had newly built, and made fit for a person of quality to live in, with gardens and all accommodation according therewith.
My lady (42) carried us to see Lord Northampton's (23) Seat, a very strong, large house, built with stone, not altogether modern. They were enlarging the garden, in which was nothing extraordinary, except the iron gate opening into the park, which indeed was very good work, wrought in flowers painted with blue and gilded. There is a noble walk of elms toward the front of the house by the bowling green. I was not in any room of the house besides a lobby looking into the garden, where my Lord (23) and his new Countess (19) (Sir Stephen Fox's (61) daughter, whom I had known from a child) entertained the Countess (42) and her daughter the Countess of Arran (21) (newly married to the son (30) of the Duke of Hamilton (53)), with so little good grace, and so dully, that our visit was very short, and so we returned to Althorpe, twelve miles distant.
The house, or rather palace, at Althorpe, is a noble uniform pile in form of a half H, built of brick and freestone, balustered and à la moderne; the hall is well, the staircase excellent; the rooms of state, galleries, offices and furniture, such as may become a great prince. It is situated in the midst of a garden, exquisitely planted and kept, and all this in a park walled in with hewn stone, planted with rows and walks of trees, canals and fish ponds, and stored with game. And, what is above all this, governed by a lady (42), who without any show of solicitude, keeps everything in such admirable order, both within and without, from the garret to the cellar, that I do not believe there is any in this nation, or in any other, that exceeds her (42) in such exact order, without ostentation, but substantially great and noble. The meanest servant is lodged so neat and cleanly; the service at the several tables, the good order and decency—in a word, the entire economy is perfectly becoming a wise and noble person. She is one who for her distinguished esteem of me from a long and worthy friendship, I must ever honor and celebrate. I wish from my soul the Lord (46), her husband (whose parts and abilities are otherwise conspicuous), was as worthy of her, as by a fatal apostasy and court-ambition he has made himself unworthy! This is what she deplores, and it renders her as much affliction as a lady of great soul and much prudence is capable of. The Countess of Bristol (68), her mother, a grave and honorable lady, has the comfort of seeing her daughter and grandchildren under the same economy, especially Mr. Charles Spencer (13), a youth of extraordinary hopes, very learned for his age, and ingenious, and under a Governor of great worth. Happy were it, could as much be said of the elder brother, the Lord Spencer (22), who, rambling about the world, dishonors both his name and his family, adding sorrow to sorrow to a mother, who has taken all imaginable care of his education. There is a daughter (17) very young married to the Earl of Clancarty (20), who has a great and fair estate in Ireland, but who yet gives no great presage of worth,—so universally contaminated is the youth of this corrupt and abandoned age! But this is again recompensed by my Lord Arran (30), a sober and worthy gentleman, who has espoused the Lady Ann Spencer (21), a young lady of admirable accomplishments and virtue.

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John Evelyn's Diary 11 July 1689. 11 Jul 1689. The Countess of Sunderland (43) afterward told me that it extended as far as Althorpe at the very time, which is seventy miles from London. It did no harm at Deptford, but at Greenwich it did much mischief.

John Evelyn's Diary 12 October 1690. 12 Oct 1690. The French General, with Tyrconnel (60) and their forces, gone back to France, beaten out by King William. Cork delivered on discretion. The Duke of Grafton (27) was there mortally wounded and dies. Very great storms of wind. The 8th of this month Lord Spencer (49) wrote me word from Althorpe, that there happened an Earthquake the day before in the morning, which, though short, sensibly shook the house. The "Gazette" acquainted us that the like happened at the same time, half-past seven, at Barnstaple, Holyhead, and Dublin. We were not sensible of it here.

John Evelyn's Diary 13 November 1695. 13 Nov 1695. Famous fireworks and very chargeable, the King (45) being returned from his progress. He stayed seven or eight days at Lord Sunderland's (54) at Althorpe, where he was mightily entertained. These fireworks were shown before Lord Romney (54), Master of the Ordnance, in St. James's great square, where the King (45) stood.

On 28 Sep 1702 Robert Spencer 2nd Earl of Sunderland 1641-1702 (61) died at Althorp House. His son Charles Spencer 3rd Earl of Sunderland 1675-1722 (27) succeeded 3rd Earl of Sunderland 2C 1643, 5th Baron Spencer Wormleighton. Anne Churchill Countess Sunderland 1683-1716 (19) by marriage Countess of Sunderland.

On 19 Dec 1734 John Spencer 1st Earl Spencer 1734-1783 was born to John Spencer 1708-1746 (26) and Georgiana Caroline Carteret 1716-1780 (18) at Althorp House.

Before 02 Aug 1788 Thomas Gainsborough Painter 1727-1788. Portrait of John Spencer 1st Earl Spencer 1734-1783.

On 20 Dec 1755 John Spencer 1st Earl Spencer 1734-1783 (21) and Margaret Georgiana Poyntz Countess Spencer 1737-1814 (18) were married at Althorp House.

Around 1764 Pompeo Batoni Painter 1708-1787. Portrait of Margaret Georgiana Poyntz Countess Spencer 1737-1814.Before 02 Aug 1788 Thomas Gainsborough Painter 1727-1788. Portrait of Margaret Georgiana Poyntz Countess Spencer 1737-1814.

On 07 Jun 1757 Georgiana Spencer Duchess Devonshire 1757-1806 was born to John Spencer 1st Earl Spencer 1734-1783 (22) and Margaret Georgiana Poyntz Countess Spencer 1737-1814 (20) at Althorp House.

In 1783 Thomas Gainsborough Painter 1727-1788. Portrait of Georgiana Spencer Duchess Devonshire 1757-1806.Around 1786 Thomas Gainsborough Painter 1727-1788. Portrait of Georgiana Spencer Duchess Devonshire 1757-1806.Around 1775 Joshua Reynolds Painter 1723-1788. Portrait of Georgiana Spencer Duchess Devonshire 1757-1806.

On 31 Aug 1997 Diana Spencer Princess Wales 1961-1997 (36) died at Pitié-Salpetrière Hospital. She was buried at Althorp House.