ALTHORP, JULY 1th, 1998
|Princess Diana photographed by Lord Snowdon 1985|
|The first of July, the day Diana would have become 37, Althorp opened its gates for visitors for two months. The 31th of august it will be closed, one year after her tragic death in Paris.|
|Funeral September 6th 1997|
|The Earl of Spencer greeted the first visitors on his
Each day 2.500 people are allowed to visit the family-estate. All 150.000 tickets are already been sold.
It's not allowed to visit her grave, on the "Round Oval", the island in the lake. Garden architect Dan Pearson landscaped the gardens.
|A path with 36 oak-trees, marking each year of her life, is leading to the "Round Oval". Originally the family-animals were buried on this island, including Diana´s favorite cat Marmalade. The oak and limetrees on the island are planted by the family, also by Diana herself. White Rambling roses are planted all over. At the end of the island stands an urn from Portland stone. Four black swans are swimming in the lake, symbolizing sentinels guarding Diana's grave. In a dream Charles Spencer saw this vision. In the water there are several water lilies. White roses and lilies were Diana's favorite flowers.|
|Close the island there's a temple in Palladian-style. It was once the family summer house, bought in 1901.|
Now the wooden structure is repainted in a deep shade of stone. It has a Greek pediment and Doric columns. In the center stands an ornate bench donated by local residents in Memory of Diana. Above is a plaque bearing Diana's silhouette set in marble. On the left stands an inscription from Diana: "Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life - a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are."
On the right there's an excerpt from Charles Spencer's funeral-tribute to his sister:
|In the stable block, made of sandstone and also in Palladian-style, you can visit an exhibition of six rooms dedicated to Diana's life. (All Diana's personal belongings are moved from Kensington palace to Althorp).|
|No tragic elements are showed, just facts of a fairytale-life she never lived. One of the rooms is filled with portraits of Diana's ancestors and family jewels. A selection of 28 outfits of Diana's clothes is showed, with even the outfit she wore on her Angola-trip last year (The Red Cross anti-landmine campaign) and evening gowns, designed by Gianni Versace.|
|Marriage to Charles|
Her wedding dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel is made of cream lace and silk. It has a voluminous skirt and a sleeve of 20-foot. Above this display a continuous film is projected of Diana, about her charity work and visiting a leisure park with her sons. In a childhood room you can see her tap shoes, her school tuck box, her red uniform from Silfield School in Norfolk and even a worse school report, with a comment that although she does try, her work is still erratic. A home movie, made by Diana's father shows a happy family life: Diana driving on a camel on her birthday, her christening party and so on.
There are hardly no signs of Prince Charles, there is just on Christmas card from 1980, signed with: "From your tap dancing partner, Charles". Dodi Fayed is not mentioned.
Of course there is a cafe and souvenir-shop, just selling Althorp-items, no Diana-souvenirs.
Also open to view is Althorp House, which visitors walk through before they see Diana's burial area. The Spencers live here since 1508.
|Portret by Nelson Shanks 1994|
In the saloon there is a portrait of Diana by the American artist Nelson Shanks, which until her death hung on the staircase of her home at Kensington palace.
Although there is a lot of criticism, people think it doesn´t suite to to pay for visiting the grave of their princess, Charles Spencer declared that in the first year 10% of the gains will go the Diana, Memorial Fund.
If you want to make reservations for next year, call: 00 (44) 1604 59 2020