Stay in Princess Diana's childhood home

By Chris Kitching for MailOnline

Althorp, the childhood home of Princess Diana, is set to open to overnight visitors for the first time. Photo / JMarler via Flickr
Althorp, the childhood home of Princess Diana, is set to open to overnight visitors for the first time. Photo / JMarler via Flickr

The childhood home of Princess Diana is opening to overnight guests for the first time in order to raise money for charity.

Guests will be able to stay in Diana's old bedroom at the Grade I-listed Althorp estate, where she lived before her marriage to Prince Charles, during weekend visits that cost approximately £25,000 ($54,374) per couple or £175,000 ($380,621) for a party of up to 18.

Diana was interred on a small island on the estate's Oval Lake, and there is a Doric-style memorial across from it where visitors can pay their respects to her.

Diana was interred on a small island on the Althorp's Oval Lake, which is at the centre of the 13,000-acre estate. Photo / JMarler via Flickr
Diana was interred on a small island on the Althorp's Oval Lake, which is at the centre of the 13,000-acre estate. Photo / JMarler via Flickr

The stately 90-room Tudor mansion and sprawling grounds in Northamptonshire are owned by her brother, Earl Charles Spencer, and have been in the aristocratic Spencer family for 500 years and 18 generations.

Located north-west of Northampton, the 13,000-acre estate has been open to day visitors since 1998, a year after Diana died in a car crash in Paris.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News' On Assignment, Earl Spencer said he decided to open his ancestral home for overnight visits for the first time after his American wife, Countess Karen Spencer, came up with the idea as a way to raise funds for Whole Child International, the charity she founded in 2004.

The charity supports orphaned, abandoned, abused and neglected children in developing countries.

Althorp estate, near Northampton, has been open to day visitors since 1998, a year after Diana (pictured in 1993) died in Paris. Photo / Supplied
Althorp estate, near Northampton, has been open to day visitors since 1998, a year after Diana (pictured in 1993) died in Paris. Photo / Supplied

In an On Assignment episode scheduled to air on Sunday night, Earl Spencer, who lives in the mansion with his wife and children, told NBC News reporter Cynthia McFadden: "I've always thought of this house as contributing. It's not just a little bastion or fortress of privilege."

Earl Spencer has been in charge of the estate for the last 23 years.

Althorp has been in the Spencer family since the reign of Charles I and boasts a 100,000-square foot mansion, which was built in 1508 and has a world-class collection of art, including pieces by Da Vinci, plus antique furniture and ceramics.

Located around 70 miles from London, the mansion has around 30 bedrooms and multiple great dining rooms, including one modelled on the ballroom at Buckingham Palace that can seat more than 100 people for dinner.

An illustration of the interior of Althorp House in 1822. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
An illustration of the interior of Althorp House in 1822. Photo / Wikimedia Commons

A library contains books dating back to the 1800s, there are crystal chandeliers throughout and there is a ceiling decorated with three shades of gold leaf.

Every July and August and at select times of the year, day visitors can go on guided tours of the state rooms of the mansion, stroll through the gardens or visit the Stables Block, built by Roger Morris in 1732 in the Anglo-Palladian style, which has a café and exhibition featuring the family's history. There is no public access to the island.

An exhibition celebrating Diana's life closed in 2013.

The Princess Diana memorial at Anthorp House. Photo / nc_pepsi via Flickr
The Princess Diana memorial at Anthorp House. Photo / nc_pepsi via Flickr

In addition to guided tours, the gated estate hosts weddings in its five state rooms (the Picture Gallery, the State Dining Room, the Great Room, the Saloon and the Marlborough Room) and holds annual literary and food and drink festivals.

It has also hosted a duathlon, summer garden parties and charity dinners.

Earlier this month, Earl Spencer announced that the island where Diana is buried would undergo an extensive redesign to honour her memory.

The redesign will be completed in time for the 20th anniversary of her death in August 2017. Diana was laid to rest on the island on 6 September 1997.

The gardens are undergoing their first major revamp in 350 years as part of a project led by Countess Spencer.

The gardens were designed by Andre Le Notre, King Louis XIV of France's principal gardener, who masterminded the gardens of Versailles.

- Daily Mail

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