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Spencer, Charles

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ISBN 10: 0670883220 / ISBN 13: 9780670883226
Published by Viking, 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Columbia Books, ABAA/ILAB (Columbia, MO, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Spencer, Charles. ALTHORP: THE STORY OF AN ENGLISH HOUSE. London: Viking, c1998. first printing. 168pp., color photographs. sm. 4to. Inscribed on "To Edward" at the top of the page "Charles Spencer, 10th July 2000" underneath the author's name. As new hardcover in fine d/j. Bookseller Inventory # 5705

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Viking

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


A complete pictorial guide to Althorp House in Northamptonshire, the home of the Spencer family since the late 16th century. The present Lord Spencer, the 9th Earl, traces the history of the house and writes about the changes that he has made since he inherited it and since the death of his sister, Diana, Princess of Wales.


This account of Althorp, his family seat, by Charles, the ninth earl Spencer, only scratches the surface of its 500-year history. Nevertheless, whether he is describing the sleepless nights of his childhood, the ticking of clocks "always ... too subtle a sound, getting absorbed in the oak of the floorboards and the fabric of the tapestries," or appraising the forbidding character of his grandfather, the "Curator Earl," Spencer casts a candid, evocative light on his subject.

Indeed, Spencer's own efforts on the estate have been considerable. First comes the business of repairing the predations of his "short-termist stepmother," Raine, the countess of Dartmouth, who has laid down wall-to-wall oatmeal carpet in a 115-foot-long Tudor picture gallery. Now comes the death and burial on the estate of his sister, Diana, the princess of Wales. That Charles must now curate the family home as a site of global mourning is a trial quite the equal of anything the estate has ever faced.

Subtitled "The Story of an English House," the book has a structure, dividing the subject into buildings, grounds, family history, and collections, that is entirely conventional. Yet Spencer surprises by packing in many details about the social and political vicissitudes that shaped his family's wealth and taste. In doing so, he eschews his grandfather's regrettable elitism, while losing none of the old man's dedication to the family's heritage. Like all good introductions, this book suggests a world and time far exceeding its little compass. --Simon Ings

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