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Charles Spencer announces big New Year's change at Princess Diana's historic childhood home

The Earl has been working with archaeologists at his ancestral home, Althorp

Earl Charles Spencer attends a private view of "Vogue 100: A Century of Style"
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
1 January 2024
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Charles, 9th Earl Spencer is preparing for more changes at his ancestral home, Althorp, which he formerly shared with his late sister Princess Diana.

After a year of excavations and archaeological discoveries, Charles announced that he plans to continue to delve into the historic property's past in 2024. In particular, he drew fans' attention to the Roman Villa, which was first located at the 13,000-acre estate a century ago.

Charles Spencer's well at Althorp© Instagram
Charles Spencer plans to open two wells at Althorp

In a photo shared to his Instagram Stories, the Earl revealed a close-up of the remains of a well surrounded by crumbling bricks. "One of two wells in Alhorp's Roman villa that we will be opening up in 2024. #happynewyear," he wrote.

Charles previously opened up about being "fascinated" by the villa, which he said had "stood here from perhaps 100AD for what looks like several hundred years."

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"Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the tale of an ancient Roman villa that lies beneath a field at Althorp," he wrote on Instagram next to a series of images showing a team of archaeologists sifting through the earth at his home.

"First located a century ago, it has remained an enigma ever since. Thanks to a brilliant team of experts, we’re now one step closer to unlocking the secrets of the people who lived at Althorp more than a millennium before my family settled here."

His wife Karen Spencer has also shared her ambitious plans for the house via her newsletter, Spencer 1508.

WATCH: Inside Charles Spencer's family home

"I met with the archaeologist Dr Siân Thomas, who will be overseeing the excavation of the walled gardens' original glass house in June. We’re all really excited to get going and see what we find," she wrote in 2023.

"Siân told me that my attempts to rid the site of the tree stumps were futile and that we needed to pull them out by tying something to them and pulling with a tractor or something like that. Oh well, so I won’t be getting a bigger chainsaw."

Archaeologists enjoying a meal at Althorp© Instagram
The Earl has been working with archaeologists to excavate the Roman Villa

Charles shares his home with Karen and their daughter Charlotte, but the property was also once home to his sisters, Lady Sarah, Lady Jane Spencer and Lady Diana Spencer. 

Charles had admitted that Diana had hoped to move back to the estate following the end of her marriage with King Charles, but he said it "was just not possible."

Charles Spencer and Karen Spencer at Ascot© Max Mumby/Indigo
Charles lives with his wife Karen and daughter Charlotte

He explained in a BBC Radio 4 interview as reported in People Magazine: "Diana had a lovely dream that she could live a normal life afterward. But the one house that she set her heart on in the park [at the family home of Althorp] was three bedrooms and 100 yards from the road. And it was just not possible.

"The police knew it wouldn’t work. I offered every other property that was suitable on the estate. I really felt it was the right decision for her. But she probably couldn’t see it."

Following her death in 1997, the late Princess of Wales was buried at the Oval Lake on the Northamptonshire estate. Despite the fact that Charles opens up his home for visitors throughout the year, the gravesite remains private, only accessible by close members of the family. 

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