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Charles Spencer's hauntingly beautiful 550-acre gardens where Princess Diana is laid to rest – all the photos

Althorp House is home to Diana's lakeside temple and private resting place

Charles Spencer next to his lake and garden at Althorp
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
8 March 2024
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Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer's ancestral home Althorp House is only open to the public for two months of the year over summer, but fans are lucky enough to be given the occasional tour around the interior and vast grounds via his social media all year round.

The White Ship author grew up at Althorp House with his three older sisters, including Princess Diana, and he took the helm of the property after his father John died in 1992.

An aerial photo of Althorp © Getty
Althorp boasts 550 acres of gardens

As well as sharing historical anecdotes and archaeological findings, Charles often posts photos and videos of his gorgeous garden. Set on 13,000 acres – 550 of which are the house and gardens – it encompasses walled gardens, striking shrubbery, and, perhaps most notably, the Oval Lake where his late sister Diana was laid to rest.

The burial site of the late Princess Diana © Getty
The burial site of the late Princess Diana

While Diana was originally going to be buried in the family vault at the local church, security issues saw Charles take matters into his own hands, choosing a private island at the centre of his lake away from the prying eyes of visitors.

Prince Harry explained in his memoir Spare: "The bridge had been removed, to give my mother privacy, to keep intruders away." 

Join us as we reminisce about the most serene and hauntingly beautiful photos of Charles Spencer's sprawling garden…

Diana's temple

The temple near the lake at Althorp House© Instagram
A temple near the lake allows visitors to leave tributes for Princess Diana

While the late Princess of Wales' island is off-limits to the public, visitors can leave floral tributes and cards at a nearby memorial temple overlooking Oval Lake. However, Charles explained it was not originally erected for Diana, and explained its rich history.

A temple surrounded by yellow leaves on the trees© Instagram
Charles revealed it wasn't originally erected for his late sister

Next to a stunning photo, he penned: "Beautiful autumn colours in the grounds of @althorphouse today. This temple, now dedicated to my late sister’s memory, was originally commissioned by our ancestor George John Spencer. 

Princess Diana's temple in the sunshine at Althorp© Instagram

"He was in charge of the Royal Navy in the early part of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1798 initial reports from Egypt said the British fleet had been destroyed in a crucial battle by the French. George John fainted with shock."

Diana's resting place

Princess Diana's resting place on the Oval Lake in the mist© Instagram
Diana's final resting place is on a private island on the Oval Lake

Speaking to model Twiggy on her podcast Tea With Twiggy, the historian revealed that the property's opening dates have a "strange" link to his late sister. "With these big houses and their contents, you do an agreement with the government as to how many days to be open.

"It's a strange coincidence actually but we agreed to be open for July and August, so we open on the first of July, which is Diana's birthday, and we close on 31 August, which is the day she died." He added: "Total coincidence, that was agreed five years before she passed away, so strange."

Charles Spencer's lake at Althorp House in the sunshine© Instagram
There used to be a bridge to the island, but it was removed for security reasons

The Oval Lake has been pictured in all weathers, from being cloaked with a thick layer of mist to being bathed in dappled sunlight. 

The lake at Althorp covered with mist© Instagram
Charles described the misty scene as "achingly beautiful"

On a crisp February morning, Charles described one misty scene as "achingly beautiful."

Teeming with wildlife

WATCH: Princess Diana's Brother Charles Spencer Shares Incredible Security Camera Footage

With acres of surrounding countryside, some of the local wildlife often wander onto Charles' property. The Earl was lucky enough to spot the majestic deer feeding from the hedgerow alongside two young fawns from a security camera, and the serene scenes wouldn't look out of place in a fairytale. "Please watch the whole thing – one of our security cameras caught this beautiful scene. Wild roe deer have only been in the Park at @AlthorpHouse for two years. So good to see them flourishing," he wrote.

Deer at Althorp House© Instagram
Deer regularly wander onto the land at Althorp

Althorp House's official website also states it has been home to black fallow deer since the fifteenth century.

Picturesque plants

Flowers in a walled garden at Althorp© Instagram
The 'drying garden' at Althorp

Among the picturesque gardens sits the walled 'drying garden' which was revamped in 2023. Whilst the enclosed space was once "forlorn", pink, cream and red dahlias and vegetables including runner beans have given it a new lease of life.

An aerial photo of the gardens at Althorp© Instagram
Charles has revamped the gardens at Althorp

Diana's island also underwent a renovation in 2017, with landscapers planting meaningful flowers forget-me-nots and rhododendrons. "They were Diana’s favorite flower," Charles said of the former in an interview with People. "I still remember giving her some when we were children. When I was six, I gave her a white pot of blue forget-me-nots."

READ: King Charles' home prepares for visitors as exciting change announced

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