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Lady Karen Spencer of Althorp House
Episode 1125th November 2021 • Duchess • OneFinePlay
00:00:00 00:38:05

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Episode Description: 

In the final episode of season 2, The Duchess of Rutland meets Lady Karen Spencer of the historic Althorp House. In the episode, we are introduced to the many extraordinary women in the Spencer family, Lady Karen regales some of the ghostly activity they have experienced in the home, and the ladies muse over their shared love of cows! 

Top Quotes:

"It takes a long time to understand these houses. I think the danger in a place like this is to come in and change things without taking the time to really understand the history that came before it and the more I learn the more reverence I have." - Lady Spencer

"Some of these places are very old fashioned and some of the people working in them are very old fashioned. So it took a bit of rejigging to make sure we had the right team that were prepared for a modern working couple who make decisions together." - Lady Spencer

"Being in heritage has taught me patience." - Lady Spencer

"Understanding why a home is built the way it is is so key because then you get under the skin of it. Then it's no longer your ego dictating what you do - the house almost talks to you with its own voice." - The Duchess

About the Guest and Stately Home:

Lady Karen Spencer is a Canadian social entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Whole Child International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to improve the quality of care for vulnerable children. In June 2011, she married Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer at Althorp - the brother of Princess Diana. 

Althorp House is a 13,000-acre home and has been the residence of the Spencers since 1508. The current Earl Charles was raised on the estate as well as her sister Princess Diana - who was also buried on the grounds. Althorp House is a Grade I listed stately home consisting of 90 rooms. The grounds of Althorp Estate also contain 28 listed buildings and structures, including nine planting stones. The Second Earl of Sunderland (Robert Spencer) brought in an Italian architect to remake Althorp in a grand classical style, replacing the brick with Weldon stone, and adding Corinthian and Composite columns. Andre Le Notre, the architect of Versailles, also designed the gardens in formal style. One of its most impressive original features, its 115-foot picture gallery, is untouched and retains its Tudor wood panelling to this day. There’s an impressive collection of art for their home, including Van Dyck's War and Peace, a John de Critz portrait of King James I and works by Lely. There is also an extensive exhibition devoted to the memory of Princess Diana. The exhibition has been spread across 6 rooms of a converted stable block and depicts Diana's childhood, her royal wedding to Prince Charles, her charitable work, and her considerable influence on fashion and style. 

About the Host:

Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations. 


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