In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Althorp like this:
ALTHORP, an extra-parochial tract in Brixworth district, Northamptonshire; contiguous to Brington parish, 6 miles NW of Northampton. Pop., 78. Houses, 10. It gives the title of Viscount to Earl Spencer; and Althorp Park here is the Earl's seat. "The domain of Althorp," says Dibdin, "has been possessed by the Spencer family upwards of three centuries; but the exact period of the erection of the house seems to be unknown. There is, however, no question of its having received its principal improvements during the time of the first Earl of Sunderland (1636-1643), who was the son of the second Baron Spencer. ...
The lady of this earl (danghter of Robert Sidney, second earl of Leicester, and better known as the Sacharissa of Waller the poet,) erected and covered in the great staircase, which had been formerly an interior courtyard, in the fashion of the times. From that period to the present, both the house and park have continued to receive improvements. The family of the Spencers became possessed of the park at Althorp about the year 1512. This originated in a license from the king to John Spencer, afterwards Sir John Spencer. At that time the park is described as containing 300 acres of land, 100 acres of wood, and 40 acres of water in 'Oldthorpe;' but this seems to have been only an extension of some property previously acquired there, for it is certain that Althorp, so called, was purchased by this Sir John Spencer as early as the year 1508." The great attraction of Althorp House is its noble library, which Dibdin says is the finest collection of books perhaps in Europe. "It occupies a suite of rooms, four in number, and measuring in the whole about 170 feet in length. These are garnished from top to toe with the choicest copies of the choicest editions of the choicest authors in the choicest bindings." The collection of pictures also is very rich. The queen and son of James I., when on their journey from Scotland to London in 1603, rested some days at Althorp; and a mask, composed by Ben Jonson, was exhibited for their entertainment.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Althorp has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Daventry. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Althorp and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Althorp, in Daventry and Northamptonshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 23rd May 2013
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