Althorp curates treasured artefacts and antiques in new Animals of Althorp exhibition!

Home to one of Europe’s finest private collections of furniture, art and ceramics, Althorp presents a new and unique opportunity to discover the never-previously-told story of its many animals and the undeniable mark they left upon the Family’s history. The new Animals of Althorp exhibition takes guests on an intriguing tour of the historic House’s lesser-known residents.

Animals are as much a part of the Spencer Family’s history as the iconic House itself. The Spencers arrived with their flocks of sheep in this rich grazing land in 1486, and built their home there in 1508. Since then, the verdant pastures and woodlands of oak have been the backdrop to their lives and home to many animals, including the black fallow deer that have roamed the Park since the fifteenth century, and which remain the Spencers’ closest neighbours to this day.

Visitors to the exhibit can explore an intriguing collection of artefacts situated in the Stables Courtyard, fittingly once home to the Spencer Family horses. As part of the exhibition, visitors can also enjoy a trail through Althorp House with an Animals of Althorp guided map, highlighting key exhibition pieces through the House’s State Rooms including a number of original portraits, artworks and antiques.

From the Library the exhibition  features a pastel likeness of Diana, Princess of Wales’ beloved cat Marmalade, drawn by renowned Polish society artist Aniela Pawlikowska who frequently drew the Princess of Wales and her siblings as children. Taken from over the fireplace in the South Drawing Room is a portrait of Margaret Georgiana (Countess Spencer), and Georgiana Spencer, her daughter (later Duchess of Devonshire) painted by portrait artist and Family friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). Mother and daughter gaze  happily at the artist as a pet lap dog, half in shadow, begs with a raised paw looking upward at the young Georgiana. Althorp holds one of the finest collections of Reynolds portraits in private hands, including a self portrait of the artist in doctoral robes.

A must-see for jewellery enthusiasts, the exhibition also features an exquisite pearl, gold, diamond, enamel and amethyst spaniel design fob – this would have been a fashionable men’s accessory dating to the time of the 3rd Earl Spencer, circa 1840.

The exhibition can be enjoyed during Althorp’s House opening season, taking place between 1st July and 31st August, and also during the Food Festival 11-12th May. Guests can also take in the delights of Althorp’s café and gift shop. Picnics are more than welcome in the dedicated woodland outdoor dining area.
House tickets including entry to the new Animals of Althorp exhibit, the grounds and state rooms are available online now.

Pictured: 7th Earl Spencer on his horse Miss Magtart, by Alfred Munnings.