The Unofficial Spencer Family Homepage
Written and compiled by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski, B.F.A.

used by
 permission of Lionel Cherrault

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This site is dedicated to the memory of Lady Diana Spencer, a distant cousin of mine. Her death took her before her time and many will remember her forever despite the press attempts to ruin her memory.

Lady Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 in Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England. She was married on July 29, 1981 to Prince Charles [a Windsor], heir to the British throne, in St. Paul's Cathedral. Diana and Charles divorced on August 28, 1996 (the date of final decree). Diana Spencer was allowed to use Diana, Princess of Wales in 1996. Their divorce settlement gave Diana 17 million English Pounds, in one lump sum. "Prince Charles wanted a pair of watercolors of distant German relations, a pair of chairs (circa 1780) and all of the George III silver, which they had used on a daily basis (Burrell, 252)." Diana died on August 31, 1997 in Paris, France with her companion Doji Fayed, whose father was a friend of the Spencer family. Diana's funeral was in Westminister Abbey on Saturday, September 7, 1997, and she was buried on an island at the Spencer Family Home (Althorp Estate in Northamptonshire, England.

Many wonder why was Diana buried at Althorp? The main reason was that she was no longer a member of the Royal Family after her divorce. They took away her title of HRH. Many do not understand what this meant. After losing her title, Diana was to have to curtsy to those members of the Royal Family who still carried the title. The mother of the Future King of England would now have to curtsy to the Duke and Dutchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra. She received a letter from HRH Princess Michael of Kent saying that she thought this to be a real shame and stated If only Charles had loved you from the beginning, then this situation would never have happened. You will always have my support.

Prince Charles felt that since she was the mother of the future King William V, that she was entitled to be buried with the other royals. The Windsors [his mother and father] thought she would be happier at her family home. Mainly they wanted Diana out of the public's mind, since she had said things they did not like about their family. People still visit Lady Di's gravesite. She has become an icon. Diana was the "People's Princess", no matter what Elizabeth II and her family thought. Diana still receives bad press even in death, and I believe that she should finally be alllowed to rest in peace. Mark Bolland, the prince's aide would create press strategy to Make Camilla Parker Bowles acceptable as Prince Charles' partner and future wife. I have always been thought to "never speak ill of the dead, because the dead can no longer apeak for themselves." This is considered very bad manners. Obviously loose lips are everywhere and many people have basically betrayed Diana's confidences for their own monetary gains.

Many were proud of the Earl Spencer (her brother's) speech at Diana's funeral, however, those were just words and he has never taken any role in the raising of Diana's sons since. Before Diana's death Charles Spencer had even betrayed his sister. The entire Spencer family had let her down. Many feel that now they used her to make money and keep Althorp running, via her memorial.

Diana's real legacy is her sons. She loved them so dearly. Prince William Arthur Phillip Louis was born June 21, 1982 and he was the heir apparent. Prince Henry Charles Albert David

was born on September 15, 1984, and he will take the throne in case William can not.

In Diana's words: "The Heir and the Spare."


The Prince of Wales is the eldest son of The Queen Elizabeth II and The Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was born on 14 November, 1948 and christened Charles Philip Arthur George on 15 December that year in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace.

The Prince of Wales married (1) Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981 They divorced on August 28, 1996 (the date of final decree)and Diana died on August 31, 1997 in Paris, France (2)He married Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles on 9 April 2005(9 years after Diana's death) at a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor, followed by a service of prayer and dedication in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

After the wedding, Mrs Parker Bowles became known as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. When The Prince of Wales accedes to the throne, she will be known as HRH The Princess Consort.

The British Royal Line of Succession
See the Spencer Family's Royal Ancestry

The Spencer Family

Wormleighton Manor-House, Warwickshire, England

The Spencer family's fortune was founded during the Tudor Period by a wealthy Warwickshire grazier, Sir John Spencer, who acquired large estates in Warwickshire (Wormleighton) and Northamptonshire (Althorp). The Spencer money was made in the wool trade.

Wormleighton was bought in 1506, and was later honored by bibliophiles as being the house where the Spencer library was formed (now housed in London). Wormleighton was abandoned after the English Civil War.

More on Wormleighton Manor

The Spencer family was raised to peerage in 1603, and with that had the earldom of Sunderland in 1643.

The Spencers first leased farm land in the area in 1486, and in 1508, Sir John Spencer acquired the 300-acre estate on which he built the Spencer family home. At this time, Althorp was called "Oldthorpe." Even earlier, it was called "Olletorp"(Olla's Thorp). According to Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, author of Althorp: The Story of An English House published in 1998 (in the UK) and 1999 (in the USA), "Olla was said to have been a Saxon lord." He continues that in the 13th and 15th centuries, Althorp was called "Holtropp" and Aldrop" respectively.

Althorp is located six (6) miles north of Northampton on A428. In the 1570's, Althorp was enlarged into its present courtyard shape, with projecting wings. In 1666-69, the 2nd Earl of Sunderland, a shifty and ambitious man, completely remodelled Althorp. He was a key politcal figure under James II and William III. He hired architect Anthony Ellis, a pupil of Nicholas Stone, and refaced the existing brick house and adorned it with the classical pilasters on both floors; most chambers are in the Italian manner. According to the Blue Guide of Country Houses of England, "Althorp is the best planned and best arrayed county seat in the kingdom" (Tyack, Geoffrey and Steve Brindle, County Houses of England. London: A & C Black, 1994, 375). In 1729, a new stable block was built by the neo-Palladium architect Roger Morris, and four years after the entrance hall was redecorated.

In 1734, the 5th Earl of Sunderland inherited the dukedom of Marlborough and went to live at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Althorp was then passed to his younger brother, who was an art collector. His son was made the 1st Earl Spencer and the London Spencer House was built in London.

In 1669, Cosimo de Medici, Prince of Tuscany, Italy; was entertained at Althorp. In 1783, the 2nd Earl Spencer, a Foxite Whig, rescued the neglected house with the help of architect Henry Holland, and they restored and updated Althorp (20,000 pounds was spent). Before this it was updated, in 1655, by Sacharissa Sidney, widow of Henry Spencer, 1st Earl of Sunderland. She added the grand staircase, which is now the focal point of the Elizabethan house. In order to pay Henry Holland, the Spencers sold the family borough of Okehampton in Devon and another in Surrey.

Prince Henry and Anne of Denmark stayed at Althorp, while traveling to James I's coronation in 1603. In 1695, William III (1689-1702) slept at Althorp, in what is now called "The King William Room." Queen Mary and George V stayed at Althorp in the present day "Queen Mary Room." Althorp contains one of the finest collections of paintings still in private ownership, with portraits of the members of the House of Hapsburg by Rubens, beauties of Charles II's court by Lely, and a whole room full of works by Gainsborough and Reynolds.

Althorp Park was home to many Spencer children and many have described it as "serene and peaceful" ... a fitting place for Lady Diana Spencer's final resting place. Diana's grave is surrounded by her childhood pets(Bence-Jones, Mark, The National Trust Great English Homes: Ancestral Homes of England and Wales and the People Who Lived in Them. New York: British Heritage Press, 1984, 12-15). The Spencer family mortuary chapel is in the nearby church at Great Brington.

Her father: John Spencer, Viscount Althorp and 8th Earl of Spencer (1924-1992). Her parents were married in Westminster Abbey in 1954.

Her Mother: Frances Ruth Burke Roche (B: 1936), who was the daughter of a wealthy Anglo-Irish baron. She was only 18 years old when they married. They were divorced when Diana was young and her mother's second husband was Shand Kydd (married in 1969). Diana's mother now lives a secluded life in Scotland.

Diana's wealth was left to her dear sons, William and Harry, and her favorite charities.

Diana won swimming and diving trophies in school and she wanted to be a ballerina. However, she grew too tall for that. In 1992 she appeared onstage with the English National Ballet's Production of Swan Lake. Even though she didn't dance she was surrounded by ballerinas in a sort of circle to show that they felt she was one of them. This was one of the higher points of her life.

Diana was very young when she wed, and there were thirteen years between her and Charles. This marriage was to be like a fairy tale (Diana had admired Charles since she was 13 years old), but that illusion was shattered before the wedding, when she discovered that Charles had a lover (Camilla Shand Parker-Bowles). Apparently, he refused to marry Camilla when he was younger (she didn't have the right bloodlines), but their friendship continued even after they were both married. Charles met Camilla Shand in the early 70's at a polo match. Her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, had an affair with Charles relative, Edward VII (1841-1910), the eldest son of Queen Victoria. Camilla wed Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973 and divorced him in the 1990's.

Diana was directly descended from the Stuart kings of England and Scotland, and could trace her ancestry all the way back to the Anglo-Saxon monarchs. Diana was picked as Charles' wife because of her charm and bloodlines. However, she thought that Charles loved her, and therein began the start of the rift between them. She once said that had Charles loved her, there was nothing they couldn't have faced together.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister of England, was a descendant of Charles, 5th Earl of Sunderland.


Burrell, Paul. A Royal Duty. New York: A Signet Book, 2004 (with added new material).

Other Spencer Family Websites:

Royal Tiaras
Diana Celebration

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Last updated on May 18, 2018