Karen Spencer invites a special guest to the Walled Garden at Althorp, Princess Diana’s Home

Last year, Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, and his wife, Karen, Countess Spencer, started Spencer 1508, a web series chronicling the upkeep of Althorp House, the family estate where Princess Diana lived as a teenager and was buried after her death in 1997. Over the past few months, the series showcased Karen’s efforts to revive the site’s walled garden, which had been a source of vegetables for the kitchen, along with flowers to decorate the home. On Friday, welcome by Spencer 1508 John Richardson, a custodian of the estate for over 40 years, to help Karen plan her garden renovation.

On Instagram, Charles shared a picture of Richardson and pointed out how long his tenure with the family lasted. “He started here with my grandfather in 1963, a year before I was born,” he said, adding that Richardson had “insights of his Walled Garden. What Althorp was like in the 60s and earlier, and hopefully it will return. “

In the video, Richardson reminisces about the day Charles was brought home from the hospital in 1964 and shares that his grandfather, Albert, 7th Earl of Spencer, particularly enjoyed building gates and columns made of oak. He added that he remembered that Winston Churchill, a distant cousin of the Spencers, liked to visit the walled gardens when he visited Althorp.

Karen, the wife of 11 years of Charles, used several episodes to discuss the process of reviving the old walled garden, which may have been abandoned after the Second World War, when the houses stately homes across the country had to demolish their gardens due to high maintenance costs. In a November video, she points out that important parts of the old garden are still intact. “The fundamentals — a lot of the big infrastructure is still intact and in shape,” she said. “The walls, the gates, the house in the garden—the backbone of the garden is still there for us to build on.”

When Richardson visited, he said he spent a lot of time trying to keep the garden’s brick walls strong by clearing ivy and other plants growing on them. But he broke down in tears adding that he felt like he hadn’t done enough. “I wish I could turn back the clock to know what I know now,” he said.

Karen thanked him for the work he did. She later said: “It was really touching to see how much he cared. “It just reminds you of the generations of people who have dedicated their lives to keeping this house and this park running and keeping it in the shape it is now.”

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