An extensive redesign is in the works at the grounds of Princess Diana's gravesite

By Dave Quinn
Updated May 05, 2016 04:00 PM
Credit: David Levenson/Rex USA

The island where Princess Diana was laid to rest on September 6, 1997, is undergoing an extensive redesign.

Lead by Diana’s brother Charles, Earl Spencer, and his wife, Karen, Countess Spencer, the redesign will be the first major revamp made to the property in 350 years, the family announced in a press release. Completion is set for August 2017, just in time for the 20th anniversary of the late Princess of Wales’ death.

Diana’s gravesite can be found on an island at the center of the Althorp Estate – a stately home in the town of Northampton, U.K., located about 70 miles from London.

The Estate is owned by the Spencer family, one of England’s oldest and most illustrious aristocratic families. (Another prestigious member of the Spencer family? Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill).

When her father, John Spencer, inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975, then-Lady Diana Spencer and her family moved to Althorp. Since her father’s death in 1992, the Estate has been operated by Diana’s younger brother Charles, the ninth Earl Spencer, who married his third wife, Karen, in 2011.
The Althorp Estate was built in 1508, and spans about 13,000 acres surrounding its walled 500-acre park. The grounds were originally masterminded 350 years ago by King Louis XIV s principal gardener Andr Le N tre – the designer of the gardens of Versailles.

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The island where Diana is buried lies in the center of the Round Oval lake on the stately grounds. A tall monument statue honoring Diana can be seen from the other side of the lake.

There is also a small temple for Diana for visitors to pay their respects. It contains a black silhouette of Diana set in white marble. Her name is engraved on the temple’s top.

A tablet can be found on either side of the temple. One displays the concluding tribute given by Charles at Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey. The other holds a quote from Diana, expressing her deep love for charitable work.

A memorial stone also appears on the grounds, surrounded by a circular black metal gate. A series of 38 oak trees were planted on the estate, each symbolizing a year of Diana’s life. Hundreds of white roses and white water lilies were also planted after her death.

In 1998, the Althorp Estate opened a public museum and exhibit titled “Diana: A Celebration.” On display were hundreds of personal effects and clothing – everything from video of Diana’s first steps to her childhood ballet shoes.

At the centerpiece of the museum was Diana’s spectacular royal wedding dress, designed by David Emanuel.

All profits from the museum, accompanying restaurant, and gift shop went to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

The exhibit closed in 2013. Many of Diana’s personal items, including her wedding dress, were transferred to Prince William and Prince Harry.

The museum is now dedicated to the treasures of the Spencers, and how their family shaped Althorp.

The Althorp Estate is open to visitors occasionally throughout the year. A guided tour will take you through the interiors of the extravagant house, and allow you to explore the gardens and park.

However, there is no access for the public to the island itself. No word on whether that will change after the renovation to the grounds are complete.