Spencer follows a three-day period from the perspective of Princess Diana (played by Kristen Stewart) at Christmas in 1991, the last time she would spend the holidays with the royals before parting ways with her husband the following year. While many may associate Princess Di with royal residences such as Buckingham Palace Where Kensington Palace, her early childhood home, Park House, located on the Sandringham Estate just west of Sandringham House, a frequent vacation spot for Queen Elizabeth II and members of her family, is the only place she belonged to really.
Princess Diana was born at Park House and lived there until she was 14, when she and her family moved in Althorp House (a 100,000 square foot mansion with 90 rooms) after his father, John Spencer, acquired his title of Viscount Althorp.
All along Spencer, we see Diana constantly trying to return to her abandoned childhood home in an attempt to relive a period of her life when she was not confined to the constraints of being royal.
The film’s production designer, Guy Hendrix Dyas, reveals to Beautiful House that another historic property was used to recreate Park House for its starring role in Spencer: âAn old mansion called Marquardt Palaceâ[located] north of Potsdam, near Berlin. He adds that the design team spotted this spot in late summer 2020 after only seeing pictures of it. âThe building, now a popular filming destination, was once a large estate dating back to the 14th century, although the current structure dates from 1879,â says Hendrix Dyas.
Another site that helped bring Park House back to life was the grounds of Schloss Nordkirchen, a castle in Nordkirchen, Germany, decorator Yesim Zolan reveals. This structure served as the exterior of Princess Di’s childhood home; although in real life it actually serves as an office at the nearby North Rhine-Westphalia University of Applied Financial Sciences.
Of course, the Spencers had their own royal ties before Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, so growing up on a royal estate was only customary. “Diana and her two siblings mingled with the royal family [including the children] growing up, âsays Hendrix Dyas. “The Spencer family descended from a long line of aristocrats and had been closely associated with the Royal Family for decades, and praised Park House in the Queen’s estate.”
Naturally, it’s not hard to imagine the lasting impact Park House had on Princess Diana, as her carefree childhood turned out to be a stark contrast to her later years. Kristen Stewart’s take on the royal “is filled with fond memories of life at Park House,” says Hendrix Dyas. And yet, the abode becomes a place that ultimately haunts the princess in the film, bringing back fond childhood memories “and a life that might have been if she hadn’t married royalty.”
While Diana continued to live in much larger houses later in her life, nothing has ever been compared to Park House. “After his years at Althorp House, she lived independently in an elegant flat in Earls Court then in Kensington, both in London before being transferred to Clarence House after the proposal of Prince Charles â, adds Hendrix Dyas. After their marriage, she resided at Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace. But, “despite all their finery, none of these houses has ever really replaced Park House”, to the point that “close friends[of Diana]often spoken [her] nostalgia for the life she led there.
Today, Park House is used for charity, as Queen Elizabeth left the property to Leonard Cheshire Disability in 1983, after it was left derelict following the Spencer’s move to Althorp House in 1975.
At the end of Spencer, Diana is finally able to return to her one true home, although she may never be who she once was. It is now devoid of everything it was filled with as a child – family, friends and even familiarity, as it has decayed over time, to the point that Kristen Stewart’s Diana almost falls down the decaying staircase. . But the only place Park House remains as it was is in Diana’s memories, in which she has flashbacks of playing on the sprawling property with her siblings when they were children, proving that the lasting impact of our houses never leave us, and a house is not always a house.
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