Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Remembering Princess Diana

Althorp - Princess Diana's childhood home

Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

In memory of the 10th Anniversary of Princess Diana's death, A Postcard From New York Encore published May 2, 2007.

Princess Diana will always hold a special place in my heart since she died on my birthday. So with sadness, I paused a moment when I saw the book, Althorp Living History, lying casually on a coffee table in the Antique Galleries at ABC Carpet and Home.

But then, how can one remain sad when you think of Diana's beautiful laughing smile and her shy mischievous eyes?

Soon after she and Charles were married, I had the good fortune to finagle an invitation for art collector clients to visit Althorp for a luncheon with her late father and the Countess of Spencer. The long drive on the estate's gravel road to the mansion remains a vivid memory.

If you have lived in or visited the British Isles, you are familiar with the sight of herds of sheep as they graze in lush green fields and meadows throughout the countryside. In a city like New York, we are completely isolated from such bucolic scenes right out of an 18th century novel. What made the drive to Althorp unusual was, not only were there sheep grazing, but a herd of Black Angus cows as well. Holding my breath to avoid the pungent odor of manure nearly made me gag; I had never seen such massive animals outside of the ones at a zoo, so close-up.

We quickly forgot the unpleasant aroma outside as we stood in the elegant guest entrance hall surrounded by great horse portraits by the artist, John Wootton. With the magnificent collections of paintings, silver, antique furnishings, Persian carpets, decorative art, porcelain, and objects of art, great country houses like Althorp are a pleasant reminder of a time and a past way of life.

In today's world, these homes present a real problem. The cost to maintain such properties is staggering, as repairs and upkeep never end. No matter the resources of the owner, they are a constant challenge.

Anyone who owns a home knows the time and money required to stay ahead of repairs and maintenance; There's always something, the boiler, the gutters, the ceiling, the roof, the plumbing, the wiring, or the vents; Now, image your home has over 100 rooms!

How clever of Diana's brother, Charles Edward, Earl of Spencer, to collaborate with Theodore Alexander to create exquisite reproductions of Althorp's extraordinary antiques. He has found a way to finance the maintenance of his ancestral home, while he shares Diana with all of us, at the same time.

We can imagine her as a youngster running and playing games like hide and seek, peeking out behind a high-backed wing chair, or on her knees under a great desk or table.

Take a walk through the Althorp Collection and live the dream of being lord or mistress of the manor. Then go home and rent a movie like "Remains of the Day" or "The Queen."

Jacqueline Cable
For Postcards from New York

P.S. Those of us who share a particular affection for Diana will enjoy Mario Testino’s beautiful photographs of her at home in his recently published Diana Princess of Wales by Mario Testino at Kensington Palace: Princess of Wales.

Address to remember: ABC Carpet and Home, 888 Broadway at 19th Street. New York, NY 10003. 212-473-3000.

Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM - 8 PM, Saturday 10 AM - 7 PM, Sunday 11 AM - 6:30 PM.

Directions: From Times Square MTA, N, R, or W to 23rd Street. Bus M2, M3, and M5.

Address to remember: Althorp, Northampton, Northhamptonshire. England, UK NN7 4HQ

Directions: From London M1 North Exit 16 or 18

Photo courtesy of Beric Tempest & Company

©Copyright 2007 The Cable Group