House & Family History: The Spencers first established themselves in Warwickshire in the 15th century (their first manor house was Hodnell in Warwickshire). John Spencer (died 1522) became feoffee of Wormleighton in 1469, a tenant at Althorp in 1486, was granted arms in 1504, acquired the lordship of Wormleighton from the Cope family in 1507 (Wormleighton Manor House was four times the size of Althorp, the Spencer's later and current seat), was granted a license to crenellate in 1512 (for both Wormleighton and Althorp), and was knighted by King Henry VIII. Sir John gained his wealth by enclosing lands and converting arable land into pasture; with thousands of sheep, he was a farming entrepreneur who formed the Spencer fortune. Robert Spencer, 1st Baron Spencer of Wormleighton (died October 25, 1627), was the great, great, great, great grandson of Sir John. He was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1601 and was said to be the wealthiest man in England at the succession of James I. Wormleighton was a large manor house built circa 1512 with 17th, 18th, and 19th century alterations and additions. The House was built of English bond brick with regular coursed rubble ironstone and ashlar and had a tile roof with stone coped gable parapets (still in place). Wormleighton was severely damaged during the Civil War and only a fragment of the House, now a farmhouse, remains today. The Small Dining Room at Althorp contains oak paneling of 1605 and a stone fireplace, both removed from Wormleighton and installed at Althorp circa 1925. The Chapel at Althorp contains armorial stained glass windows from Wormleighton, brought to Althorp in the 19th century (some of the glass is dated 1588).
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat of: Cope family, until 1507. John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer, 18th century; Spencer family here since the 16th century.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
House Open to Public: No
Historic Houses Member: No