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Princess Diana's brother takes us inside his family's home, which inspired 'Bridgerton'

The impressive estate inspired the set design for one of Netflix's most popular series.
/ Source: TODAY

The majestic Althorp estate is more than just a sprawling home in the English countryside: It's the family home of Princess Diana. Diana spent her teenage years at Althorp, and it's now the residence of her younger brother, Charles Spencer.

As if that weren't enough, Althorp was also a major inspiration for Netflix's "Bridgerton."

NBC News correspondent Molly Hunter traveled to the 13,000-acre estate for a closer look. Spencer himself gave her a personal tour, starting with the "rather dramatic" entrance hall.

The entrance hall of Althorp is filled with centuries-old art and elaborate details. TODAY

Upon entering the building, guests are greeted with towering portraits, elaborate molding and looming statues. While that might sound like a lot, Spencer insisted it's "not overpowering."

"I think the whole point of this house, and it is obviously of a scale, but it's not bling. It's not overpowering. I hope!" Spencer said, laughing.

Princess Diana spent her teenage years at the family home. TODAY

For "Bridgerton" creator Chris Van Dusen, Spencer's description is accurate. The executive producer and showrunner visited Althorp in 2018, and it quickly inspired some of the sets for the steamy Regency-era romance.

"You walk into that house, and it's immediately apparent that it's a family home, and there's a warmth there," Van Dusen said. "And everything is just so opulent and elegant. I really wanted to capture the spirit of a family and the love that a family holds for each other."

On Twitter, Van Dusen said that a major piece of inspiration had been Althorp's main staircase, which is lined with family portraits.

The sweeping staircase inspired a central set of Netflix's "Bridgerton." TODAY

"When I was writing the pilot script, I actually wrote that there was this grand central staircase in the middle of the Bridgerton house with portraits suspended above it, much like Althorp," Van Dusen told Hunter. "Those words are literally in the script."

Spencer said that he wasn't aware of Althorp's inspiration to the show until Van Dusen tweeted about it in 2020, after the series was released.

"I think it's fabulous," Spencer said. "It's a huge compliment, not to me, because these designs have been here for a very long time, but to my ancestors who were lucky enough to be able to employ great artists to make the interior of Althorp great. And there they are, living on in a slightly different form."

Dozens of family portraits, including one of Princess Diana, hang over the staircase. TODAY

The "dramatic" staircase isn't the only space that caught Van Dusen's eye: Spencer joked that the room called "Painters' Passage," which features self-portraits and busts, might have to be called "The Bridgerton Room" going forward.

The home's "Picture Gallery" is the "showstopper" room, according to Spencer.

The home's "Picture Gallery" is the "showstopper," according to Spencer.TODAY

While much of the room is dedicated to the 500-year-old family collection of art, Spencer has snuck in a few modern touches.

"People get whiplash," he explained. "When we have the public walking past, they see all the 17th century, and suddenly there is something from 2008."

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