Brit to chat on history, furniture

The Baltimore Sun

A peer of the British realm travels to Harford County tomorrow to talk a little history, share a spot of tea and show off replicas of furnishings from Althorp, his 500-acre estate in Northhamptonshire.

Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer and maternal uncle of the heir to England's throne, will hold court at Jarrettsville Furniture, where he will promote a line of high-end furniture that he helped design.

The earl's visit will include a receiving line that meanders through rooms filled with precise reproductions patterned after furnishings of the earl's 165-room ancestral home, and an English tea.

Spencer makes at least one trip annually to the former colonies to oversee design and production of the Althorp line and decided to add the Jarrettsville visit to his itinerary, said Alan Schrum, the furniture company's director of marketing.

The earl is expected to opine on the decor at Althorp, his 500-year-old mansion about 80 miles north of London. The estate, where Spencer resides with his six children, has lent its name to home products manufactured by the Sherrill Furniture Co. in High Point, N.C. Spencer has overseen much of the design and production of the Althorp line.

"Each piece is authentically made within 1/32nd of an inch," Schrum said. "If you change anything, height, depth, hardware, it's not a reproduction. It's an adaptation."

Spencer will sign the nearly 300 pieces in the new Althorp Gallery at the Jarrettsville store.

The line runs the gamut from $300 jewelry boxes to a $30,000 secretary desk.

Although he declines to discuss Princess Diana or his nephews, Spencer has promised to take questions on family history. It's a subject on which he is most knowledgeable, since he has published four histories, two on his family and two on related themes.

In Blenheim, Battle for Europe, he gave an account of the 1704 conflict won by the first Duke of Marlborough, an ancestor. That volume won a nomination for History Book of the Year at the 2005 National Book Awards.

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