Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK
Althorp opens for Diana tribute
Visitors paid tribute at a temple built in Princess Diana's memory
Around 2,500 people have visited the last resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales as Althorp Park was opened for the first time since her death.
Earl Spencer has created a museum in a converted stable block dedicated to his sister's memory which includes her school report, a card from Prince Charles and many of her outfits.
Long queues formed with visitors particulary keen to see the wedding dress in which she married Prince Charles.
The tiny villages that surround Althorp House, once home to Diana, Princess of Wales, have been preparing themselves for the influx of visitors.
More than 150,000 ticket-holders are expected to visit the estate grounds and view the island where Diana's body is buried over the next two months.
Up to 2,000 guests a day will get to watch hours of family home movies showing Diana playing and dancing.
Villagers 'hoping for the best'
The villagers themselves seem to be taking things in their stride. "We don't actually know what it's going to be like until it starts. We're hoping for the best," said Christine Whiley, who runs the Great Brington post office.
Local businesses may benefit from the influx of visitors. Accommodation is booked out and pubs and restaurants are already geared up for plenty of custom.
Colin Ward, landlord of the Fox and Hounds pub at nearby Harlestone, said he has seen a 25% increase in trade since Diana's death, and had served about 1,000 meals a day.
"It has been very different. We have seen people from all over the world,"
he said. "I think the Earl has handled the situation very well. I have a lot
of admiration for how he has put it together."
At the last count, there were around 8,000 tickets left despite rumours of a sell-out. "One problem was that people wrongly thought that every day had sold out following the initial surge of publicity," an estate spokesperson said.
Black market fears
All tickets have the names of the buyer printed on them, to prevent black market sales. However, tickets for the opening day were changing hands for almost six times their £9.50 face value.
The estate will close its doors again on August 30. The following day, the anniversary of Diana's death, the Spencer family will hold a graveside service.
Prince Charles, his sons and other members of the Royal family will attend a service near Balmoral, the Royal estate in Scotland.