Blenheim Palace and Gardens

October 24, 2014

By Tab Byrum

Today is the funeral for His Grace, The Duke of Marlborough, so I thought it appropriate that I share a little about our recent visit to his home, Blenheim Palace. 

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The 11th Duke of Marlborough, John Spencer-Churchill
1926 – 2014

We were scheduled to visit Blenheim last Friday the 17th, but the Duke died the day before on Thursday and out of respect his home was closed on Friday. We were able to reschedule our visit for Saturday. We took the train from Paddington Station to Oxford, and from Oxford we caught a bus to Blenheim. 

Blenheim Palace and it’s grounds were a gift from Queen Ann in 1705 to the first Duke of Marlborough, the gift was a thank you to the Duke for his defeat of the French at the Battle of Blenheim in Austria.  The Palace is one of the largest private homes in the UK and was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in the Baroque style, the grounds were designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, both men were leaders in architecture and landscaping. 
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The standard of the Duke at half staff as you approach the entrance. 
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The front entrance to Blenheim Palace.
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Blenheim is the perfect example of symmetry, as you face the front of the house this is the
wing on the left side of the front entrance, there is an exact match to this on the right
side of the front entrance.  The side above houses the private quarters of the family. 
The interiors of Blenheim are beautiful and you definitely feel transported back in time as you are allowed to walk the halls, either on a guided tour or on your own, and explore the gorgeous furnishings and art collected by the previous 11 Dukes of Marlborough. 
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The Main Entrance Hall
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One of many halls lined with marble busts of previous occupants.
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The Green Salon with a painting of King George III over the fireplace. 
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The Main Dining Room, set for a formal dinner. 
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There are amazing tapestries in several rooms of Blenheim.
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A statue of Queen Ann, she gifted the grounds and house to the 1st Duke of Marlborough.
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The view from one end of the Long Library, with the massive pipe organ at the opposite end.
In 1895, American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt married the soon to be 9th Duke, bringing with her a sizable dowery that allowed the Marlborough’s to make much needed repairs to the palace and bring it into the 20th Century. 
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A portrait of the 9th Duke and his American wife Consuelo Vanderbilt and their two sons. 
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Although she and the 9th Duke of Marlborough separated in 1906 and divorced in 1921
there are several portraits of Consuelo Vanderbilt hanging in the palace.  
Winston Churchill was a grandson of the 8th Duke and was born at Blenheim in 1874.  There’s a wonderful exhibit in the palace that focuses on Churchill’s life and the time he spent here, as well as rooms he used, including the room he was born in. 
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The room and bed where Winston Churchill was born. 
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Two statues of Churchill, a bust in the main exhibit room and statue of he and his beloved wife Clementine. 
After our tour and lunch on the terrace overlooking the formal gardens we headed out to explore the other gardens and lands around Blenheim. They are still today as they were over 300 years ago, beautiful. With fountains and various garden arrangements scattered all over the grounds, you can spend hours just walking, sitting on benches and exploring. 
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A view of the lake on the Blenheim grounds.
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The rear view of Blenheim from one of the lower formal gardens.
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Autumn is slowly creeping into the Blenheim gardens.
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You can see here just how massive some of the trees are.
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This fountain was restored by The American Friends of Blenheim Palace in 2012. 
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Two views of the private family garden on the east side of the palace.
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Formal Italian Water Garden.
If you have a chance to visit Blenheim you definitely should, it’s truly remarkable, and to see how amazing design has stood the test of time and only gotten better with age. Here’s wishing good health, good luck and long life to Lord Jamie, the 12th Duke of Marlbourough. 
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Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own. 

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