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Posted:  Saturday 24 November 2018

A visit to
Blenheim Palace and Gardens
South East Associates

- Tuesday 21st August –

Blenheim Palace is an impressive stately home, situated eight miles north-west of Oxford, on the edge of the picturesque village of Woodstock.

It is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and has the distinction of being the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of ‘palace’.
One of England's largest houses, it was built between 1705 and 1722, and has been the home of the Churchill, later Spencer-Churchill, family for over 300 years.

Sir Winston Churchill was born here and his life is commemorated by a permanent Churchill Exhibition and a recently completed memorial garden.

The palace, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in the English Baroque style, is named for the 1704 Battle of Blenheim - Blindheim in Bavaria.  It was specifically built as gift from Queen Anne to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, to celebrate his military triumphs against the French and Bavarians in the War of the Spanish Succession.

At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough's marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Our visit began in the Indian Room with a short introductory talk before we were led out for a brief guided tour of the palace gardens and grounds.

There are more than 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and formal gardens, largely created or influenced by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Highlights of the garden tour included The Italian Garden - not open to the general public - whose centrepiece is its gilded Mermaid fountain, the Victorian Rose Garden, the Water Terraces and the Churchill Memorial Garden and 90ft - for the 90 years of his life - timeline path.

The organised
part of the visit
concluded with
our guide
walking us through
the opulent State Rooms
of the palace,
resplendent with
and ornaments.

Interestingly, the palace is currently hosting an exhibition showcasing the life and art of the French artist, Yves Klein, who developed and patented his own colour - International Klein Blue - IKB.  It was strange seeing Klein’s contemporary artwork, mainly in IKB - a dazzling ultramarine - juxtaposed with the lavish furnishings and historical splendour normally on show.

Our tour ended in the Long Library, which houses the impressive 125-year-old Willis organ.  It is the largest organ in a private residence in Europe, with 2,300 pipes and 52 speaking stops.

The group then dispersed for lunch and Associates were free to explore the grounds and gardens, revisit the State Rooms and explore nearby Woodstock at leisure.

There is much to see and experience at Blenheim, far too much to appreciate in a single visit - I’ll be back!

Paul Kowald

(fd  22/11/2018)

(ph  22/11/2018)

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