Gypsy's Travels

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Travels with Em - "Blenheim Palace"

Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 and 1722 for John ,1st Duke of Marlborough, and his Duchess Sarah. It was a gift from Queen Anne as a reward for the Duke's military services after he successfully led the forces of a European Alliance against the French in the War of Spanish Succession. The victory he achieved at Blenheim on 13th August 1704 changed the political axis of power in the world by preventing the complete dominance of Europe by France. It was for this that Queen Anne built him this great house. This was a family home and in particular a monument to the Duke's achievement and to the Stuart dynasty.

Although the entrance to the Palace is austere and quite stark, the landscaping of the other areas more than makes up for it. Here there were small signs requesting that visitors please not walk on the gravel in this courtyard. We had been warned that the Duke has been known to come out and "yell at people who disturbed his gravel." The Duke was not in the day we visited, but we still did not disturb his gravel.
The upkeep on a historic place can take its toll. The 10th Duke made the decision to open the Palace to tourists on Easter 1950. I recall a TV interview with the 11th Duke when he explained that, although his peers were aghast that he would open his home to "The Public," it was necessary to open it or lose it. He and his family do live on the premises, but probably travel during the heavy tourist season.
The titled family does appear to be responsive to the needs of the community. During the Second World War, the 10th Duke welcomed evacuees from Malvern College for boys to the Palace. After the school was moved to another location, MI5 moved in. The Duke returned to the army, worked as a liaison officer in the British Army with the American armed forces in Britain and the Duchess became a working head of the Red Cross. In 2006, the 11th Duke celebrated his 80th Birthday by inviting the people of Oxfordshire, who were also 80 in the same year, to come to a tea party. Five hundred guests attended the party on the lawns outside. I hope they didn't step on the gravel.
Just 8 miles from Oxford, set in 2100 acres of beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the Palace was created a World Heritage site in 1987. Brown landscaped the Park, dug the 150 acre lake, built the cascades and demolished many of the formal French gardens in the 1760's. The Park and Gardens at Blenheim provide a majestic formal setting for the Palace. Mr. Winston Churchill proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier in The Arboretum. She became Baroness Churchill, Posted by Picasa


  1. Will future history lessons include a classroom in the hood?

  2. Actually,we have talked about several possibilities. First, we have to get the place built and functional!


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