"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Blenheim Palace - Part 1



We had a family day out at Blenheim Palace last weekend. D and E have mentioned visiting numerous times in the past and, although I think B had been on a scouts day out when he was young, I had never been.

Blenheim Palace is a World Heritage site and was given to the first Duke of Marlborough by Queen Anne as a thank you for leading the victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The palace was designed by the architect Sir John Vanbrugh and the parkland was created by the landscaper Lancelot "Capability" Brown between 1764 and 1774.

The parkland had hundreds of beautiful trees - many veteran and ancient. More tree pictures in the second post.

We arrived at 10.30 a.m. and already it was very very busy with people leaving cars and making a bee-line for the Palace and many more marching down from the coach park. To be honest I don't think a Sunday in the middle of the school holidays was perhaps the best day to visit!



On this trip Timothy came along too.

B suggested looking round the inside of the palace first before it got even busier but it was not a good idea as there were dozens of people milling around inside and it was a matter of shuffling round the rooms. B and D left pretty quickly. E and I persevered! Although we did return about an hour later for a second viewing and luckily it was a lot quieter then.

Apologies for the quality of the photos - but if you haven't been to Blenheim Palace I hope it will give an idea of the splendours inside.

The Great Hall

The ceiling was painted in 1716 by Sir James Thornhill. Stone carvings around the hall were created by Grinling Gibbons and his assistants.

The Green Drawing Room

The painting over the fireplace by George Romney is of George Spencer - the 4th Duke of Marlborough who inherited the title in 1758 and was Duke for 59 years. He commissioned Capability Brown to landscape the park and was a great collector particularly of gemstones. He was interested in canal building and astronomy.

The Red Drawing Room

The painting is of the 4th Duke and his family painted by Sir Joshua Reynold in 1778.

The renowned Marlborough Tapestries hang in 4 rooms - The Green Writing Room and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd State Rooms. They depict scenes from battles in which the first Duke took part.

The Green Writing Room

The Saloon was once a reception room but is now used as a dining room. The ceiling painting is by Louis Laguerre.

The First State Room

A painting of Consuela wife of the 9th Duke painted in 1894.

The Second State Room

Bronze sculpture of the baby who was to become the 10th Duke.

The Third State Room

The Long Library - believed to be the second longest room of any house in England. It is 56 metres long and 10 metres high and contains 10,000 books collected by the 9th Duke.

The library looks over the water terraces.

The Willis Organ installed in 1891.

There is a very good exhibition on Sir Winston Churchill who was born at Blenheim on 30th November, 1874, in the home of his grandfather, the 7th Duke. Winston spent many of his childhood years at the palace,proposed to his future wife Clementine there and it was where they spent the first few days of their honeymoon. Winston and his cousin the 9th Duke, saw action in both the Boer War and World War 1. He was elected to parliament in 1900 and held many ministerial posts during the following 55 years and served as Prime Minister during World War 2 between 1940 and 1945 and again in 1950/51. After his death on 24th January, 1965, a state funeral was held and then, in line with his wishes he was buried close to his parents and brother in the churchyard of St Martin's in Bladon - very close to Blenheim Palace.

This cabinet contains 100 "Blanc de Chine" white porcelain pieces made between 1661 and 1722 during the reign of the Kengxi Emperor.



Back outside with views of the Great Court and

then into the Chapel.

The Chapel contains a monument to the 1st Duke who is portrayed as a Roman General accompanied by his wife Sarah and 2 sons who died young. It is made of marble and was designed by William Kent.

You can also take a guided tour of the palace called the Untold Story which visits some of the rooms upstairs and sometimes when the family is absent there are tours of some of the private rooms.

Time for lunch - mozzarella, pesto, tomato and salad panini and a brownie - in the Waterside Terrace restaurant.

We spent the afternoon exploring the gardens and park which I'll write about in a second post.

*D Photos taken by D with the Canon bridge camera SX50

Reference - Blenheim Palace Guide Book