"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


CherryPie said...

Lovely photos, it is a while since I have visited. But I do remember enjoying the Churchill exhibition.

Rosie said...

How lovely to have a family day out. I remember that large entrance hall and the ceiling, it's years (1980s) since we visited, we were on a camp site near Whitney and spent the day at Blenheim and Woodstock. I don't remember much else so it was good to see your photos. You were very brave to visit on a Sunday in the school holidays, I find it hard to cope with crowds of people nowadays. Your lunch looks very tasty. Look forward to seeing more about the grounds:)

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you - yes the Churchill exhibition was very interesting :)

Rosie - Thank you. I would have liked to explore Woodstock and visit the church at Bladon too but sadly no time! So much to see and do at Blenheim and we were there for hours! I totally agree about crowds as we arrived and I saw the hordes I thought this is a huge mistake I am not going to enjoy this! It was very very busy round the house but thankfully a little quieter when we explored the grounds. I think also we had managed to pick the weekend of the year when they have a family bike day so that made it even busier!! Worth going to though and I would like to see it at a quieter time of the year and week - if it is ever quiet!!

Julie @Dragonflygems said...

Have never been to Blenheim Palace so it's lovely to see your photos. What a beautiful tree.. look forward to seeing more of them in part 2. :o)

Ragged Robin said...

Julie@Dragonflygems - Thanks so much :) It was my first visit so all very new to me too :) So glad you enjoyed.

amanda peters said...

Another lovely place to visit, there are some amazing buildings to see and I think this is one. I am always staggered at the size and architecture of these places. All the rooms are superber , what would it have been like to live here, its just stunning.. so pleased it's still standing today in all it's glory.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks very much. It is one of the largest buildings I have ever been to and yes the architecture is incredible. I think though it was the Capability Brown landscape that most impressed me. I might be wrong but I think a lot of these huge stately homes may survive because of opening to the public. It must cost a fortune to maintain a place like that! Imagine the heating bills!!!

Tricia Ryder said...

It's am amazing building and gardens are so different from so many other places... Ironically I was there 3 days before your visit..!!

Ragged Robin said...

Tricia Ryder - Thanks Tricia - yes I read your lovely post. It was an amazing coincidence us visiting so close together! :) Yes, the gardens are different - very formal and the parkland is wonderful! By the way it looked much quieter when you visited looking at your photos!!

Chris Rohrer said...

Your panini looked very good. I have been enjoying B's outlook on life from the the last several reads....no desert time in the tea room, no paying for the train....and now the people:) This character sounds a lot like me:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris - the lunch was lovely and we had cake :) lol! re: B (my husband!!) :) Don't usually write much personal stuff about the family but sometimes I can't resist - luckily I don't think he ever reads the blog!

Chris Rohrer said...

:) I figured. My hubby is the same way. He's similar to your personality from what I gather from your writings. And I'm more like B:) I hate crowds and crowds of people....and I hate to say it....but I would walk over taking an overpriced train ticket...even though it would be more fun:) I'm not one to turn down desert but if I saw a tea room full of people, I'd run:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Ha ha :) Though have to say I don't like crowds either - I think it was the thought of queueing that put him off plus the cost!! He isn't keen on National Trust houses - as he doesn't agree with the display of landed gentry wealth even if it is in the past! Me I just enjoy them because of all the history. Luckily he usually enjoys the gardens! :)