Saturday, July 27, 2013


I know said that I'd post about Oxford today...the best laid plans and all of that...

Mom and I joined a group today for a tour that included both Blenheim and Oxford.  I think each is deserving of its own post.  So today will be about Blenheim, and tomorrow I'll tackle Oxford. 

I titled this post simply 'Blenheim' because I could not think of an adjective grand enough to do the palace justice.

The first Duke of Marlborough was given the Manor and Honor of Woodstock and Blenheim Palace in acknowledgement of his military achievements which culminated in the defeat of superior French forces in Blindheim on the river Danube in 1704.

Woodstock is a wonderful honey-colored village of historic homes, including the one above - the home of Chaucer's son

It is old and quiet and drowsily charming.

The village church, St. Mary Magadelene is unusual in that it still has a highly detailed arched doorway from the 12th century. 

It is a cozy and tidy church.

I was so impressed by the kneelers.
Each and everyone is unique.  A local project that began in the mid 1980's and took 15 years to complete.

Here are some that caught my eye.

And in a blink of an eye, and the turn of a corner, one goes from compact Woodstock, to the immensity that is Blenheim.

The bridge
The original palace was to the right of the bridge.
The architect did not like the location, so tore it down and rebuilt to the left of the bridge.

There is a large interior courtyard.

The details include the two lions in the middle of the collage.  The lions are eating roosters.  British lions devouring French cocks - an acknowledgement of England's military supremacy.

Many of you may already know that Winston Churchill arrive several weeks before his anticipated due date - he was born in this small bedroom. Note the small cat statue of on right of the bed - Winston had a soft spot for cats.

This is the North Corridor.

This is the Green Drawing Room.

The Spencer-Churchill family has wonderful portraits.
On the top left two children painted by a 'travelling artist' - look closely and the heads do not really match the bodies.  
Next up a wonderful study of the young Consuelo Vanderbilt.  
Next the family of the 1st Duke - this is most unusual as it is 'candid' and action packed.  The youngest daughter in the white dress and blue sash told Sir Joshua Reynold's she did not want to be painted.  He wanted to capture her look of disgruntlement and thus has an older sister teasing her with a theatrical mask.   
Lastly on the far right top row a John Singer Sargent painting of 9th Duke, his wife Conseulo, and their two sons.  Consuelo was much taller than her husband, so in an attempt to disguise that height differences he has her up a step and her husband slouching a bit.  I find it a very formal studied pose - the two parents don't have anything to do with each other - except with the heir in the center.  The poor 'spare' is clear off to the right side.

The Red Drawing Room

The Green Writing Room is dominated by the Blenheim tapestries.  This one shows the Duke accepting Marshall Tallard's surrender.

The Saloon - now used just once a year on Christmas Day. 

The First State Room (not to be confused with the Second State Room or the Third State Room!)


The Long Library - 183 feet long!

The far end of the library has this magnificent organ.

Lots of amazing accent pieces - the cradle on the top left for example.
My mother was taken with all the 'ring for a servant' bells like the one on the lower right.  I kept reminding her that had she lived 'back in the day' odds are she'd have been the answering the bell's summons rather than ringing the bell.

Blenheim Palace has extensive landscaped gardens.

Capability Jones is responsible for much of the design.

And while I did not see a wedding party today, I did see the preparation for one to be held at the palace later this evening.  I think it is going to be quite the thing!

Let's toast the happy couple with a glass of Pimm's shall we?


Ann at Beadlework. said...

Woodstock is very easy on the eye Beth, we've stayed very close by on several occasions. There's a caravan site called Bladon Chains a short walk from the Palace and Woodstock. We would walk from the site to Woodstock every evening. I love the red and white theme for the wedding.

Samplings from Spring Creek said...

The kneelers are very interesting. Have you seen the ones in the National cathedral in Washington DC also very interesting.

The wedding looked like an event

Margaret said...

Oh my gosh, that is so cool!!!!! Can you imagine Winston Churchill being born in a room you stood in? Wow! Those kneelers are amazing and so pretty too! Thanks for the tour -- I'm so enjoying all your posts!

Barb said...

Another beautiful place! It must be amazing to be in a place where Winston Churchill lived. I especially loved the pictures of the village!

cucki said...

So beautiful ..
The kneelers are very interesting too .
Love and hugs x

Vickie said...

I too love the kneelers. The tour was lovely.

Chris said...

Another lovely day. The kneelers are amazing. One of my friends that I travel to needlework events with was stitching pew cushions for many years on our travels :)

Annette-California said...

Lovely Huge Palace and the saloon room - can you imagine having Christmas Dinner there? I can:) Love the theme of the wedding tables - travel. Talk about a beautiful reception. Those tapestries are HUGE in the rooms, I wonder how many years of stitching. Loved our tour today - Thank you.
love Annette
yes those cushions are beautifully needlepointed and all done in wools. I especially was impressed the way they were stitched on the sides - beautiful pattern.

Melissa said...

Yes this deserve a post by itself. Blenheim is quite stunning! I live by a street call Blenheim so I will think of these photos now! Thank you, Beth!

Melanie said...

THAT DOOR. What a fabulous thing to start off with.
How do you even begin to comment on something so immense and full of so many precious items? The paintings and tapestries! And the organ!

Mouse said...

we went to Blenheim the other year and loved it too .. although there was no wedding going on or champagne either ... love mouse xxxx