A short bus trip from London lies Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated about 8 miles from Oxford, it is currently the home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. As I've discovered time and time again, since it remains a personal home, no photos were allowed of the beautiful interiors, but later I'll share a unique way you can have a peek inside.
Our day started out optimistically sunny before turning grey and drizzly later in the day, but that did not keep us from enjoying the immense home and gardens. We entered through the gates, not fully knowing what we might expect to find on the other side.
We were amazed by the majesty and the size of this English Baroque structure. Gifted by Queen Anne to the first duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, for his succession of military triumphs, the home was built between 1705-1724. It continued to be the family home of the Churchill family for 300 years.
It was also the ancestral home and the birthplace of Winston Churchill, who was born 5 weeks early while his mother was visiting the estate. The interiors are lavish, with collections of amazing tapestries and paintings, displayed in state rooms with gilded ceilings. Many were jaw dropping.
The family has struggled through the years financially, coming close to near bankruptcy when the 9th duke of Marlborough inherited the dukedom. His decision to marry the American railroad heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt, poured enough money into the family to keep them going. I'm looking forward to reading her biography, The Glitter and the Gold.
The home is situated in 2100 acres of parkland, with formal gardens, a lake, and expansive grounds. A prettier day would have seen us walking the grounds extensively, but this particular day saw us taking a short stroll, enjoying a long lunch and touring the several gift shops to stay out of the weather.
All in all, it was a great day with friends.
Now if you want to see some of the interiors, it will soon be possible when the movie "Gulliver's Travels", starring Jack Black and Emily Blunt, is released around Christmas. Blenheim Palace served as the setting of the Palace of Lilliput, and you can take a sneak peek here. Click twice to view full screen.