Blenheim Palace and the Legacy of Vanbrugh

Since my fascination with the famous loo in my front yard, for which I named this blog, had now landed me on television (apparently my excitement had rubbed off on some of the locals at the pub and word of mouth had reached the BBC. They showed up at the manor one morning and, as the newfound 'resident expert,' I gave them a guided tour), I couldn't very well leave England without seeing Vanbrugh's (the architect) masterwork: Blenheim Palace.

The Palace (the only one in England not owned by Queen Elizabeth II) was a gift to the first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, after he defeated the French at the battle of Blindheim (Blenheim) in 1704 and is currently occupied by the 11th Duke of Marlborough. Since the palace is not just an historic monument but also a residence, it contains some personal items of the Duke and I found some of the pictures very interesting. Arranged on a table adjacent to the law library, were pictures of the Duke with some American Presidents: Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton, yet George W. was mysteriously absent.

Sir Winston Churchill, though never a Duke but of the royal bloodline, was also born there. The palace contains, among other Churchill artifacts, his crib; a lock of his baby hair; and a memorial to the former Prime Minister, making the experience also a World War II lesson.

The palace sits on 2100 acres of incredibly well-manicured greens interspersed with fountains and gardens, and, as I hope the pictures indicate, is clearly a site to behold. It was well worth the 9 mile cab ride to see more of Vanbrugh's work.