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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace

This is the second of a series of three themed posts about 
Sir Winston Churchill
Blenheim Palace near the village of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England, is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill (1874 -1965).
Blenheim Palace had been built for John Churchill, who was created the first Duke of Marlborough after he had secured victory in the battle of Blenheim in the War of Spanish Succession (fought to halt Spain and France uniting against the other European powers).  John Churchill was the son of the first Sir Winston Churchill (1620-1688) and a direct ancestor of the twentieth century one.

Blenheim is in fact a huge country house and the only building in Great Britain to be styled a ‘Palace’ that is neither Royal nor the residence of a Bishop. Currently the Palace is still the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. Interestingly the title ‘Duke of Marlborough’ is the only aristocratic one deemed suo jure which means it can be inherited through the male or female line.
Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, his grandfather’s home, on 30th November 1874. When aged seven he was sent to boarding school where he massively under-achieved and “misbehaved”. These were to be characteristics of his continuing education. His parental contact with his father was virtually non-existent and with his Brooklyn-born mother Jenny,  it was “distant”. From this distance in time it does not  surprise me that he was difficult! Blenheim is located in the delightful historic market town of Woodstock and makes for a very lovely place to visit. It's full of Churchill memorabilia and is now a World Heritage Site.
When a British Prime Minister steps down it is customary for them to be offered an earldom but Churchill had the offer of the special privilege of being created Duke of London in 1955. He turned it down because, at the time, it was not possible to renounce any kind of peerage and the hereditary title would have prevented his descendants from sitting in the House of Commons.
Aerial view of Blenheim Palace
I’m listening to Sissel Kyrkjebø, the utterly fabulous Norwegian soprano, showing her effortless talent when singing Puccini's 
O Mio Babbino Caro. Listen here

10 comments:

Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, I was unaware of Churchill's association with Blenheim. For me the name Blenheim automatically evokes the incomparable Blenheim Orange apple--you are lucky that living in England, you can get them at their best!
--Jim

Hels said...

I thought I wasn't going to like Blenheim because of the original kerfuffle over the architectural planning and finances. I am sorry about Vanburgh's reputation, but once John Churchill died, it seemed that the grieving widow Sarah wanted the palace to meet HER needs. The large public rooms are lovely.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Oh my, what a magnificent structure! This is such an interesting post, Bazza, and I look forward to your third installment.

I am looking forward to seeing the Churchill movie that opens in the US during the holidays. I love history and after viewing the trailer, it is a must-see for me.

I wish you a joyful holiday season, Bazza, and a good year to come.

bazza said...

Jim: The name of the Blenheim Orange apple has always amused me. It makes for a brilliant quiz question! It originates from that area at around the time the house was built. I believe it's a cooking apple.

bazza said...

Hels: Yes, I edited that story out of this post although it is probably more interesting than what I did post! I have visited the house and it certainly leaves a lasting impression on one.
The impression is mainly "How the other half lives!"

bazza said...

Arleen: I just watched the trailer on You Tube and it's definitely one for me too! Gary Oldman is one of my favourite actors (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is probably my favourite film along with Some Like it Hot.)

Sherry Ellis said...

Blenheim Palace is an impressive-looking building! That's a great picture of Churchill. It's funny how his personality showed through even at that young age.

bazza said...

Sherry: Yes, I thought that too - that's why I selected that particular photo. Even at age seven he had a certain something about him!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I've never been to Blenheim that I can remember ... but was at school with Christina Onassis - though she was younger and I never got one of her invitations - possibly because we were boarding... dunno! It does look a wonderful property to view and to wander in the grounds - when I get back I must make a plan to get there. Churchill always had that air as you and Sherry describe ... thanks for the information - cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hilary: It's something to add to your Bucket List when you return to the UK! For me it was an unforgettable experience. So full of historic atmosphere.