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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Blenheim Palace

The 7-acre Blenheim Mansion in Oxfordshire, Vanburgh's massive baroque attempt to emulate Versailles grandeur, was granted in recognition of John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough’s victory at the Battle of Bleinheim. In all £250,000 of the total building cost of £300,000 was defrayed by parliament.

The actual building of the Palace was not trouble free. The first problem was that the Duchess did not want such a grand residence. She hoped for a smaller country house designed for comfort first and status second. She had many arguments with the architect Vanbrugh until Vanbrugh resigned.

Sarah, the First Duchess, being a strong willed woman unfortunately fell out of favour with the Queen. Court intrigue made the most of this and for a short while the Marlboroughs were forced into exile to Europe in 1712 due to charges of embezzlement. Building of the Palace came to a halt  and eventually the Palace was completed at the Duke’s own expense.

The greatest impact on Blenheim was made by the 9th Duke. He created the formal gardens to east and west of the Palace, restored the Great Court and replanted the entrance avenue and the Grand Avenue. In total he had half million trees planted in the Park. Inside the house the 9th Duke was responsible for a complete redecoration of the State Rooms. He also added extensively to the collection at Blenheim particularly the furniture.

In the twentieth century during the both World Wars the dukes allowed Blenheim Palace to be used in various ways for the war effort. During the First World War it was converted into a hospital in order to nurse wounded soldiers.

The most famous member of the family was Sir Winston Churchill who was born at Blenheim and spent a considerable amount of time at the Palace. Winston was the grandson of the 7th duke. He was a close friend of the 9th Duke and Duchess.

Queen Elizabeth II still owns the land which Blenheim is built on and she still gets paid rent. However the only payment that is required is a Blenheim Flag.

Bleinheim Palace has 187 rooms.

 Blenheim Palace is the only building in England other than royal buildings to be honored with the title of 'Palace'.

The surrounding trees are planted in groups to represent the Battle of Bleinheim.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999,

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