A Day off the Canal –  4th August 2022

Our plan for the day was to visit Blenheim Palace. Thrupp, which is the town where we are moored is only about a 10 minute car ride from the Palace, so it was an opportune time to visit it.

We were last here in 1991 and it was very early season.

We remember it as being extremely cold and the flowers had not even been planted.

This time was a different scenario.

The concern this time was that the lawns were very dry and England is in a drought and garden hose bans are now in place.

Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 and 1722 after the land on which it now stands was gifted to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Marlborough had been rewarded for his victory over the French and Bavarian forces at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, after which the palace was named. Queen Anne who had provided the peerage and funds to Marlborough to build the palace but she had a falling out with his wife and hence the funds stopped. They then had to fund the remaining build themselves.

Like all great homes money became a problem until the 9th Duke of Marlborough married a wealthy American heiress from the Vanderbilt family in 1895 – sound familiar – think Downton Abbey. This certainly helped keep the place going.

Moving back to 30th November 1874,  the 7th Duke’s daughter in law was attending one of the many balls when in a rather hurried fashion she went into labour and produced the one and only Winston Churchill.

The palace remains the home of the Dukes of Marlborough, the present incumbent of the title being Charles James (Jamie) Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough. Charles James succeeded to the Dukedom upon his father‘s death on 16 October 2014.

Charles James, the current Duke, is a ex drug addict and convict. His father knew that because of inheritance law in the UK, he would not be able to write him out of his will. He felt his son would ruin the palace so created a Trust for the palace of which his son is no t evenon the board.

So that is a brief synopsis of the current Marlborough clan.

Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It was here they had a banquet for Donald Trump back in 2018 which when speaking to a couple of guides, it was hard for them to hide their distain for the event. Probably should say their disdain was towards Trump and not the office of President of the USA.

We spent a lot of time at the palace and also went over to the walled garden section where there was the butterfly house.

It is not until you see butterflies that you realise how absent they are now.

Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife Clementine in the garden of Blenheim Palace and was a frequent visitor there during his life as it was the seat of the family.

The other interesting piece of news to us is that he is buried in the village of Bladon which is just outside the grounds of the palace.

Rather than go straight back to Thrupp we went Bladon village to St Martin’s Church where we viewed his grave.

All in all a very good day though long and a lot of walking. In our favour was that it was overcast and cooler temperatures than it has been. The rest of the evening was spent in bliss with our feet up!!!


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