What do Winston Churchill and Woodstock have in common?
This morning we have to leave Walton Hall; it has been such a nice place to stay. That also signals the last stop on our journey is at hand…sigh. But before we go into Oxford we take an all day detour at Blenheim Palace. We had thought we would be done earlier in the day but the palace had so much to offer that we nearly closed it down talmost to closing. I would have loved to have spent time in the town, Woodstock, as well as it had a lot of charm but we had to focus.
You immediately get a wonderful view of the palace upon entering the gate and as we have so often on this trip we voice a collective “Oh wow!” The grounds are now a park area that had once been the hunting grounds of King Henry VIII, too bad the Duchess had his hunting lodge torn down because it spoiled her view. This whole estate was a gift from the Queen to the Duke of Marlburgh as a reward and thank you for winning the battle of Blenheim. He is still revered as one of the nation’s most important military heroes as he quite possibly saved the British from being French.
There wasn’t an existing palace when the Queen made her gift to him so she provided funds to build it which took over 30 years and major cost overruns; some things never change do they? It has magnificent in architecture, décor, and sheer grandeur. It would be very hard to not be completely impressed when even the most rich and famous visited Blenheim for the first time. Centuries later we are still completely impressed.
It is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill which was merely a happenstance. He is actually a cousin to the family and his parents had been visiting when his mother went into labor. They didn’t even move her to a bedroom but he was born in a cloakroom; must have been like those stories you hear of children being born in a taxi or elevator.
He was also visiting Blenheim when he proposed to his wife, Clementine. He almost missed his chance with her as he had arranged to talk with her in the morning then he overslept. She was miffed at his tardiness and had decided to leave Blenheim. His cousin, aware of Winston's plans, urged her to go for a buggy ride around the grounds and had his servant get Winston up and ready; all's well that ends well as they had a devoted and happy marriage after all.
Did you know that Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer were related? Yup, they are through the Spencer side as the Churchill line had actually died out but by special decree of the crown the Churchill surname was reinstated to the Spencers. His name is actually Spencer-Churchill.
Besides palace and Churchill Blenheim has an amazing water garden, one of those hedge mazes – which we navigated, a butterfly house, a rose garden, two lakes, a small train, and miles of trails. We explored until our feet hurt and our tummies rumbled. We enjoyed a cooling snack under a shade tree then headed off to Oxford.
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