Tuesday, July 16, 2013

English Countryside Escape

Last Friday morning, I woke up and decided I wanted to go to Blenheim Palace.  Now, normally, I would spend hours planning out my route, researching all the different train lines I could take, exploring all the train timetables, and figuring out all the options to get from the final train station to the palace.  But this time, I decided to just go to Paddington Train station and figure it out from there.  I ended up taking a First Great Western train to Oxford, and then taking a coach bus from Oxford Train Station to the Palace.  Along the way, I met loads of helpful people and bonded with an older Bulgarian couple who were on the same adventure as I was!

Spending the day at Blenheim Palace was just what I needed.  While London is energizing, the English countryside is restorative.  I came to London, in large parts, to get back into writing and to recommit to serious reading.  But to be frank, I haven't done a terrible amount of either since I've been here.  

As I walked around the palace grounds, the countryside wind brushed the hair off my face and washed across the lake.  Past the lake, there were pastures bedabbled with sheep, and the past the sheep was the untold stretch of crisp blue sky.  I walked deeper and deeper into the gardens, and I became more and more immersed in my surroundings and words came pouring into my mind.  I hurriedly found a place to sit, pulled out my trusty Clairefontaine notebook and began scribbling out words as quickly as they came.
Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, and is the private home to the dukes of Marlborough.  Queen Anne gave the land and a sum of money to build the house to the 1st Duke of Marlborough as thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim.  It is the only dukedom, by Act of Parliament, that can pass through a daughter.  Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales, are notable members of this family.
The picture on the left shows the incredible work of André Charles Boulle, who did not invent, but perfected, the marquetry technique.  In addition to this cabinet, Blenheim Palace is filled with French furniture and decoration.  In fact, the Chippendale chairs shown in the picture on the right are some of the only English furniture in the house.  
Every year before August 13, the Duke of Marlborough has to pay rent to the Queen.  The Duke's rent consists of the above standard with three fleurs-de-lis.  Thus, each year the Duke has a new standard created and sent to Windsor Castle to pay rent.
Depictions of Consuelo Vanderbilt, the wife of the 9th Duke of Marlborough, are all over the house -- displaying her integral role in the home's history.  She was a rather affluent Vanderbilt heiress, whose wealth, quite literally, saved the home.  The estate was bankrupt and in bad repair before the marriage, and her resources renovated and replenished the home as we know it today.
This is Winston Churchill's stamp collection.  I loved this because my dad was a rabid stamp collector as well!


  1. I love the photo of the fountain. And the grounds look beautiful... and enormous!

    1. Thank you! The formal gardens were something to behold.


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