Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a vast 18th century palace that has been the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough for 300 years. Visitors are invited to explore its stunning interiors and exhibitions detailing the history of some of its most eminent inhabitants.

Blenheim Palace history

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 French and Bavarian forces at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, after which the palace was named. He was allowed funding from the Crown to build his new home, and in place of a monetary rental payment it was instead capitulated that every year on the battle’s anniversary, a copy of the French royal flag be delivered to the monarch.

Marlborough’s wife Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough was one of Queen Anne‘s favourites and Mistress of the Robes, holding much influence over her both personally and politically. When in 1711 the pair had a furious dispute, funding for the construction of Blenheim ceased, and the Marlboroughs were required to finish the project from their own funds.

Following its completion, Blenheim Palace became the home of the Churchill family for the next 300 years – not without financial difficulty however. For many years at risk of falling into disrepair, Blenheim was saved in the 19th century by the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to Vanderbilt heiress Consuelo, who brought with her a vast marriage settlement. Though the marriage was an unhappy one and the couple eventually divorced, Blenheim was restored to the prestige it once enjoyed.

On 30 November 1874, it also became the birthplace of Winston Churchill, one of Britain’s most famous leaders and descendant of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Blenheim Palace today

Today Blenheim Palace remains the home of the Churchills, with the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough currently residing there. Whether you choose to wander Blenheim Palace independently or as part of a guided tour, you can enjoy endless artistic masterpieces such as the Blenheim Tapestry depicting Lord Marlborough accepting the surrender of the French, and the stunning ceiling paintings of Louis Laguerre. The 18th century house itself is also an architectural marvel with its Baroque design by John Vanburgh, the architect of the stunning Castle Howard.

Exhibitions include “The Untold Story” which explores the lives of the palace’s inhabitants, as well as the Churchill Exhibition, an insightful look at the wartime Prime Minister’s life. The grounds are also spectacular with over 2000 acres of parkland and gardens, a butterfly house, adventure playground, mazes and even a train!

Blenheim Palace has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom.

Getting to Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is situated in the village of Woodstock near Oxford, on the A44 road. Free parking is available at the site, however Blenheim encourages the use of green transport where possible. A number of bus services run to the gates of Blenheim, with a Park and Ride service also available on busy weekends. The nearest train station is Hanborough, around 3 miles away, while Oxford station is around 9 miles away.


Architectural History of Blenheim Palace

Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a university student.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AUEssays.com.

Blenheim Palace is the one of the huge building in England and it was designed by playwright Sir John Vanbrugh, assistants Nicholas Hawksmoor, and landscape architect Lancelot Brown (Capability Brown). An impressive example of 18 th English baroque style. It was located at a town in southwestern New York, Oxfordshire, England. Formerly it was called by “Woodstock Manor”, This building of the palace was originally intended to be a reward tothe first duke Marlborough, John Churchill. [1] It was built in 1705 when Queen Anne bestows to John Churchill, he was Winston Churchill forefather. This was to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704. By Blenheim Palace as the axis a huge palace building complex, it was the center of Woodstock. Beside this hidden a lot of precious oil painting and sculpture of magnificent palace, it also had a lake, pasture and a typical of English manor. Even though in later period had add in a lot of artificial features, but it is still a faction elegant English-style afternoon tea. Blenheim palace is an immortal country house, one of the England’s largest country house. it is the only non-royal, non-episcopal in England to hold the title of palace. [2] This is a territory of the Oxfordshire quiet, green village. Futhermore, Winston Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace, the former Prime Minister of the England. In 1988, Blenheim Palace was list as cultural heritage of the world. In early the 20 th , the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, was rebuilt the east and west sides in the shape neat gardens. This pattern of garden, had become a lawn. Regarding to the famous architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the 9 th Duke of Marlborough, he was praised to him.

Figure 1: Front view of Blenheim Palace

The origin name of Blenheim Palace was come from a decisive war at the north shore of the Danube and it was happened in 13th August 1704. In a north shore of the Danube, nearby had a small village called Blenheim. It was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. It was Marlborough who personally received the surrender from Marshall Tallard, leader of the French forces, following the battle.[3] Charity generous queen Anne giving the “Woodstock” royal honor and the construction of “Blenheim Palace” as a gift. The construction of this building start from 1705 to 1722 by Mr. Wenbuhler.The title of “ Woodstock” of the royal honor and building given by her majesty the queen Anne and confirmed by parliament. [4] In 1712, the construction of Blenheim Palace forced to stop all work. Since when Duke Marlborough continue across work for the queen, hostile forces are trying to think of ways to destroyed the queen for his love. Finally, the funds approval to build Blenheim Palace did not get, so that they owned the masonry, sculptor and other things include the architect.

Blenheim Palace, the main building consists of two wings on the main building and courtyards. The exterior mixed with Collins-style colonnades and tower with Baroque style. High uplift of the triangular wall, forming patchwork of facade line. Entering the hall, it is surrounded salon, reception room, library, living room, all surrounded by a small courtyard, connected by corridors and hall. Furnishings with families portrait paintings, tapestries and a variety of decorative ornaments, each one from the hands of masters. To mimic the natural landscape sculpture gardens seldom do the decoration, while Blenheim Palace is a French Baroque garden. Sculptures are visible everywhere.

The Grand Bridge

Blenheim palace is an English baroque architecture. In 1709, the manor was destructed by the Duchess of Marlborough’s command, the foundation of Vanbrugh’s Grand Bridge used a lot of rubber to fill up. When John Churchill and Vanbrugh walking though inquired into Woodstock Park, they saw a valley of marsh, this gave Sir Vangbrugh some inspiration, he created and designed the fitnest bridgein Europe. Since in 1711, Marburg was the Queen of favor and banished several years. Sarah Churchill, the first duchess, she finished the Blenheim with Vanbrugh by their own expense, even though they faced a lot of budjet problem and enter the prohibited place.

Figure 2: The Grand Bridge of Blenheim Palace

From the figure 2 above, can see the sea is surrounding the grand bridge. After the first duke died, his wife called in Colonel John Armstrong, he was a chief engineer, to re-designed the water-works in the park.

The Great Hall

The most amazing thing is the grand lobby, especially theGibbons hall. The hall is 67’ ft high, due to James Thornhill who is an english painter of historical subject, in 1716 he painted the ceilings of blenheim palace, according the order of war and to expand in blenheim palace, and to show the Madero victory. Futhermore, there had stone carving by Grinling Gibbons. However, the 9th Duke’s bronze bust was made by Sir Jacob Epstein. Sarah Churchill was famous on bargain prices, she always argue with the workers that she hire. In a similar situation, she was argue with Grinling Gibbons, the master carver, he haven’t complete the work on house, but after that he never returned to complete and continue his work.

Figure 3: Great Hall of Blenheim Palace

The Saloon, can only use once a year in Christmas dinner for the family of Duke Marlborough. In this elegant and classic room painted murals and paintings of French artist Louis Laguerre.

Figure 4: Saloon ceiling of Blenheim

Sarah Churchill were instructed to the first duke, John Churchill report the victory to Queen Anne. John Churchill used solid silver centerpiece writing the dispatch on horseback to his wife in this room. The centerpiece was made byGarrard, the Crown Jewellers. [5]

The Green Writing Room

In addition to Blenheim’s wall, there were thick tapestries made of expensive fabrics hang from the wall, describing the surrender from French on the battle been accepted by Marlborough in the green writing room. A carefully planned bureau in the room, the style of decorated was a modern inlay style, and this was made from the Queen’s nephew.

The Long Library

The long library, is one of the private house in Britain, the long library it was originally designed for the gallery, designed by Vanbrugh and Nicholes Hawksmoor. The library can contain around 10,000 books, the largely collection was from 9 th Duke. Inside the wall, at the northern end, hang in a systemic statue of Queen Anne, King William III and the first duke, John Churchill. Maybe the most compelling place in the room is the magnificent Willis government agencies. In 1891, there was an organ belongs to Henry Willis and he designed it. This is the most ou tstanding room from Hawksmoor’s designed. The ordinary stucco ceilings designed, included two false domes, was completed in 1725.

Figure 5: The Long Library

Due to the figure 3 above, there have a blank ceiling. At first, Sir James Thornhill was entrusted to filled up allegorical scenes. But it was too expensive, so they remained blank. The interesting things is, in 18 th century, the blank and plane ceiling giving simple appearance to show atypical of the neoclassical or Georgian style of the Robert Adam. For many years, this long library had a number variety of uses. During World War I it was a hospital ward and during World War II it served as a dormitory for Malvern College boys. [6]

3.2 The Water Terraces

Due to the water terraces of Blenheim palace, Winston Churchill was be responsible for the creation of a huge lake, the artificial fluctuations and a series of water cascades. He wrote that Blenheim’s unique attraction lie in its perfect adaptation of English parkland to an Italian palace. The “Italian palace” it seems to be part of the reference about the unique garden, the western water terraces, designed bythe French landscape architectAchille Duchêne.

Figure 6: The upper water terrace in Blenheim Palace

During the 9 th Duke of Marlborough, water terraces was built. It was built form 1925 to 1930, took around five years. The lower Water Terrace, separated from the upper Water Terrace by a wall of caryatids and tiered shells has been compared to the Parterre d’Eau at Versailles.

Viper is a quick and easy way to check your work for plagiarism. The online scanning system matches your work against over 5 Billion online sources within seconds.

Reportedly, the Water Terraces were inspired by the sculptor Bernini. The sphinx is one of pair with heads modeled on the features of the 9th Duke’s second American wife Gladys Deacon. It was created by Ward Willis in 1930. Another piece of sculpture on the lower Water Terrace was modeled on local man and gardener by Bert Timms of Hanborough. Due to the story, he got inspired when walking through the garden and noticed who was carving Visseau at the time, As a result, he made the model of the head and torso of the leftmost caryatid on the wall that separates the two Water Terraces at Blenheim When walk in through, there had an archway describe about British lion forced down to a cockerel (the emblem of France). Altogether, on the exterior there were almost 15 references to mention British Victories against the French.

4.0 Architectural History

In 13 August 1704, John Churchill achieved victory the Battle of Blenheim, who led the Allied forces. He was defeated in Bavaria with army of Louis XIV, in order to award his feats, he was awarded be the first Duke of Marlborough the king and giving him the construction of Blenheim as a gift. Blenheim Place is a masterpiece completed with a famous architect John Vanbrugh between 1705 until 1722. The building style of this was intended to reflect the establishment of the Duke of Marlborough’s outstanding contributions. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim, he is the eighth generation the first Duke of Marlborough’s grandson. He inherited on the fine tradition of the family, exert excellence military talent, go through brilliant political career. Winston Churchill wrote a biography about his family. Long ago, he was an officer, but later he served as British Prime Minister because of he successfully defended Britain in World War II. First, the first Duke took a fancy to a wide valley, later it formed to a piece of marsh. Sir John Vanbrugh design and build a grand large bridge. Bridge arches of main bridge total width 31 meters. It started the construction in 1708, but because of the cost was too high, and did not complete the constructed. Sarah Churchill, the first duchess, disagree to build an arched bridge under the valley. So, just built an ordinary bridge to connected between Blenheim and the ranch. In 1764, the family of duke the important task of construction to Blenheim Palace handed over to landscape architect, Capability Brown. He think that landscape design should blend with the natural landscape, not to leave traces of artificial modification. He repaired dams in the valley, form to a large territorial waters. Therefore, under the bridge become two edges of crooked lake. The first duke, John Churchill death on 1725, after the five years he death, the construction of Blenheim Palace just fully completed. The duke memorial was a landmark to Blenheim Palace, under the memorial hall rooftop have a small tower and belfry. Supporting the Duke memorial hall there have 4 pillars, have the sing of Marlborough moral merit. The main part of this construction was using the columns to connect, and to replace the wall. Top of the memorial hall. There have a sculpture of British lion forced down to a cockerel, which means that the strength of victory. In early the 20 th , the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, was rebuilt the east and west sides in the shape neat gardens. This pattern of garden, had become a lawn. The 9 th duke of Marlborough hire the famous French landscape designer, Achille Duchêne to create a water garden. Duke hopes to restore the original appearance of the lake, but he just here to build a strange pond. Regarding to the famous architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the 9 th Duke of Marlborough, he was praised to him. Bernini used the Roman of St. Pierre Cathedral transformed into the famous Palazzo Barberini, it was very famous and well-known in Europe. At that time, they called it Bernini was a “Knight”, Louis XIV also asked him to remodelled the Louvre. In order to satisfy the wish of the Duke, Achille Duchêne have to follow according to Bernini’s approach to the design of Blenheim Palace Gardens. He imitated Bernini to build a new plaza, in this pond middle of Alpheus built a small fountain. In England, natural landscape gardens seldom to do the decoration, yet Blenheim Palace was a French Baroque garden, sculptor can easy to be seen at here. The layout of garden neat and orderly, wherein plants and ornaments panoramic view passage. Statue in every corner is a sign of military bravery and honor of military. Because this is to commemorated the residence of the British army and built it.

Bibliography

Blenheim Palace is the one of the huge building in England and it was designed by playwright Sir John Vanbrugh, assistants Nicholas Hawksmoor, and landscape architect Lancelot Brown (Capability Brown). An impressive example of 18 th English baroque style. It was located at a town in southwestern New York, Oxfordshire, England. Formerly it was called by “Woodstock Manor”, This building of the palace was originally intended to be a reward tothe first duke Marlborough, John Churchill. [1] It was built in 1705 when Queen Anne bestows to John Churchill, he was Winston Churchill forefather. This was to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704. By Blenheim Palace as the axis a huge palace building complex, it was the center of Woodstock. Beside this hidden a lot of precious oil painting and sculpture of magnificent palace, it also had a lake, pasture and a typical of English manor. Even though in later period had add in a lot of artificial features, but it is still a faction elegant English-style afternoon tea. Blenheim palace is an immortal country house, one of the England’s largest country house. it is the only non-royal, non-episcopal in England to hold the title of palace. [2] This is a territory of the Oxfordshire quiet, green village. Futhermore, Winston Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace, the former Prime Minister of the England. In 1988, Blenheim Palace was list as cultural heritage of the world. In early the 20 th , the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, was rebuilt the east and west sides in the shape neat gardens. This pattern of garden, had become a lawn. Regarding to the famous architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the 9 th Duke of Marlborough, he was praised to him.

Figure 1: Front view of Blenheim Palace

The origin name of Blenheim Palace was come from a decisive war at the north shore of the Danube and it was happened in 13th August 1704. In a north shore of the Danube, nearby had a small village called Blenheim. It was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. It was Marlborough who personally received the surrender from Marshall Tallard, leader of the French forces, following the battle.[3] Charity generous queen Anne giving the “Woodstock” royal honor and the construction of “Blenheim Palace” as a gift. The construction of this building start from 1705 to 1722 by Mr. Wenbuhler.The title of “ Woodstock” of the royal honor and building given by her majesty the queen Anne and confirmed by parliament. [4] In 1712, the construction of Blenheim Palace forced to stop all work. Since when Duke Marlborough continue across work for the queen, hostile forces are trying to think of ways to destroyed the queen for his love. Finally, the funds approval to build Blenheim Palace did not get, so that they owned the masonry, sculptor and other things include the architect.

Blenheim Palace, the main building consists of two wings on the main building and courtyards. The exterior mixed with Collins-style colonnades and tower with Baroque style. High uplift of the triangular wall, forming patchwork of facade line. Entering the hall, it is surrounded salon, reception room, library, living room, all surrounded by a small courtyard, connected by corridors and hall. Furnishings with families portrait paintings, tapestries and a variety of decorative ornaments, each one from the hands of masters. To mimic the natural landscape sculpture gardens seldom do the decoration, while Blenheim Palace is a French Baroque garden. Sculptures are visible everywhere.

The Grand Bridge

Blenheim palace is an English baroque architecture. In 1709, the manor was destructed by the Duchess of Marlborough’s command, the foundation of Vanbrugh’s Grand Bridge used a lot of rubber to fill up. When John Churchill and Vanbrugh walking though inquired into Woodstock Park, they saw a valley of marsh, this gave Sir Vangbrugh some inspiration, he created and designed the fitnest bridgein Europe. Since in 1711, Marburg was the Queen of favor and banished several years. Sarah Churchill, the first duchess, she finished the Blenheim with Vanbrugh by their own expense, even though they faced a lot of budjet problem and enter the prohibited place.

Figure 2: The Grand Bridge of Blenheim Palace

From the figure 2 above, can see the sea is surrounding the grand bridge. After the first duke died, his wife called in Colonel John Armstrong, he was a chief engineer, to re-designed the water-works in the park.

The Great Hall

The most amazing thing is the grand lobby, especially theGibbons hall. The hall is 67’ ft high, due to James Thornhill who is an english painter of historical subject, in 1716 he painted the ceilings of blenheim palace, according the order of war and to expand in blenheim palace, and to show the Madero victory. Futhermore, there had stone carving by Grinling Gibbons. However, the 9th Duke’s bronze bust was made by Sir Jacob Epstein. Sarah Churchill was famous on bargain prices, she always argue with the workers that she hire. In a similar situation, she was argue with Grinling Gibbons, the master carver, he haven’t complete the work on house, but after that he never returned to complete and continue his work.

Figure 3: Great Hall of Blenheim Palace

The Saloon, can only use once a year in Christmas dinner for the family of Duke Marlborough. In this elegant and classic room painted murals and paintings of French artist Louis Laguerre.

Figure 4: Saloon ceiling of Blenheim

Sarah Churchill were instructed to the first duke, John Churchill report the victory to Queen Anne. John Churchill used solid silver centerpiece writing the dispatch on horseback to his wife in this room. The centerpiece was made byGarrard, the Crown Jewellers. [5]

The Green Writing Room

In addition to Blenheim’s wall, there were thick tapestries made of expensive fabrics hang from the wall, describing the surrender from French on the battle been accepted by Marlborough in the green writing room. A carefully planned bureau in the room, the style of decorated was a modern inlay style, and this was made from the Queen’s nephew.

The Long Library

The long library, is one of the private house in Britain, the long library it was originally designed for the gallery, designed by Vanbrugh and Nicholes Hawksmoor. The library can contain around 10,000 books, the largely collection was from 9 th Duke. Inside the wall, at the northern end, hang in a systemic statue of Queen Anne, King William III and the first duke, John Churchill. Maybe the most compelling place in the room is the magnificent Willis government agencies. In 1891, there was an organ belongs to Henry Willis and he designed it. This is the most ou tstanding room from Hawksmoor’s designed. The ordinary stucco ceilings designed, included two false domes, was completed in 1725.

Figure 5: The Long Library

Due to the figure 3 above, there have a blank ceiling. At first, Sir James Thornhill was entrusted to filled up allegorical scenes. But it was too expensive, so they remained blank. The interesting things is, in 18 th century, the blank and plane ceiling giving simple appearance to show atypical of the neoclassical or Georgian style of the Robert Adam. For many years, this long library had a number variety of uses. During World War I it was a hospital ward and during World War II it served as a dormitory for Malvern College boys. [6]

3.2 The Water Terraces

Due to the water terraces of Blenheim palace, Winston Churchill was be responsible for the creation of a huge lake, the artificial fluctuations and a series of water cascades. He wrote that Blenheim’s unique attraction lie in its perfect adaptation of English parkland to an Italian palace. The “Italian palace” it seems to be part of the reference about the unique garden, the western water terraces, designed bythe French landscape architectAchille Duchêne.

Figure 6: The upper water terrace in Blenheim Palace

During the 9 th Duke of Marlborough, water terraces was built. It was built form 1925 to 1930, took around five years. The lower Water Terrace, separated from the upper Water Terrace by a wall of caryatids and tiered shells has been compared to the Parterre d’Eau at Versailles.

Reportedly, the Water Terraces were inspired by the sculptor Bernini. The sphinx is one of pair with heads modeled on the features of the 9th Duke’s second American wife Gladys Deacon. It was created by Ward Willis in 1930. Another piece of sculpture on the lower Water Terrace was modeled on local man and gardener by Bert Timms of Hanborough. Due to the story, he got inspired when walking through the garden and noticed who was carving Visseau at the time, As a result, he made the model of the head and torso of the leftmost caryatid on the wall that separates the two Water Terraces at Blenheim When walk in through, there had an archway describe about British lion forced down to a cockerel (the emblem of France). Altogether, on the exterior there were almost 15 references to mention British Victories against the French.

4.0 Architectural History

In 13 August 1704, John Churchill achieved victory the Battle of Blenheim, who led the Allied forces. He was defeated in Bavaria with army of Louis XIV, in order to award his feats, he was awarded be the first Duke of Marlborough the king and giving him the construction of Blenheim as a gift. Blenheim Place is a masterpiece completed with a famous architect John Vanbrugh between 1705 until 1722. The building style of this was intended to reflect the establishment of the Duke of Marlborough’s outstanding contributions. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim, he is the eighth generation the first Duke of Marlborough’s grandson. He inherited on the fine tradition of the family, exert excellence military talent, go through brilliant political career. Winston Churchill wrote a biography about his family. Long ago, he was an officer, but later he served as British Prime Minister because of he successfully defended Britain in World War II. First, the first Duke took a fancy to a wide valley, later it formed to a piece of marsh. Sir John Vanbrugh design and build a grand large bridge. Bridge arches of main bridge total width 31 meters. It started the construction in 1708, but because of the cost was too high, and did not complete the constructed. Sarah Churchill, the first duchess, disagree to build an arched bridge under the valley. So, just built an ordinary bridge to connected between Blenheim and the ranch. In 1764, the family of duke the important task of construction to Blenheim Palace handed over to landscape architect, Capability Brown. He think that landscape design should blend with the natural landscape, not to leave traces of artificial modification. He repaired dams in the valley, form to a large territorial waters. Therefore, under the bridge become two edges of crooked lake. The first duke, John Churchill death on 1725, after the five years he death, the construction of Blenheim Palace just fully completed. The duke memorial was a landmark to Blenheim Palace, under the memorial hall rooftop have a small tower and belfry. Supporting the Duke memorial hall there have 4 pillars, have the sing of Marlborough moral merit. The main part of this construction was using the columns to connect, and to replace the wall. Top of the memorial hall. There have a sculpture of British lion forced down to a cockerel, which means that the strength of victory. In early the 20 th , the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, was rebuilt the east and west sides in the shape neat gardens. This pattern of garden, had become a lawn. The 9 th duke of Marlborough hire the famous French landscape designer, Achille Duchêne to create a water garden. Duke hopes to restore the original appearance of the lake, but he just here to build a strange pond. Regarding to the famous architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the 9 th Duke of Marlborough, he was praised to him. Bernini used the Roman of St. Pierre Cathedral transformed into the famous Palazzo Barberini, it was very famous and well-known in Europe. At that time, they called it Bernini was a “Knight”, Louis XIV also asked him to remodelled the Louvre. In order to satisfy the wish of the Duke, Achille Duchêne have to follow according to Bernini’s approach to the design of Blenheim Palace Gardens. He imitated Bernini to build a new plaza, in this pond middle of Alpheus built a small fountain. In England, natural landscape gardens seldom to do the decoration, yet Blenheim Palace was a French Baroque garden, sculptor can easy to be seen at here. The layout of garden neat and orderly, wherein plants and ornaments panoramic view passage. Statue in every corner is a sign of military bravery and honor of military. Because this is to commemorated the residence of the British army and built it.

Bibliography

  1. The front view of Blenheim Palace, available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blenheim_Palace, accessed on 29 April 2015, 8p.m
  2. The Grand Bridge of Blenheim Palace, available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blenheim_Palace, accessed on 02 May 2015, 02:14am.
  3. The Great Hall of Blenheim Palace, available on http://www.discoverbritainmag.com/britain/blenheim_palace_steeped_in_history_1_3770278, accessed on 2 May 2015, 01:50 a.m.
  1. Saloon ceiling of Blenheim, available on http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_282079/Sir-James-Thornhill/Proposed-design-for-the-saloon-ceiling-at-Blenheim-Palace,-Oxfordshire-The-Apotheosis-of-Hercules, accesed on 1 May 2015 2:30pm.
  1. The Long Library available on, http://prato12.blog.sbc.edu/2011/08/11/blenheim-palace/, accessed on 1 May 2015, 4:00pm.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:


1st Duke of Marlborough: 14 Dec 1702 – 16 Jun 1722

John Churchill (b. 26 May 1650 – d. 16 Jun 1722) married Sarah Jennings (b. 5 Jun 1660 – d. 18 Oct 1744), daughter of Richard Jennings, MP for St Albans. They had seven children:

  1. Harriet (b. Oct 1679 – d. Oct 1679)
  2. Henrietta (b. 19 Jul 1681 – d. 24 Oct 1733) m. Francis Godolphin, 2 nd Earl of Godolphin, son of Sidney Godolphin, 1 st Earl of Godolphin
  3. Anne (b. 27 Feb 1684 – d. 15 Apr 1716) m. Charles Spencer, 3 rd Earl of Sunderland, son of Charles Spencer, 2 nd Earl of Sunderland
  4. John, Marquess of Blandford (b. 12 Jan 1686 – d. 20 Feb 1703)
  5. Elizabeth (b. 15 Mar 1687 – d. 22 Mar 1714) m. Scroop Egerton, 1 st Duke of Bridgewater, son of John Egerton, 3 rd Earl of Bridgewater
  6. Mary (b. 15 Jul 1689 – d. 14 May 1751) m. John Montagu, 2 nd Duke of Montagu, son of Ralph Montagu, 1 st Duke of Montagu
  7. Charles (b. 19 Aug 1690 – d. 22 May 1692)


History of Winston Churchill and Blenheim Palace

You probably know Sir Winston Churchill as one of the most extraordinary Prime Ministers in British history. His political career spanned over six centuries. And as you probably know, he was chosen to be the Prime Minster that helped lead the allies to Victory in WWII.

But did you know Churchill was born and raised in England’s only non-royal abode to hold the title of palace? This now UNESCO-protected mansion is one of the largest and most stunning in the nation. And its history is just as fascinating as Churchill’s story. About Winston Churchill and Blenheim Palace

Winston Churchill: The man of many talents

Sir Winston Churchill may have been born into privilege, but he dedicated his entire life to public service. As well as being the 20 th -centuries greatest statesman and a celebrated war hero, Churchill was an advocate for radical, progressive social reforms and a huge defender of freedom and democracy.

As far as accomplishments go, Churchill’s countless honours and awards speak for themselves. He earned himself a British War Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Africa Star, France and Germany Star, Order of Liberation and Crosses of Military Merit to name a few. He even won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. Quite a legacy.

Churchill comes from a long line of aristocratic politicians. Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, was a well-known figure in Conservative politics in late 19 th -century Britain. He was also a descendent of the First Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, who designed the home where Winston would spend his early life.

Blenheim Palace: The famous birthplace of Churchill

Winston Churchill was born in the extravagant Blenheim Palace over 150 years after the First Duke of Marlborough had it designed and constructed (1705 – 1722). To say it’s large would be an understatement, but it’s not its size that makes it so awe-inspiring. It was built in the short-lived English Baroque style, making it one of the most distinctive palaces in the UK.

It was constructed as a gift to John Marlborough for his military achievements, particularly his victory at the Battle of Blenheim against the French and the Bavarians. Queen Anne part-funded the grand project initially, but political infighting due to the cost of construction drew royal funding to an end. Nevertheless, the palace was completed, and it’s just as stunning today as ever.


A brief history of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace in the Cotswolds, which hosted President Trump's controversial meeting with the Prime Minister this week, is one of the most spectacular country houses in the UK, with Capability Brown gardens to boot, and makes the perfect day trip from London. We take a look at its distinguished history.

T he magnificent country houses and castles of the UK are usually a priority for any sightseer, with their towering architecture, opulent interiors, and stately gardens. Of all the grand estates to see, however, Blenheim Palace must be one of the grandest, and it certainly received plenty of attention this week thanks to one foreign visitor in particular. Whatever your views on President Trump, though, there's no reason not to enjoy a brief history of this most distinguished of English houses.

Advertisement

When John Churchill became the 1st Duke of Marlborough in 1702 for his victory against Louis XIV of France in the Battle of Blenheim, he was given land at Woodstock, near Oxford, to construct a house suitable for his new position. Although his wife favoured Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the Duke settled on the flamboyant Sir John Vanbrugh and his partner Nicholas Hawksmoor, who were already hard at work on Castle Howard in Yorkshire. The pair brought their extravagant Baroque style to the new house, which was designed as a monument to the Duke's victory over France and the establishment of his new position. The gardens were later taken over by Capability Brown, who brought his country landscape sensibility to the extensive grounds, which also include formal Italian gardens and acres of woodland.

The succeeding dukes had trouble sustaining this considerable legacy, and by the nineteenth century their debts meant that many treasures from Blenheim - among them works by Raphel and Rubens - had to be sold. In the middle of all of this trouble, meanwhile, the future Prime Minister of the UK, Winston Churchill (grandson of the 7th Duke) was born at the palace in 1874. It was only some time later that the marriage of the 9th Duke to the fabulously wealthy American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895 saved the estate, although the marriage was not a happy one.

Advertisement

Blenheim Palace is now open to the public, hosting concerts, festivals, weddings, and even the odd American president in its historic house and grounds. We can only imagine what it's like to attend a dinner in the glorious State Dining Room (above), but for the more casual visitor, it's only an hour or so outside London, and it's the perfect day trip into the Cotswolds.


‘A Giant Among Buildings’ – Blenheim Palace

I would go as far to say it would be criminal to visit Oxford without making a trip to nearby Blenheim Palace to learn about it’s history.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Blenheim Palace is home to the Dukes of Marlborough. It is also the only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It is unique in its combined use as a family home, mausoleum and national monument to Britain’s greatness.

It is also the result of an close but ultimately unhealthy relationship between two powerful women.

Fancy learning more about the history of Blenheim Palace and how it came to be? Then read on!

Blenheim Palace’s history began when the manor of Woodstock was gifted to the first Duke of Marlborough by Queen Anne as thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.

John Churchill from Axminster, Devon, the first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), is the only Briton ever to have risen from a commoner to a Duke in one generation. This was partly due to his skill as a military leader, and partly due to his wife Sarah’s VERY close relationship with Queen Anne (which is the subject of the new film The Favourite starring Olivia Colman – I just can’t wait to see it!)

Sarah wasn’t just Queen Anne’s close confidante, but her adviser in government and political matters. She the most powerful women in the country after Anne. As a result of Sarah’s unique status with the queen, John rose to become the richest man in Britain and one of the greatest military generals in European history.

Another famous war leader from Blenheim Palace was the great Winston Churchill, who was voted the Greatest Briton of All Time in a BBC poll in 2002.

He famously said ‘At Blenheim I took too very important decisions: to be born and to marry’. On the 30th November 1874 Winston Churchill was born at the Palace, the home of his grandfather the 7th Duke. Its also where he proposed to his future wife, Clementine Hozier.

Building at Blenheim began in 1705. The bills were paid by the Treasury , with a massive budget of £240,000 earmarked for the build. It was designed by John Vanbrugh, who was actually a dramatist and not Sarah’s preferred choice of architect.

However building ceased in 1710 when the friendship of Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill collapsed. The grant was almost spent but work was anything but finished.

When Queen Anne died and George I came to the throne some of the outstanding debts were met by the Crown, but it became clear Marlborough had to finish the building at his own expense.

As you can imagine, now he had to foot the bill John became MUCH more interested in the rates the craftsmen were charging. Master craftsmen, such as the famous woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, refused to return. The situation was compounded in 1719 when Vanburgh and the Duchess had a major falling out. Sarah banned him from the site, and his second-in-charge Nicholas Hawksmoor had to take over.

The architectural style is that of the rare and short-lived English Baroque (the trend only lasted for about 50 years). English Baroque is all about demonstrating power and wealth with lots of elaborate decoration and ornamentation.

Blenheim Palace is just room after room of pure unadulterated opulence. The ground floor has three drawing rooms and three state rooms alone! However, these are the rooms that really stood out for me when I visited

You enter Blenheim Palace through the main doors into the Great Hall. It may be called the Great Hall, but in reality there is no superlative to describe the sheer scale and grandeur of the room.

The room rises the full height of the building. Immediately it draws your eyes upward to the fabulous painted ceiling fresco. There are also columns, Corinthian capitals and Grinling Gibbons masterpieces galore.

The Long Library

Another room to make your jaw drop, the Long Library is thought to be the second longest room in any house in England.

As you enter, you are met with an imposing marble of statue of the Churchill’s bestie, Queen Anne. However, for me the best part of this room were the exhibits they had on display. They included the family’s coronation robes and a cap/coronet-style thingy that was worn by Queen Anne herself.

At the end of the library you find a magnificent ceiling-height organ. Apparently it is the largest pipe organ in a private home in Europe, and something of a celebrity in the organ world!

The Winston Churchill Exhibition

Now please don’t hate me, but I was very underwhelmed by the Winston Churchill exhibition.

I understand the exhibition has recently been moved within Blenheim to a new location, just off the Long Gallery. However the space was small and cramped to the point I felt claustrophobic. I also felt the exhibition was lacking in relevant items and was mostly made up of interpretation.

The highlight is without doubt the fact you get to visit the bedroom where Churchill was born. Ringlets of his curls even hang above the bed.

When you enter the chapel it Blenheim you almost feel disorientated. The design is very different to most chapels. The high altar is placed in defiance of religious convention against the west wall. This allows the Duke’s tomb and sarcophagus to take centre stage, almost overwhelming the whole building.

The monument is jaw-droppingly large and elaborate, and cost nearly £200,000 of today’s money to build.

Top Tips for Visiting Blenheim Palace

  • Allow enough time – Although you can probably tour the main Palace building and shops in only a few hours, the Palace also has extensive grounds with many interesting features. You could easily spend a whole day here. I’m gutted I didn’t have enough time to explore the outside.
  • Pick your day to visit carefully – I visited on a day when a Christmas market was being held. There was a lovely festive atmosphere to enjoy, but overall I do think my visitor experience suffered. A temporary ticket booth was set up for the event and I wasn’t given a good introduction to the property or even offered a guide book. If you are really interested in the history of Blenheim, ensure you visit on a day when they are no events.
  • Use the audio-guide – I’m not usually a big fan of audio-guides, but you could tell Blenheim Palace had invested in theirs. On entering you are given a mobile-phone like device to take round with you, and you can easily control the amount of information you listen to. The info given is also entertaining, and is supplementary to that contained in the guide book.
  • Convert your ticket to a free annual pass –Tickets are a bit on the pricey side, so it may pay to convert your ticket to a free annual pass if you know you are going to visit again. Doing this also means the cost of your entry is donated to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation Charity, so everyone’s a winner!

2019 ticket prices for adults start from £27, allowing for entry to the park, palace and gardens. Entry times vary according to season, and there can be partial closures due to events, so always check the website before visiting.

Blenheim Palace has long been on my historical bucket list, and I was so pleased I finally got to tick it off. Have you visited Blenheim Palace? If so, what did you think of it?


The palace grounds

If you’re in the mood for walking, the gardens and grounds designed by ‘Capability’ Brown during his 10-year tenure at Blenheim (from 1763-1773) are truly stunning. Walk around the lake shore, which is man-made by the way, and wander the ornate tree-filled gardens surrounding the palace.

It’s easy to get lost in the grounds (as we found), so make sure you have a map and your location services on your phone turned on!


Travel – Blenheim Palace

Since today is Winston Churchill’s birthday, I would like to share a travel report on Blenheim Palace where he was born and the ancestral home of the Churchill family. My son and I visited this grand country house located in the beautiful English countryside near the village of Woodstock in 1998 while we were visiting relatives in nearby Oxford. Blenheim Palace has the distinction of being the only non-royal house in England to hold the title of palace and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Brief History of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace was originally a gift from Queen Anne to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, for his military victory in 1704 against the French at the Battle of Blenheim. When the Duke returned to England after the battle he had become a national hero. The Duke was given a site to build his new palace near the village of Woodstock and Parliament voted to a substantial amount of money from its construction. Previously the site was had a house called the Manor of Woodstock and the estate was owned by the British Crown. King Henry I used it as a deer park and King Henry II had kept his mistress there. Before her succession, Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned there by her half-sister Queen Mary I. Later, Cromwell’s troop bombarded the estate and the ruins remained until 1705 when the land was cleared in preparation for the building of Blenheim Palace.

During the construction of Blenheim Palace (1705-1722) the process was delayed several times due to personal and political problems between the Crown and the Marlboroughs. One of the problems was the Duchess, the former Sarah Jennings. Years before, she had become a friend to the young Princess Anne who later became the Queen. Upon becoming Queen, the Duchess was made the Mistress of the Robes, one of the highest honors for a lady. Later the relationship between the Queen and the Duchess became very strained with constant disagreements and finally by 1711 the Queen cut off all funding for the construction of Blenheim. By this time, the Duke had also fallen out of favor with the Queen over political issues. The Marlboroughs were banished from the Queen’s Court and forced into exile, they did not return to England until after Queen Anne died in 1714.

The Duchess had wanted the famed architect Sir Christopher Wren to design and build Blenheim Palace but the Duke choose to commission Sir John Vanbrugh. There were constant arguments between the Queen, Parliament and the Duke over the funding for the construction. When the contract was drawn, despite the wish of the Queen to honor the Duke for his service to the Crown, there was no mention as to who was responsible for payment to the architect and building costs. Delays over conflicts in style and design persisted between the Duchess and Vanbrugh. Then, accusations of extravagance made by Parliament caused budget restrictions and later when the Duke and Duchess fell out of favor with the Queen construction stopped during the time the Marlboroughs were living out of the country. Upon their return, construction resumed at the expense of the Duke but further disagreements caused the replacement of Vanbrugh with his partner, Nicholas Hawksmoor. In the end it had taken almost seventeen years to complete the construction of Blenheim Palace.

During almost 300 years of history, Blenheim Palace has been an ancestral home, mausoleum and monument to the Churchill family. Over the years, various members have made minor changes to the interior of the house as well as the gardens and parklands surrounding the estate. At the end of the 19th century when the wealth of the family had been depleted due to social and economic changes in England, the estate was saved from ruin when the 9th Earl of Marlborough married the wealthy American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Blenheim Palace is most notably the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of England.

A Tour of Blenheim Palace

When visiting Blenheim Palace, guests enter through the East Gate with an inscription plaque that was added at the end of the 19th century by the 9th Duke stating the generous gift of Queen Anne to the 1st Duke of Marlborough. After passing through the entrance, visitors enter the Kitchen Court area of the Palace. To the right is the Palace gift store and to the left is the Orangery, or the greenhouse area, where currently most of the special events at the Palace are held. Located in the Kitchen Court area are the Palace’s kitchen, bakehouse, laundry and storage areas.

Guests will continue on through this area and pass under a grand archway with the Townsend’s Clock Tower overhead and emerge into the Great Court area of the Palace. Be sure to look back and above either side of the archway for a view of the two stone “English” lions which are savagely devouring the “French” cocks, these statues symbolically reference the 1st Duke of Marlborough’s military victory in 1704 against the French at the Battle of Blenheim. If guests were to proceed directly straight across the Great Court there is another service area, the Stable Court, which was never fully completed and this area is where the several stables and storage areas. To the right of the Clock Tower is the main gate of the Palace, known as the Ditchley Gate, and to the left is the entrance into the main building of the Palace. In the original plans, Vanburgh had designed an impressive stone entrance in the center with colonnades on either side to completely enclose the Great Court but unfortunately these were never built. The wrought iron gate was added later by the 9th Duke during extensive renovation and repairs of the Palace in the late 19th century.

From the Great Court, guests enter the main building of the Blenheim Palace passing through massive doors which features a complicated lock system fashioned in brass and copied from the gates of Warsaw, the door is opened with a huge coronet key. The first room in the Palace is the Great Hall which has a 67 feet high ceiling painted in 1716 by Sir James Thornbill the scene depicts Marlborough presenting to the Sovereign the plan for the Battle of Blenheim. Standing just inside the front door, seen directly ahead is the Saloon, the original plan of the Palace’s first floor had two suites of state apartment rooms located to the left and right of the Saloon which were initially intended for visiting important guests and dignitaries such as the Queen or King. The interconnected rooms of each suite were designed as follows: an audience room, then a private “withdrawing” room and lastly the bedroom of the suite with a small dressing room off to the side. As you will see later in the tour, the rooms now serve different purposes.

The Saloon is entered into directly from the Great Hall guest will pass under a large stone archway with the coat of arms of Queen Anne carved in stone by Grinling Gibbons to honor the sovereign who made Blenheim Palace possible. The Saloon is the state dining room and now only used once a year by the current Marlborough family on Christmas Day. The table is set with a Minton service and silver gilt with a silver centerpiece located on a side table depicting Marlborough on his horse after the Battle of Blenheim writing the famous dispatch to the Duchess of his victory over the French. The other feature of note in the Saloon is the beautiful dome ceiling painted by Louis Laguerre representing Peace. Laguerre also painted the murals on the walls around the perimeter of the room showing people (including his self-portrait) from all the nations of the world coming together in Peace, interestingly he included French spies.

To the left of the Saloon is the Green Writing Room with the most famous tapestry of Blenheim Palace depicting Marlborough in triumph accepting the French Marshall Tallard’s surrender at the Battle of Blenheim. The next state room is the Red Drawing with two large painting of note, one by Sir Joshua Reynolds showing the 4th Duke and his family and facing it on the opposite wall is the John Singer Sargent portrait of the 9th Duke and his family. Beyond this room is the Green Drawing Room.

To the right of the Great Hall, entered down a corridor, is the Long Library. This room is 180 feet long with very high ceilings that feature a series of domes and has several additional distinct features to note. One is the large full length statue of Queen Anne by John Michael Rysbrack with an inscription noting the close ties between her and the 1st Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, the statue stands in the bow window area of the library. The other is located at the north end of the room and it is a large organ that was commissioned by Henry Willis& Sons. Later installed by the 9th Duke in 1891, it is the largest pipe organ in a private home in Europe. The organ is still currently in use and played at the Palace on Friday and Sunday afternoons.

From the Long Library, there is access down a colonnade to the Palace Chapel. The Chapel was completed in 1732 and contains the tomb of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, the Duchess and their two sons sadly their four daughters are not mentioned on the memorial and were buried elsewhere. When the Duke died in 1722 he was buried in Westminster Abbey and when the Duchess died in 1744 his remains were re-interred at Blenheim Palace. Successive Dukes and their wives are also interred in the vault beneath the chapel. Most other members of Churchill family are interred in St. Martin’s parish churchyard at Bladon, a short distance from the palace.

Finally, located in a small room to the right of the Great Hall is the famous room that Winston Churchill was born in 1874 while his parents were visiting their relatives at Blenheim Palace. Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph, was taken by surprise when she gave birth to her son prematurely several weeks before he was expected. It is fitting that Churchill was born at the Palace, since later in life he had a strong sense of family and came to greatly admire the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Many years later, he proposed to his future wife, Clementine Ogilvy, at the Temple to Diana located beside the lake on the estate. Churchill is also buried nearby Bladon there is a direct line of axis from Blenheim Palace past the Column of Victory located on the estate to the cemetery in Bladon thereby symbolically linking both his birth and his death.


The First State Room at Blenheim Palace

More Belgian tapestries depict Marborough's military victories in the first of three "state" rooms that connect the Saloon to the Long Library.

The 1st Duke commissioned a series of 11 tapestries, from the Belgian weaver deVos, to commemorate his 18th century military successes. The Battle of Blenheim tapestry is displayed in the Green Writing Room. Among those displayed in this room are:

  • The Donauworth tapestry, showing Marborough's forces preparing to attack the fortress and walled city.
  • The Battle of Malplaquet
  • The crossing the Lines of Brabant
  • The Siege of Lille.

Above the fireplace is a portrait of Consuelo Vanderbilt, the American 1st wife of the 9th Duke. It was, likely, Vanderbilt money that helped to restore the ornate ceiling of this room. It is decorated with 9 carat gold and is copied from a ceiling in Versailles.


In the winter of 1704-5 John Churchill, duke of Marlborough engaged Sir John Vanbrugh to build a house in Woodstock Park, and together they chose a site overlooking the Glyme valley opposite the old royal palace. (fn. 48a) From the first, in accordance with the queen's wishes, the house was called Blenheim. The foundation stone was laid on 18 June 1705 on a site prepared by the royal gardener Henry Wise. Building continued at the Crown's expense until 1712, when, after the Marlboroughs had lost favour, the Treasury ceased to provide funds. On the queen's death in 1714 the Marlboroughs returned from voluntary exile, but little was done until debts to Blenheim workmen were partially settled in 1716. Building then continued at the Marlboroughs' expense, and the family took up residence in 1719. After the duke's death in 1722 Sarah, duchess of Marlborough, completed the chief features of Vanbrugh's house plan, together with outworks such as the Grand Bridge, the Triumphal Arch, and the Column of Victory. Her work was substantially complete by the early 1730s. (fn. 49a)

From the outset the building operation was on a vast scale, and by August 1705 Vanbrugh reckoned there were some 1,500 workmen on the site. (fn. 50a) The unexpected failure of the park quarries to provide suitable freestone increased the cost and complexity of the undertaking. At first local quarries such as Cornbury and Glympton were used, but soon more distant quarries were called upon, notably those at Burford and Taynton, whence 136 carters were hauling stone in the summer of 1706. In all over 20 quarries were used, the most distant being those at Portland, Plymouth, and Ross-on-Wye. (fn. 51a) Building materials and statuary were regularly carried by Thames barge from London. The building operation affected the economy of a wide area, providing abundant and well paid employment, but provoking sharp price rises: when Vanbrugh was granted large quantities of royal timber from Wychwood forest in 1709 it was hoped that local timber prices would fall to levels which country builders might afford. (fn. 52a) Individual fortunes were presumably made but distress and bankruptcy were precaused when the money supply failed. (fn. 53a) More enduring was the development of Blenheim as a focus of tourism, which began soon after the foundation stone was laid.

The queen's decision to pay for the house was never officially recorded, and warrants of June 1705 appointing the architect and joint comptrollers of works were issued by the Lord Treasurer at the duke's request, making no reference to the Crown's interest. (fn. 54a) It was understood that costs would be met from the Civil List, but those handling the payments (Samuel Travers, Surveyor General of Crown lands, and John Taylor, his deputy) were accountable not to the Treasury but to the duke. (fn. 55a) When the Marlboroughs' political power declined the unbridled expenditure on Blenheim was at once called into question. (fn. 56a)

According to Vanbrugh the duke at first had in mind a house costing £40,000, (fn. 57a) but in July 1705, when Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor General of royal works, visited the site, he estimated the cost at c. £100,000. That estimate omitted many features of the eventual plan, notably the service courts, the ambitious northern approach, the heightening of the main block, and the laying out of the gardens and park. (fn. 58a) The model which Vanbrugh later claimed that the queen had approved and which he had 'exactly followed' evidently postdated Wren's estimate and several changes of plan, and may have been prepared as late as 1708. (fn. 59a) Vanbrugh's own estimates were unreliable: in July 1707 he was expecting to finish in 1709, but by 1708, after delays in acquiring suitable stone, he recognized that even two more seasons would leave the west side unfinished. (fn. 60a) In October 1710, when the problem of money supply became acute and the duchess ordered all work to cease until the Crown sanctioned further payments, Vanbrugh felt that he might 'almost' undertake to finish for another £30,000, but four years later was still estimating over £54,000. (fn. 61a) When pressed he admitted that the total cost of the building would be £ 287,000, 'a large sum for a house, but a poor reward for the services that occasioned building it.' (fn. 62a)

The Crown's expenditure before its commitment ceased on 1 June 1712 (excluding £ 13,000 spent on clearing Woodstock park of 'incumbrances') was £ 220,000, (fn. 63a) and it was later accepted that a further £ 45,000 was owing to Blenheim workmen. (fn. 64a) After work restarted in 1716 the Marlboroughs spent a further £ 32,000 up to 1720, (fn. 65a) and the duchess claimed to have spent another £ 25,000 after the duke's death, out of £ 50,000 left to her to finish Blenheim. (fn. 66a) Elsewhere she claimed that the house had or would cost the family £ 100,000 to complete. (fn. 67a) Expenditure in several years is unaccounted for, and the extent of unsettled debts uncertain, but it is unlikely that the building cost less than £ 325,000. Vanbrugh frequently protested his frugality, attributing rising costs largely to the failure of the park quarries. (fn. 68a) The duchess regarded him as a spendthrift who paid excessive wages, wasted materials, and without authority changed already extravagant plans. (fn. 69a)

The question whether Blenheim workmen were employed by the Crown or the Marlboroughs was central to the prolonged disputes over debts. As early as 1713 a minor creditor brought a successful action against the duke, but the chief creditors, the Strongs, masons, were persuaded to await settlement by the Crown. (fn. 70a) In 1716, after acknowledging debts much higher than the duchess thought reasonable, the Crown paid only a third to creditors, who then sought redress from the Marlboroughs. (fn. 71a) Several were successful, including the Strongs who were awarded over £ 12,000 in 1721. (fn. 72a) The duchess brought an action against 401 Blenheim workmen on various charges, and obtained an injunction forbidding Vanbrugh to pursue her family for debts incurred before 1712. (fn. 73a) Although Vanbrugh's debt was later acknowledged by the Crown (fn. 74a) others were less successful, and Henry Joynes, comptroller of works and the meticulous accountant of the Blenheim building operation, was still seeking settlement in 1748. (fn. 75a)

Vanbrugh's plan c. 1716. The stable court was completed to a different plan, and the great gate and north colonnade were never built.

In the first phase of building Nicholas Hawksmoor was responsible for much of the detailed execution of the design. (fn. 76a) Wren was consulted over certain aspects of the plan, notably the northern approach to the palace. (fn. 77a) Henry Joynes and William Boulter were joint comptrollers of works from 1705, and Boulter was succeeded on his death in 1708 by Tilleman Bobart. (fn. 78a) In 1716 Vanbrugh resigned as architect, and by then Hawksmoor and Joynes had also left Blenheim. Thereafter the duchess took control of the building work with the help of James Moore, cabinet maker, John Desborough, clerk of works, and Tilleman Bobart, who continued at Blenheim (though increasingly confined to garden business) until 1719. (fn. 79a) From 1722 Hawksmoor was again engaged to design or complete major features such as the great gallery, the chapel, and the Triumphal Arch, but was overlooked when the final stages, notably the Marlborough tomb and the Column of Victory, were undertaken. (fn. 80a)

For the early building the principal masons were Edward Strong, father and son others included Henry Banckes, notably on the colonnades, John Townesend on the clock tower and kitchen, and Bartholomew Peisley (d. 1715) on the Grand Bridge. (fn. 81a) In the period 1708-12 Grinling Gibbons provided carved enrichments in wood and stone. Sir Charles and John Hopson and John Smallwell, father and son, were the principal joiners, Robert Wetherill the plasterer, and Matthew Banckes and John Barton carpenters for the roof of the main block. (fn. 82a) From 1716 the principal masons were Christopher Cass and Joshua Fletcher (foremen respectively of the Strongs and Henry Banckes) (fn. 83a) the Oxford masons William Townesend and Bartholomew Peisley (d. 1727) also worked there in that period, chiefly on the kitchen court, before emerging in the 1720s as the principal builders. Sir James Thornhill painted the hall ceiling in 1716, and Louis Laguerre the saloon in 1718. (fn. 84a) The plasterwork of the great gallery was by Isaac Mansfield in 1725.

The plan of Blenheim evolved from the design made by Vanbrugh some five years earlier for Castle Howard (Yorks. N.R.). (fn. 85a) An outline of the palace predating surviving plans (fn. 86a) shows the main block much as it was built, but without the north portico and with different arrangement of buildings around the great court colonnades offset from the north-west and north-east pavilions linked the main block to service wings, which were half H-shaped, lacking the full courtyards of Vanbrugh's later design. At first the plan was very similar to that of Castle Howard, but in the summer of 1705 Vanbrugh decided to enlarge and heighten the proposed hall, add a north portico, and move the chapel and kitchen, which he had intended to place behind the colonnades: instead they were placed at the north end of the colonnades, aligned east-west as the southern blocks of the service wings. The north-west pavilion, where the entrance to the colonnade and chapel had already been made in the west wall, was altered accordingly in December 1705 to provide an entrance in the north wall. (fn. 87a)

When Vanbrugh moved the chapel and kitchen into the service wings the probably already intended to extend those wings into full courtyards, with matching entrance towers and, on their southern elevations, conservatories overlooking formal gardens on the east and west fronts of the main block. (fn. 88a) He claimed later that both courts had been included on plans shown to the duke in the winter of 1707-8, (fn. 89a) and, against the duchess's charge of extravagance, pointed out that the kitchen court, as the probable main entrance for visitors, justified ornamentation such as cloisters and a massive gate tower a stable court was required to provide sufficient coach houses and other offices, and its conservatory, needed for architectural balance, was not for `foolish plants' but would become a 'room of pleasure', with books, statuary, and pictures. (fn. 90a)

Another major change to the original design was Vanbrugh's decision, apparently made in the winter of 1706-7, to heighten the main block both north and south fronts had been designed in the Doric order but, to allow for the taller elevation on the same foundations, the order was changed to Corinthian, and early in 1707 parts of the south front were rebuilt. At the same time the low roofs designed for the corner towers were changed to tall open lanterns. (fn. 91a) Later costly additions to the plan included widening the archways between the great court and service wings and greatly elaborating the clock towers. (fn. 92a)

Priority was given to completing the east wing of the main block, which was to contain the family's rooms. In 1710, before all work was temporarily halted by the duchess, even the west wing was close to roof level and work had begun on the colonnade towards the chapel, (fn. 93a) although that was vandalized soon afterwards when the workmen were dismissed. (fn. 94a) Work was resumed in 1711 but at a slower rate, and the house was uninhabitable when Treasury payments ceased in 1712. In 1716 the most advanced, eastern, part lacked floors, ceilings, staircases, and chimney pieces. At the western end of the main block the shell was incomplete, with the two corner towers largely unbuilt and part of the great gallery not yet roofed. Of the service blocks the half-finished kitchen court was most advanced, while some buildings such as the chapel and the orangery were hardly above the ground. (fn. 95a)

Before Vanbrugh left Blenheim in 1716 new contracts had been drawn up to finish the western towers and the kitchen court, and Thornhill had completed his work on the hall. (fn. 96a) In 1719 when the Marlboroughs moved in much of the exterior work on the main block and kitchen court and the interior of the eastern part and the central state rooms were complete, probably in accordance with Vanbrugh's ideas except for the engagement of Laguerrre for the saloon over 70 rooms in the main block were furnished, including rooms in both quadrants and much of the upper floors, but excluding the great gallery and the state rooms west of the saloon. (fn. 97a) Thereafter the duchess departed from Vanbrugh's plan, and relied on Hawksmoor for the finishing of several principal rooms: the three unfinished state rooms were ceiled in 1724, (fn. 98a) and the great gallery and chapel prepared for plastering in that year. (fn. 99a) Hawksmoor supervised Mansfield's work on the gallery in 1725, and was probably responsible for much of the chapel, although out of favour before it was completed in the early 1730s. (fn. 1a) Other major works completed after 1716, apart from buildings in the park, were the orangery, the great flights of steps to the north and south fronts, most of the terraced pavement of the great court, and the boundary walls of the great and stable courts. (fn. 2a) Vanbrugh's design for a colonnaded northern boundary wall was ignored in favour of a low fence of railings and squat stone piers, and an outer wall or fence between it and the bridge (fn. 3a) the stable court, not completed beyond its eastern range, was enclosed with a wall, and a gateway placed in line with the stable arch. (fn. 4a)

The finished building comprised a south front 24 bays long with raised 3-bay end towers and centrepiece. The shorter 17-bay east and west fronts were extended northwards by the blind walls backing the colonnades to the kitchen and stable blocks. From the great court on the north the wings of the main block are hardly discernible because of the projection of the hall and portico in the centre, and the concave quadrant arcades in the angles between the north front and the wings. In the course of construction Vanbrugh's ideas for the roofscape had changed from a fairly restrained distribution of urns to a towering assemblage of roof lanterns, finials, vases, trophies, gilded copper balls, and statuary. (fn. 5a) Each corner tower carried four tall finials by Gibbons representing a reversed fleur-de-lys surmounted by a ducal coronet. (fn. 6a) The centrepiece of the south front, intended to have been a representation of the mounted duke trampling his enemies, was changed to the surviving vast marble bust of Louis XIV, which fell into the duke's hands after the sack of Tournai (1709). (fn. 7a) The north portico carried Gibbons's carving of the Marlborough arms and his statue of Pallas Athene (fn. 8a) set back above it was a massive broken pediment and the pediment of the hall clerestory, surmounted by Gibbons's reclining statues of chained slaves beneath a gilded ball. Imported Italian statues lined the balustrade flanking the portico, and on the quadrant arcades were Gibbons's statues of the Graces and Virtues. (fn. 9a) His carving of the English lion squeezing the cockerel of France (already regarded as poor taste in 1737) (fn. 10a) survives on the east clock tower, with later copies on the west, and his elaborately sculptured trophies at the north ends of the colonnades. Similar trophies flanking the main entrance steps (fn. 11a) were later replaced in the early 19th century the steps carried a combination of trophies and sphinxes, (fn. 12a) and the surviving small trophies are said to have been moved from the east front. (fn. 13a) The statues flanking the portico and the statues, urns, and finials on the quadrants and colonnades were removed in the 1770s, some being used on the East Gate and others placed in the garden (fn. 14a) in the early 20th century the statues flanking the portico were replaced in terracotta. (fn. 15a)

The interior provided a series of sets of apartments on the principal floor, with the great hall and saloon, as at Castle Howard, occupying the central axis: the hall, entered from the north portico, led to the saloon which overlooked the garden on the south. Some early designs for the hall (fn. 16a) incorporated the passage which crosses its south end, while others placed the passage behind an open screen or large single arch (fn. 17a) that solution was chosen, leaving the lateral walls with five bays. Schemes providing for attached or free-standing columns between each bay were replaced by a simpler design, with fluted Corinthian half columns in the corners, a deeply cut moulded cornice by Gibbons, and two tiers of plain open arcading on the side walls. On the south side, over an arch framing the doorway to the saloon, the first floor corridor forms a gallery with an iron balustrade. The uppermost stage is painted and deeply coved around windows on all sides. The ceiling by Thornhill (1716) depicts the duke of Marlborough offering to Britannia a plan of the battle of Blenheim. (fn. 18a)

Earlier schemes for the saloon (fn. 19a) were set aside and Laguerre was chosen to paint the walls in 1718 with figures representing the four continents looking into the room through a giant colonnade the upper walls were also painted with architectural features, figures, and trophies. The figures included portraits of Laguerre and of the duke's domestic chaplain, Dean Jones. (fn. 20a) The ceiling was badly damaged by fire in 1896. (fn. 21a) The marble doorcases were probably designed by Hawksmoor the west doorcase was carved by Gibbons, the others added after 1716. (fn. 22a) The double-headed eagles in the tympana allude to the duke's title of prince of Mindelheim, conferred on him by the Emperor Leopold in 1705. (fn. 23a)

Flanking the saloon on the south front were two sets of state apartments, each comprising antechamber, drawing room, and great bedchamber. The south-west corner and the whole of the west front were occupied by the great gallery (later the long library) at the south-east corner was the duke's study or grand cabinet, the termination of his private suite of apartments which occupied part of the east front, while to the north lay the duchess's suite. Each of the principal apartments was connected to further rooms, perhaps for personal servants, in the mezzanine. A 'little apartment' west of the great hall, later called Dean Jones's room, (fn. 24a) was linked to its own stair in the mezzanine. In the west quadrant was a two-storeyed suite intended in 1716 for Francis, earl of Godolphin, (fn. 25a) while the east quadrant, although similarly arranged, seems to have been used chiefly to service the dining room. (fn. 26a) The saloon may have been used for dining on formal occasions, but the main dining room was east of the great hall. Vanbrugh's plans provided for two grand staircases flanking the great hall behind the arcades, but only the eastern one was built two other large staircases were behind the quadrants. A long east-west vaulted stone corridor with saucer domes linked the hall with the wings of the main block and provided a view of c. 350 ft. from the bow window on the east to that on the west.

On the upper floor the present arrangement of bedrooms and dressing rooms leading off long corridors may be little changed from the original plan. (fn. 27a) In 1719 much of the first floor was arranged in suites, including one for the Marlboroughs' granddaughter, Lady Anne Spencer, comprising an apartment, a bedchamber, and a room for a female servant. A suite occupied in 1719 by Lady Pembroke, presumably Barbara Herbert, countess of Pembroke (d. 1722), was probably that still called Lady Pembroke's in 1780, when it was towards the east end of the south front. The surviving Godolphin suite towards the west end presumably acquired its name in the earlier 18th century. (fn. 28a) There were garrets for servants, presumably the surviving housemaids' and batchelors' heights in attics flanking the great hall and saloon, but a maids' tower and a footmen's tower in the main block in 1719 may have been the attics in the north-east and south-east towers.

The main block incorporated two large lightwells which, at basement level, were lined with arcaded passages. In the basement (fn. 29a) surviving decoration and the descent of the east wing staircase suggest that the room at garden level below the bow window room was intended at first for family use, and the vaulted rooms below the great gallery were intended for a grotto. (fn. 30a) In the mid 18th century much of the basement was given over to wine cellars and store rooms, but there were also dining halls for servants, and separate dining halls for the steward and chaplain. (fn. 31a)

The kitchen occupied the south-west corner of the kitchen court, while the range flanking the great court probably contained preparation rooms on the ground floor and servants' accommodation above the common hall was in the northern cross-wing which balanced the kitchen. The central archway was crowned by a clock tower built by John Townesend (d. 1728), the clock being made by Langley Bradley in 1710. (fn. 32a) East of the kitchen on the south side of the cloistered court lay a small open yard and a long greenhouse or orangery much of the north side was also an open yard, serving as a drying area for the laundry in the east range a dairy mentioned in that area in 1719 (fn. 33a) probably, as later, occupied the north-east corner. In the centre of the east range was a tall entrance arch flanked by massive tapering pilasters, above which was the water cistern. The east gate (now Flagstaff gate) incorporated a porter's lodge, and between that and the orangery was a bakery. In 1716 Vanbrugh reluctantly chose cheaper stone to finish the kitchen court, and, as a result, costly repairs were necessary in modern times. (fn. 34a)

The stable court, of similar design, was never completed the eastern range was apparently up and roofed by 1709, (fn. 35a) but was later modified to include a coachhouse on its west side, while the duchess reluctantly added a tower 'of more than ordinary expense' to balance the clock tower on the kitchen court. (fn. 36a) Both outer courts were planned with well-fenestrated elevations to the south, where they overlooked formal gardens, but their outer elevations to the north, east, and west had high walls with few windows and massive projecting buttresses. Presumably they were intended to continue on the north side of the house the military character of the banks and bastions enclosing the gardens on the south.

The chapel, like the rest of the stable court, seems to have been replanned after Vanbrugh's departure and before 1723-4 when its unfinished walls were completed and William Townesend of Woodstock was engaged to provide carpentry for it. (fn. 37a) The early plans (fn. 38a) providing for an apsed western (altar) end were successively adapted (fn. 39a) all show the chapel projecting one bay west of the central stable block, but by 1752, and probably from its completion in the 1720s, the chapel's west end appears to have been in line with the stables, and to have contained two long round-headed windows rather than the single window of the early plans. (fn. 40a) Likewise the projecting centre of the south front was probably changed in the 1720s to the surviving arrangement of two tall round-headed windows. An elevation drawing by Hawksmoor, which includes a design for a monument to the first duke, shows the interior still apsed and the walls with Corinthian pilasters and roundheaded recesses. (fn. 41a) Although his monument design was eventually rejected, Hawksmoor was evidently concerned with the chapel in 1725, (fn. 42a) and much of the interior, with its fluted giant pilasters and plasterwork similar to that of the great gallery, was probably his work.

In 1727 the chapel was paved beneath a raised gallery, which had evidently been retained from the original plan later it was said to have Doric piers. (fn. 43a) Presumably the building was nearing completion by 1728, when the duchess quarrelled with the bishop of Oxford over its consecration, which eventually took place in 1731. (fn. 44a) The elaborate Marlborough monument dominating the interior was designed by William Kent and executed by Michael Rysbrack it was commissioned in 1730 and completed in 1733. (fn. 45a) When the duchess died in 1744 the duke's remains were removed from Westminster Abbey to the family vault beneath the chapel. (fn. 46a)

Hawksmoor was not responsible for the final details of the interior, and the duchess claimed its 'very plain' finish as her own. (fn. 47a) In 1744 the chapel was said to have neither altar nor altar piece, and its plainness was contrasted with that of the rest of the house. (fn. 48) After refurbishment in 1787 it was described as 'extremely grand', finished in grey and white. By then there was an altar piece, the Descent from the Cross by Jordaens, which was removed shortly after 1840. (fn. 49) Further alterations made in 1857-9 under the direction of S. S. Teulon included the removal of the gallery and the introduction of a double flight of alabaster steps at the west end, a font, a richly ornamented marble and alabaster pulpit, and new seating. (fn. 50) It is not known what was done by David Brandon, who was working on the chapel c. 1870, (fn. 51) but when Sir Thomas Jackson refitted the interior c. 1890 he complained of the previous work of 'some bungler', which he had been unable to remove entirely (fn. 52) the pulpit was sent to Waddesdon church (Bucks.), the font to a Woodstock chapel, and some of the pews to Combe. (fn. 53) Jackson was responsible for the surviving organ case, and probably the pulpit, reredos, and benches. The statue of Lord Randolph Churchill (d. 1895) is by Waldo Story. (fn. 54)

The interior of the great gallery, completed as a picture gallery c. 1725, was altered by the 3rd duke to accommodate the Sunderland Library, which had been collected by his father Charles Spencer, earl of Sunderland (d. 1722) and was removed to Blenheim before 1749 from Sunderland House, Piccadilly. (fn. 55) The carved bookcases were not entirely successful: those blocking windows at the north and south ends suffered from damp, while the rest, on the east wall, were exposed to sunlight. (fn. 56) Most of the surviving decoration of the long library is Hawksmoor's design of the 1720s, notably the plasterwork by Mansfield and the doorcases by William Townesend and Bartholomew Peisley. (fn. 57) The Sunderland Library was sold in 1881-3, (fn. 58) but the intention to reconvert the room to a picture gallery was postponed. (fn. 59) Bookcases still lined the east wall in 1900, but had been removed by 1909 except from the south end. (fn. 60) The change may have been made in 1902 when the organ, by Henry Willis, first placed by the 8th duke in the bow window in 1891, was removed to the north end and its case rebuilt, allegedly incorporating 18th-century carved woodwork. (fn. 61) Before 1912 the 9th duke restored the room as a library, making pastiches of the original bookcases, of which some were re-used. (fn. 62) The statue of Queen Anne by Rysbrack was placed in the bow window in 1738, but was given its present pedestal in 1746, (fn. 63) perhaps marking its removal to the south end and the refitting of the gallery as a library. Also in the long library are Rysbrack's busts of the 1st duke, on a pedestal of 1772 by Sir William Chambers, and of Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland. (fn. 64)

Of the few external changes made to the palace after its completion in the 1730s the most notable concerned the great court, which in the later 18th century not only lost much of its roof ornamentation but also, in keeping with Capability Brown's transformation of the formal gardens to the south, east, and west of the palace, was stripped of its terracing and pavements and turned to grass. A few pedestals opposite the archways to the kitchen and stable courts seem to have been retained, and probably the original inner boundary fence on the north. (fn. 65) Between 1900 and 1910 the 9th duke, using early plans and drawings, and with the assistance of Achille Duchêne, restored the great court to something like its original appearance, with terracing and statuary. On the north he added a sunk wall, railings, and tall, wrought iron gates. (fn. 66) The east gate into the kitchen court was altered by the 4th duke c. 1773 under the direction of Sir William Chambers, who tried to mitigate its uncompromising military appearance by adding swags, laurels, and lions' heads, together with statues and pinnacles taken from the north front of the palace. (fn. 67) An inscription recounting, somewhat inaccurately, the circumstances of Blenheim's construction was placed over the archway. (fn. 68) The surviving wrought iron gates were inserted in the 1840s. (fn. 69)

By the mid 18th century the division of the principal floor into suites had been largely abandoned in favour of an established circuit of public rooms in which was displayed the family's vast collection of pictures, tapestries, and sculptures. (fn. 70) The circuit began at the great hall, passed along the corridor to the bow window room, turned south to the grand cabinet, then west to the long library. (fn. 71) The 4th duke refurbished and made several interior alterations to the public rooms, mostly under the direction of Sir William Chambers, and before 1789 he seems to have rearranged the entire picture collection. (fn. 72) By then the former bedrooms flanking the grand cabinet had been turned into drawing rooms, and the former antechamber east of the saloon was a dining room, with whitepainted panelling, repainted by 1817 as imitation oak the former dining room east of the hall was used as a billiard room by 1780 and also as a library by the early 19th century. (fn. 73) The three rooms west of the saloon preserved something of the original arrangements, with an antechamber (called until the 1840s the green drawing room) leading to the state drawing room and so to the state bedchamber. The principal family bedrooms were at the north end of the east front.

Chambers's embellishments were carried out in conjunction with the furniture makers William Ince and John Mayhew, and the chimneypieces which he inserted in several rooms on the east and south fronts were carved by Joseph Wilton and others. (fn. 74) The new furnishings included an elaborate bed for the state bedchamber, which survives in the private apartments whence it was removed in the 1840s, (fn. 75) and pier glasses and tables for the grand cabinet and elsewhere. Chambers's pupil John Yenn also designed chimneypieces and pier glasses in the 1780s. (fn. 76) In 1789 it was noted that the bow window room ceiling was painted with arabesques and military emblems by Hakewill, probably John Hakewill (d. 1791) (fn. 77) the ceiling was painted over in the 20th century. Evidently the 4th duke redecorated many other rooms: in 1770 Walpole commented adversely on the 'vast introduction of blue paper', (fn. 78) and in 1789 mention was made of new decorations, particularly a richly gilded ceiling, in the state drawing room (now the second state room). (fn. 79) Perhaps it was at that period that all three state rooms west of the saloon lost their Hawksmoor ceilings, as described in 1724, and acquired the plainer ceilings (all evidently of one date) which survived until the 1890s (fn. 80) it is possible, however, that the changes may not have been made until the 1840s. (fn. 81) The grand cabinet, after refurbishment by Chambers, remained unaltered until the mid 20th century, when the chimneypiece and almost all other 18th-century fittings were removed. (fn. 82)

The duke set up an observatory in the south- east tower and in 1789 was establishing another in the south-west tower neither was mentioned after 1840. (fn. 83) In the mid 18th century a china collection was exhibited to the public 'below stairs', (fn. 84) but before 1789 was withdrawn from public display after a theft. (fn. 85) In 1796 a china gallery was built in the park to house another collection. (fn. 86) In 1787 the orangery in the kitchen court was turned into a theatre, with seats for over 200 people plays were produced there regularly for only two years, before invited audiences, (fn. 87) but it remained a theatre until converted shortly after 1840 into offices for the duke and his steward. (fn. 88) In 1796 the supposed Titian paintings presented to the 1st duke by Victor Amadeus, king of Sardinia, were removed from the great hall and displayed separately in a room east of the theatre. (fn. 89) The Titian room was burnt down in 1861 and its contents, which included a notable Rubens, destroyed. (fn. 90) The fire destroyed much of the south side of the north-east court, but muniments in the office strong room were preserved. When the range was rebuilt the former orangery was restored as a conservatory and a new estate office built on the former open yard. (fn. 91) A strong room was inserted in the west end of the conservatory in 1902. (fn. 92)

The 5th duke rearranged exhibits in the public rooms to accommodate paintings moved to Blenheim from Marlborough House when it reverted to the Crown in 1817. (fn. 93) His principal structural alterations were in the area beneath the long library, which in the 18th century was known as the stone gallery. (fn. 94) In the 1820s he divided the area into three rooms, lavishly decorated in a variety of styles, including a room (now the restaurant) with japanned panelling and a large mural of an Indian tiger hunt. (fn. 95) The northernmost room was turned into a china gallery in the 1840s after the closure of the gallery in the park. (fn. 96)

The 5th duke's financial problems led to serious neglect of the building. (fn. 97) When he died in 1840 his successor quickly obtained an Act enabling him to finance repairs by mortgages and timber sales. (fn. 98) During the 6th duke's time (1840-57) the palace was renovated 'at immense expense', reputedly £80,000. (fn. 99) The architect Thomas Allason began work there in 1841. (fn. 1) In 1844 the visiting king of Saxony found 'almost every part in disorder' and under repair, but his party judged the 'extravagant opulence' of the palace by the dairy, where a fountain, which 'in any other place' would adorn the entrance avenue, was provided simply to cool milk and butter the fountain, in the present bookshop, was built in artificial stone by John Seeley. (fn. 2) The public rooms were redecorated and rearranged, the state bedchamber becoming the crimson drawing room the rooms between the bow window room and grand cabinet (formerly the duke's study and a drawing room) were completely redecorated and turned into a billiard room and breakfast room, while the present duchess's bedchamber was briefly the state bedchamber. (fn. 3) That room and the duke's morning room to the north were receiled in ornate Louis XIV style. (fn. 4) The conversion of the theatre into offices reflects a decision to move the centre of estate administration from Hensington House, occupied by the duke's auditor since the 1760s, (fn. 5) and it was probably also in the 1840s that the former kitchen was turned into the audit house. (fn. 6) Then or earlier in the 19th century new kitchens were created in the basement of the main block, and the loggia in the basement of the eastern light well partly walled in and a staircase built to provide access to the dining room above. (fn. 7) Under-floor heating of the main corridors may have been installed in the 1850s, (fn. 8) and probably in the 6th duke's time Blenheim acquired its own gas works, built outside the stable court. (fn. 9) The works were removed when electricity was installed in the 1880s by the 8th duke who also introduced radiators and telephones. (fn. 10)

The 7th duke converted the billiard room in the private apartments, the present smoking room, into a Gothic library designed by S. S. Teulon some fittings survived later alterations. (fn. 11) Other 19th-century changes included alterations to the principal staircases, and that in the north-west of the main block was entirely reconstructed. The stable court had been extended piecemeal from the later 18th century: (fn. 12) a melon house built within it by the 5th duke (fn. 13) was removed, and by the mid 19th century the peripheral buildings included a cottage and coachhouses flanking the west gate and an opensided riding school on the north. (fn. 14) In the 1880s the court's south side was built up to house the electricity generator, and the adjacent cottage enlarged. (fn. 15) The riding school was enclosed to form an assembly hall for Malvern College during the Second World War.

From the time of the 7th duke the circuit of public rooms was curtailed and the whole east front reserved as private apartments. (fn. 16) In the public rooms the large drawing room west of the grand cabinet became a billiard room, and the saloon was refurnished as a drawing room, (fn. 17) but there were few other changes. By the 1880s an anteroom to display porcelain linked the hall to the rooms at the east end of the south front. In the late 19th century the contents of the former china gallery were displayed in the basement below the bow window room. (fn. 18) In general the exhibited collections were greatly reduced by the sale of the Sunderland Library in 1881-3 and by later sales of heirlooms by the 8th duke. (fn. 19) Much of the profit was devoted to agricultural development but in the 8th duke's latter years some was spent on the palace, notably on restoring the chapel.

The 9th duke recreated a formal setting on the east, west, and north fronts. (fn. 20) Inside he restored the long library and altered (to his later regret) the three state rooms west of the saloon by adding applied decoration in the style of Louis XIV on the walls and ceilings. (fn. 21) He restored the third state room as the state bedchamber by 1912, (fn. 22) turned the billiard room into the red drawing room, and the panelled dining room east of the saloon into the morning room. (fn. 23) The saloon was used as a dining room on formal occasions but the family usually dined in the bow window room. Later the third state room again ceased to be furnished as a bedchamber, and the morning room became the green writing room. (fn. 24)

BLENHEIM PALACE c.1860

The long library was used as a hospital ward during the First World War. On the outbreak of the Second World War Malvern College was evacuated to Blenheim, but after a year the palace was taken over by the Intelligence Service until 1944, and other tenants included the British Council and the Ministry of Supply. Huts were built in the great court and partitions divided many of the principal rooms. After restoration the palace was reopened to visitors in 1950. (fn. 25) Thereafter costly repairs were carried out to most of the structure (fn. 26) the chief alterations were the conversion of the basement below the library into a restaurant, the provision of staff flats on part of the upper floors, and of a conference centre in the kitchen court.

From the outset Blenheim housed a large domestic staff, under the control of a resident steward in 1764 the Marlboroughs had c. 90 servants of whom over 70 were at Blenheim and their wages and liveries cost nearly £3,000 a year. (fn. 27) In the early 19th century it was estimated that there were 187 furnished rooms in the palace and there was a staff, not all resident, of c. 80. (fn. 28) The penurious 5th duke was forced to reduce his establishment greatly. (fn. 29) In 1841, when the 6th duke was in residence, there were 30 servants and a governess in the palace, and in 1871 a similar number in 1851 and 1881, when the family was absent, there were fewer than a dozen resident servants. (fn. 30) A higher proportion of the staff lived out as park lodges proliferated and estate cottages were built in nearby villages. At the end of the 19th century the inside staff was between 35 and 40, and the outside staff between 40 and 50, excluding the hunting department based at Home Farm, Bladon. (fn. 31) In modern times, although the family ceased to reside during the tourist season, the staff was enlarged as the palace became a commercial enterprise by the 1980s there were c. 90 permanent employees and twice that number in the summer months. (fn. 32)

In 1786 George III visited Blenheim and remarked of the view from the Triumphal Arch, 'we have nothing to equal this'. (fn. 33) Other royal visitors included the king of Denmark in 1768, the emperor of Russia in 1814, Queen Adelaide in 1835, Prince Albert in 1841, Edward VII as prince of Wales in 1859, 1870, 1873, and 1896, Edward VIII in 1936, and Charles, prince of Wales, in 1976 and 1981. (fn. 34) Sir Winston Churchill was born in the palace, in Dean Jones's room, in 1874. (fn. 35) Even as a building site Blenheim became an object of popular tourism, and c. 1720 an Oxford man complained of his recurrent obligation to take visitors there. From the outset the building was recognized as a public monument and in 1712 the duke directed his comptroller of works, Henry Joynes, to show visitors round without fee later the duchess accused Joynes of profiting handsomely. (fn. 36) One notable visitor refused admission on the duchess's orders was Vanbrugh, who had to view his work from over the park wall in 1725. (fn. 37) Guide books, at first published as annexes to Oxford tours, proliferated from the mid 18th century. Complaints about the crowds of tourists and the rudeness and venality of porters and guides were common, and fees were regarded as exorbitant. (fn. 38) In the later 18th century the family maintained some privacy by restricting opening hours to a brief period in the afternoon but the park was open most days and there was also a series of public days in the late summer. (fn. 39) Throughout its history the palace and grounds were made available for local celebrations and other public events. Distinguished tourists were sometimes received by the family, but in 1802 the reclusive 4th duke deeply offended Nelson by sending out refreshments to him in the park. By contrast the king of Saxony was received in 1844 with a 21-gun salute. (fn. 40) The 5th duke shocked some visitors by letting shooting and fishing by the hour, (fn. 41) and his successor caused outrage by raising the entry fee, (fn. 42) which was restored in 1856 to 1s. and remained unchanged until the First World War the fees were given to charities such as the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford. (fn. 43) Damage and theft by visitors was a recurrent problem in 1913 the park was, exceptionally, closed to the public because of a threat of damage by suffragettes. (fn. 44) The family resided more frequently from the late 19th century and public access to the palace was curtailed from the 1920s only the grounds were open and tourism declined sharply. (fn. 45) When the palace was reopened in 1950 it attracted large crowds and by the 1980s there were over 350,000 visitors a year. (fn. 46)


Watch the video: BLENHEIM HORSE TRIALS 2019