– 58 – Blenheim Palace

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Amazing weather.  Cloudless sky.  Blue blue blue.

Mr M and I dragged two unwilling teenagers to visit one of the most iconic houses in the Britain: Blenheim Palace, home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough.

The land and the money to build the house was given to the 1st Duke as a ‘thank you’ for the victory over the French and Germans at the battle of Blenheim in 1704.  Trivia no 1: the family pays the Crown a ‘peppercorn rent’ each year… on the anniversary of the battle a French flag is presented to the Queen… as rent.  Not a bad deal me thinks!  Trivia no 2:  it is the only non-Royal house (… “house”…) which is allowed to be called palace (more appropriately)

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Some of the house is open to the public and  it’s still used by the Duke and Duchess and their children, mainly in the winter when it’s closed to the public.  It is totally fascinating to see family photographs amongst oil paintings 200 years old.  Contemporary novels on the bedside tables side by side to the chamber pot who’ belonged to Marie Antoinette.  An iPod charger on ‘campaign furniture’ and a stack of shirts on a bed the exact copy of which belonged to the Napoleon Bonaparte…

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the entrance hall

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bottom left you can see a photo of the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his wife

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Not a bad room for Christmas lunch…

Slightly bonkers.  We took the extra tour of the Duke’s apartment and Charles the guide was brilliant and full of anecdotes… by this point even the grumpy teenagers had been converted.

The library was my favourite room (you can spot No 1 looking back at us with his body language saying… ok, we’ve done here, can we get some food?)

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There was a ‘fashion’ exhibition throughout the house and apparently this room had been used by Dior for a fashion show at some point… part of the catwalk carpet was still there…

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Not sure Monsieur Dior would have approved of my choice of footwear!

Also…

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… the actual/real/not a copy outfit worn by Colin Firth in THAT scene was there!!

(ahem… the one on the left… just in case…)

Of course any self-respecting house needs a water feature…

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or two…

The huge gardens had been landscaped amongst others by Lancelot (awesome name) Capability (slightly pretentious nickname) Brown… whose main achievement is the huge lake:

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Then you have the ‘South Lawn’… what? you don’t have a south lawn?  Pahhh…

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Trivia No 3: that bust on top of house?  it is the bust of Louis the XIV and was stolen by 1st Duke of Marlborough from the Belgians… and made to look out for eternity over the grand parklands of an Englishman victorious over his country… cheeky!  (actually this time of formal garden is called a ‘patierre’ but I won’t bore you with my extensive knowledge… – also known as a husband who read from Wikipedia all the way from home to here whilst I was driving)

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It was such a good day… a picnic surrounded by history, the sun, a walk, we laughed, we chatted…

I’m so happy.