Friday, June 1, 2012

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace (Photo: Jeff Dody)
Commander Kelly's Conservative tour of London continues with a detour to Oxfordshire to the site of Blenheim Palace.

Sir John Churchill, 1st Duke of Blenheim 1650 - 1722
Blenheim Palace ( near Oxford was the home of two of Britain's most remarkable men.  Sir John Churchill was awarded the house and grounds by a grateful nation by Queen Anne after having led British forces and their allies at the battle of Blenheim on August 13, 1704.  Blenheim was a decisive British victory in the War of Spanish Succession that checked the ambitions of Louis XIV of France, the Sun King.  The Duke of Marlborough was, therefore, responsible for halting the advance of a centralising authoritarian government by a Parliamentary democracy.  He was, in short, a champion of limited government and Conservative principles.

The Duke of Marlborough was also a military genius who, like the Duke of Wellington, never lost a battle.  He also had a reputation for being solicitous on behalf of his troops who were well-fed and well supplied before battle.  Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) wrote of his ancestor that, "The First Duke's victory at Blenheim changed the political axis of the world."

Blenheim Palace (Photo: Jeff Dody)

Long Library at Blenheim
Blenheim Palace is an extraordinary baroque building designed by the architect Sir John Vanbrugh.  It is filled with splendidly decorated rooms, historically important paintings and tapestries and an opulent long library.

Commander K. at Blenheim
You will find the bed and room in which Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (see earlier post, Churchill War Rooms, 2/12/12) was born at Blenheim Palace on November 30, 1874.  On the grounds of Blenheim Palace you will also find the temple of Diana which is the location where Winston proposed to Clementine Hozier on August 11, 1908.  Churchill wrote, "At Blenheim I took two very important decisions: to be born and to marry.  I am happily content with the decisions I took on both those occasions."

Commander K. in front of the Temple of Diana (Photo: Jeff Dody)
"It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together side by side in majesty, in justice, and in peace."  Winston Churchill.
Winston and Clemmie
I had an opportunity to visit Winston and Clemmie's grave at St. Martin's church in nearby Bladon.  It is remarkable to see how simple their gravesite truly is.  Churchill could, of course,  have been buried at St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey or with whatever grand monument he liked.  Instead, he chose to have his mortal remains return home near the site of his birth, in celebration of the site of his marriage proposal and alongside his American mother, Jennie Churchill.  The man who has been acclaimed the greatest Briton was content with the plainest of monuments.  This is a moving testament to his humility and his humanity.

Commander K. with WSC and Clemmie (Photo; Jeff Dody)

For the latest juicy gossip about the current 11th Duke of Marlborough who recently married his fourth wife, an Iranian beauty, check out the following links...

Winston Churchill's Funeral