So summer is fast approaching…but last year during autumn I finally took a tour to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. It’s still a bit cold once the sun disappears, mind. In fact, now is a perfect time to visit as you can wear nice thick jumpers (pullovers) and go exploring through ancient ruins and real-life castles.
Maybe even climb over the wind-swept moors and shout “Heathcliff!” at the top of your lungs, as the sheep look at you in a funny way.
And you can visit beautiful palaces! Such as the incredible Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. Family home to the famous Winston Churchill.
The Blenheim Palace pictures were taken by dad, Kevin Holt. I forced him out of his cardboard box in the field next to the M62 in Cheshire to head down to Oxfordshire a few weeks ago, whilst the weather was still holding up. Good timing too, as a few days after, rubbish weather flooded in.
Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 to 1722 and is one of England’s largest houses. It was home to the Churchill family but by the end of the 19th century it had fallen into disrepair. These old houses take a lot of upkeep.
Now we’ve all seen Downton Abbey – this house is a prime example of what happened to many grand houses of the day. It was saved by the 9th Duke of Marlborough, after he married the American railroad heirless Consuelo Vanderbilt. Quite! Saved by a wealthy American lady. Similar to how Downton was saved by Cora Crawley. I know that’s dreadful to mix fact with fiction, but it’s an interesting thought.
Another marriage in the family was with Jennie Jerome, daughter of the rich New Yorker Leonard Jerome. She became the wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and Winston Churchill’s mother.
Jennie described her arrival to Blenheim in a letter to her sister: “As we passed through the entrance archway and the lovely scenery burst upon me, Randolph said with pardonable pride, ‘This is the finest view in England’ Looking at the lake, the bridge, the miles of magnificent park studded with old oaks and the huge stately palace, I confess I felt awed. But my American pride forbade the admission.”
And for visitors of the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina – you can see where George Vanderbilt got many of his ideas for his house from this and other European homes, such as Chatsworth House. There are pictures of the Vanderbilt/Churchill families at the Biltmore too.