My first trip to Blenheim Palace occurred in 1980 after my graduation from college. At the time, my father had an office in London with a flat. My mother and I made the trip together, staying in the flat, and taking tourist excursions during the day. As with most grand homes of England in the early 1900s, Blenheim was infused with capital for its upkeep through the marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt (US heiress) to Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough. Blenheim Palace is the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill and a UNESCO world heritage site.
My second trip to Blenheim occurred in 1987 when our family, including my brother and sister-in-law, traveled to England for Christmas. Rather than dining at our hotel on Christmas Day we made plans to venture to Oxford and Blenheim Palace. As we made our way through Dickens-like decorated shops in London, including Harrods Food Halls, we gathered provisions in anticipation that restaurants along the way would be closed or already booked.
Christmas Day dawned with a brisk, cold wind. After a warm breakfast we gathered our provisions and loaded into the car for the drive to Oxford and the nearby Blenheim Palace. As we drove through quaint, festive English villages we felt as though we were a part of the Victorian celebration of Christmas. Closed for Christmas, we were not able to tour the palace but knew that we would be able to get a lovely view from the surrounding park grounds. Inspired by the park’s landscape designed by Henry Wise we decided to have our Christmas picnic on the park lawn overlooking the pond with the palace in the background. While it was an inspired location, the damp winter winds chilled us all to the bone. Having quickly eaten, we gathered up any remaining food and containers and packed up to head back into London in the warmth of the car.
In celebration of my niece’s (daughter of my brother and sister-in-law who attended the 1987 Christmas picnic) 16th birthday, I gave her a trip. She chose to go to London and Paris. The year was 2012 and the Summer Olympic games were being conducted in London. In addition to attending several Olympic events and seeing the highlights of London I wanted to share the magic of Blenheim with my niece since her father and mother had endured the now legendary Christmas picnic.
To help with the tour and transportation I hired a Blue Badge Tourist Guide, Hari, who became a charming host for the two of us. After viewing several places at Oxford where the Harry Potter movies were shot we moved on to Blenheim. After an already full day of touring, my niece was anxious to return to London. Satisfied with a photo in Blenheim’s park we loaded into Hari’s vehicle for the return trip.
In 2014 I had another opportunity to visit Blenheim with my husband who loves touring palaces and beautiful homes. And, after all the glowing compliments I paid him, we decided to hire Hari to guide us on our tour to Blenheim. This time, we took the time to savor Blenheim, learning more about not only its history but its interiors.
Each time I return to Blenheim I bring a slightly different perspective to the experience. And, as the years have flown by I grow to appreciate not only its beauty but the sacrifices that have been made to ensure its preservation.
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.