Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

At Home with Winston Churchill

Last year we had the fortune to visit Chatsworth House at Christmas.  This was an absolute delight to see the decorations around the house with the theme of Wind in the Willows (my posts are here and here).  This year, Blenheim Palace was going to be our start to the lead up to Christmas.  The birthplace of Winston Churchill and the wealthy Dukes of Marlborough (the only dukedom that allows for female inheritance due to an Act of Parliament back in 1703 as there were no male heirs to the title).

Blenheim Palace which started to be builtin 1705 and is now a World Heritage Site

This visit will be in two parts (like my Chatsworth posts), focussing on the inside today and then another post taking you outside at the weekend.  So, are you sitting comfortably?  Is the fire lit, Earl Grey tea to hand and a custard cream?  Here we go...  Let's enter the hall with some modern art looping above us.

Art at Blenheim Palace - Sweetbriar Dreams

In the rooms that were on display, modern art took pride of place with various forms of textiles.  The link is here if you want to view some of Michelangelo Pistoletto's work.  I do love textiles, but unlike the artwork at Chatsworth House last year, this did not carry on the Christmas theme.


Yes, that's enough of the art, let's look at some decorations!



Staying for lunch anyone?




One of the rules in my house for when decorating a tree is NOT to have the lights outside of the decorations!  I had to stop myself from sorting this one out!!


There was a beautiful library to marvel at, however the modern art took over almost completely with mirrors and people cut outs which really spoilt the effect.  Looking up as I do, I was able to focus away from the hall of mirrors.




Looking down over the staged dining table in the hall showed just how enormous this Palace is.


... and then looking up!  SCAFFOLDING!  I do love scaffolding, and this was amazing with the Christmas decorations to prettify the steel poles.


But let's now look at the man himself.  Sir Winston Churchill.


The Greatest Briton who needs no words really as his life is well recorded, however you can read about his Orders, Decorations and Medals here.


In the Churchill Exhibition you can see his Dispatch Box which he used in 1919.  To think that he held that handle and the documents that were held inside! 


And, this is a little macabre, Churchill's curls from when he was five years old!


A few more pictures to finish off?... One of the many amazing ceilings of this Palace...


An exquisite cradle which was meant to be a replica of one that Napolean Bonapart commissioned for his heir, was ordered by the 9th Duke of Marlborough's wife, Consuelo Vandabilt.  


Now, for me, the feet of the cradle reminded me of the 'dolphin' lamps at the side of the Thames ...


As myself and Mumsy do, we like to compare the houses that we have previously seen.  Still nothing has come close to the sheer scale of Burghley House in Stamford and the natural welcome of the house, but Blenheim certainly has the austerity and brazenness of wealth thrown at every corner.  Everything was on a magnificent scale, but a little cold if I'm honest.  Chatsworth felt warm with its beautiful decorations and personal touches.  Highclere felt like a large family home and well loved.  Burghley House again felt like a well loved building oozing history.  Blenheim was here to sell.  I heard one guide say that the house has to open each year otherwise it goes back to the Crown.  I think this sentence explained a lot to me.


There was a tour of upstairs, but to be honest, my camera didn't even whisper to come out.  The Untold Story tour took you through time controlled doors and into small exhibition rooms where you could only enter the next room when the time had elapsed.  The creepy mannequins telling the story of the house in small cramped surroundings and timed conditions were not something I would want to experience again.  I'm not claustrophobic but I felt thoroughly trapped and uncomfortable! 

So, happily it was time to go outside!  See you at the weekend!!


27 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Tanja, a very grand house on an enormous scale.

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  2. What beautiful decorations! And those curls!

    I hope you will consider joining in the 2017 PenPal Sign-ups on my blog:

    http://collettaskitchensink.blogspot.com/2016/11/2017-penpal-sign-ups-ends-121916.html

    Colletta

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    1. Thanks Colletta. I would join in the PenPal sign up but unfortunately I would not be able to commit the time. I hope that others see your link and sign up. Good luck with this.

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  3. Fabulous and yes, lights always go on first, then the decorations!

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  4. Sneaking in to my neck of the woods then. Not been there in an age but would like to go again. Did you visit Churchill's Grave which is not far away

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    1. Unfortunately not Bill. I should have planned the day better really and not gone on the upstairs tour. Maybe another time.

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  5. It's high time I went back and did a feature - don't blame you for splitting it into two - just so much to see. Wonderful photos, as usual, Chel - you really do have an excellent eye. Given your comments, above, I'd be interested in your views if you ever visit Althorp. As Bill says, hope you made it to Bladon; such a simple grave for such a great man.

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    1. Thanks Mike as always. I haven't been to Althorp, even though I should as it is on my patch. This will be on my list for next year.

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  6. I've read several books about Winston Churchill so this is really interesting to me. I love seeing those shelves of books! And I LOVE your new profile pic...you behind the camera! Very nice! Hugs, Diane

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  7. How beautiful to visit these grand places decorated for Christmas. Beautiful photos. Now I'll pop over to see your Chatsworth with the Wind in the Willows theme. We've visited both Blenheim and Chatsworth but not during times with extra decor...

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    1. You really must see Chatsworth at Christmas. It's so magical and the attention to detail is exquisite! xx

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  8. Impressive, shame it wasn't the tour you anticipated. The Christmas d├ęcor looked good and the table all set was a delight.

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    1. Yes, very impressive, and the table setting I think I would be able to manage which fork to use :D x

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  9. I remember the inside tour but not the upstairs with the timed rooms. How strange. I have a photo of the ceiling that you showed. It is stunning to see in person. I am sorry to see the modern artwork displayed. It truly distracts from the history of this palace. Thanks for sharing Chel, and bring back memories. I believe on the grounds there is a knot garden and a folly? Maybe I'll see these in your next post.

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    1. Hi Pamela. Unfortunately we went the other way with the time left after queuing for the tour, and visited the Column of Victory. I think I would re-visit, but just to see the Capability Brown masterpiece of the gardens. xx

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  10. Not been to Blenheim but not tempted by your commentary. Think I'll stick to Chartwell.

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    1. Remember, it's my own personal thoughts, but Chatsworth beats Blenheim by far xx

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  11. As soon as I saw that picture I remembered that place, though our visit was mainly to the garden, and nearly 20 years ago.

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    1. I wish we had concentrated on the garden instead. We only had time to see the Column of Victory and now I wish we had gone to the other side of the building to see the knot garden etc.

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  12. The scale of it is quite impressive but I think I wouldn't like living there. It does feel cold and not very welcoming.

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    1. Yes, it isn't like other grand houses where the atmosphere is warm and welcoming I have to say. Chatsworth will be our Christmas visit again next year! :D x

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  13. When I saw the dining table in the huge hall, my first thought was, "how cold it would be." Your post on Chatsworth at Christmas looked much prettier and more inviting. Blenheim was on our "perhaps" list for last summer and we didn't make it there. I'm thinking we didn't miss too much.
    Looking forward to seeing the outside tour!

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    1. Hi Lorrie, I try to think of the positive when I realise that a place we are visiting is not what I thought it would be, but I really struggled this time. In fact, the following day, I had a massive migraine which I am sure was brought on by the tour and how cramped and trapped I felt. Others may thoroughly enjoy this experience but this has never happened to me before. It didn't feel comfortable. xx

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  14. I'm late to visit Blenheim with you, but given the decoration, it seems I'm right on time!

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