One of many outdoor clocks at Blenheim Palace, this one overlooking the Italian Garden at the rear of the house.
There are lots of clocks at Blenheim Palace. Some are on the outside of the palace; many more are on the inside. What struck me during my visit today was that all of them were correct—an amazing feat, since last night, all clocks went forward an hour as Europe switched to Daylight Savings Time. I guess when you're the Duke of Marlborough you have no problem finding someone to change all the clocks in your home, even if your home, covering seven acres, is larger than most villages.
Unlike other palaces, Blenheim Palace is not a royal residence. It was built by a grateful nation to honor John Churchill for his victory in the War of Spanish Secession, which saved Europe from the clutches of the evil Sun King, Louis XIV. Only problem was, Queen Anne got pissed off at Churchill's wife, Sarah, who'd been her favorite, halfway through the building and cut off funding for the construction of Blenheim. Fortunately it was too late to take back the dukedom she'd granted Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough.
Interestingly, his oldest daughter Henrietta inherited the dukedom after his death, as his two sons had previously died. She became Duchess, and after her death, the dukedom went to her nephew Charles, the grandson of John Churchill. He was the ancestor of Winston Churchill while his brother John was the ancestor of Princess Diana and her brother, Earl Spencer.
Although I can't show you any photos of the inside of the palace, it's pretty fabulous, in an early-18th century way. Much of the furnishings were paid for, however, by an American, the 9th Duchess, Consuela Vanderbilt, whose fortune bought back much of the wealth that had been sold in the 19th century.
If the palace looks vaguely familiar, perhaps you've seen it in the film The Young Victoria. Its front forecourt doubled as Buckingham Palace while the library played the part of Prince Albert's uncle's palace in Belgium. This was indeed a timely visit, as the exhibit on the film, currently on display in the library, ends on March 31.
Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located about 20 minutes northwest of Oxford, on the A44 (about an hour and a half from London). You can tour the palace, or simply walk the grounds, which allow dogs on leads. The grounds and gardens were designed by Capability Brown, one of England's great landscape artists.
More photos below.