DiCamillo Companion
DiCamillo Griffin Logo

Blenheim Palace (Blenheim House) (Blenheim Castle) (Woodstock Manor)

  • Earlier Houses: Woodstock Manor, a Medieval royal residence that was demolished in 1709, stood near the site of the current house. It was at Woodstock that the eldest son of Edward III, the Black Prince, was born in 1330. Woodstock Manor was also the home of the mistress of Henry II, Rosamund Clifford, who was supposedly poisoned by the king's wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

    Built / Designed For: 1st Duke of Marlborough

    House & Family History: The Churchill surname has had an interesting journey. "Burke's Peerage" gives the family origin as coming from Gitto de Leon, whose son was Wandril de Leon, Lord of Courcil. The name then changed from "de Courcil" to "de Chirchil" and ultimately "Churchill." John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, was a military genius whose victory, as leader of the allied armies, over the troops of Louis XIV at the Battle of Blenheim (or Blindheim) on August 13, 1704 saved Vienna from invasion, gave England one of her greatest victories, ended French dominance of Europe, and saw the Emperor Leopold I create Marlborough a prince of the Holy Roman Empire). In reward for his service, Queen Anne granted Marlborough the royal manor of Woodstock, together with 22,000 acres in Oxfordshire, and agreed that the nation would pay for a great house to be constructed there to honor him (the palace was started in 1705 and completed in 1725 and cost the then-enormous sum of approximately £300,000 [equivalent to approximately £582 million in 2013 values using the labour value commodity index], of which £60,000 came from the Marlboroughs themselves and the balance from the government). The house, which contains 320 rooms and a roof spans seven acres, features, on the south facade a 30-ton marble bust of Louis XIV that was taken by the Duke of Marlborough at Tournai as a trophy. Technically Blenheim is owned by the government and rented to the dukes of Marlborough; thus, the quit-rent standard (a white silk flag with three fleur-de-lys that is a copy of the French standard captured on the Blindheim battlefield) is presented to the sovereign every year on the anniversary of the Battle of Blindheim as "rent" for the palace. Woodstock Manor was a royal hunting lodge that served, among other uses, as a prison during 1554-55 for Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) for her alleged part in the Wyatt plot (the manor was destroyed in 1709 on the orders of the 1st Duchess). Much of the rubble of the manor house was used to fill the foundation for Vanbrugh's grand bridge at Blenheim. Grinling Gibbons performed a large amount of work in stone at Blenheim; his billings came to over £4,000. The great hall is 67 feet high and has ceiling paintings, circa 1716, by Sir James Thornhill showing Marlborough victorious at the Battle of Blenheim. The enormous lock on the door to the great hall was copied from one found on the gates of Warsaw. The saloon, also known as the state dining room, has murals and a painted ceiling by Louis Laguerre. The long library (originally designed by Vanbrugh as a picture gallery) is, at 180 feet, one of the largest country house libraries in Britain and once sported van Dyck's equestrian portrait of Charles I (now in The National Gallery, London). The library's ceiling decoration and stuccowork are by Isaac Mansfield; the 8th Duke installed the Willis organ in 1891. Until it was sold in 1882, the famous Sunderland Library was housed in the long library. The 4th Duke formed the largest collection of ancient gems in Europe (see "Collections" section) and was the first duke to live primarily at Blenheim. The 5th Duke, as Marquess of Blandford, was the first British nobleman to style himself marquess, rather than the French marquis. In November 1896 the 9th Duke famously married the American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, whose millions saved Blenheim (the duke received $2.5 million in railroad stock from the bride's family, worth approximately $335 million in 2013 values using the labor value commodity index). In 1906 the 9th Duke and Duchess separated (it was an arranged marriage and neither ever loved the other); they were divorced in 1921. In the 1890s the 9th Duke presided over an enormous staff at Blenheim: the inside staff was about 40, while the outside staff numbered 50, including a game-keeping staff of 12, electricians, carpenters, flower arrangers, lodge keepers, a cricket professional, a night watchman, and a dairy maid and dairyman. The lodge keepers were dressed in black coats with sliver buttons and buff breeches and wore a cockaded top hat and carried a long staff, while the gamekeepers were turned out in green velvet coats with brass buttons and black billycock hats. In 1921, after his divorce from Consuelo was final, the 9th Duke married Gladys (pronounced GLAY-dus) Deacon, an American from Boston with a glittering background. Gladys was the toast of Paris, a frequent visitor at I Tatti, the Italian villa of Bernard Berenson (who also sought to marry her), and a close friend of Rodin and Degas. She had a famous dalliance with the crown prince of Germany in 1901 when both were staying at Blenheim (Gladys was a friend of Consuelo's). In 1931 the 9th Duke and Gladys separated, with Gladys moving from one place to another, living in virtual poverty until her demise in 1977 in an English psycho-geriatric hospital. At her death, Gladys was the widow of the 9th Duke, as they had never been divorced. Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim, proposed marriage here (at the Temple of Diana on August 11, 1908), and is buried nearby at Bladon Church. During World War I the long library became a service hospital for wounded servicemen. The Second World War brought 400 boys from Malvern College to the palace and utility huts to the great court. After the boys from Malvern College were moved out MI5 moved in; the domestic security service employed up to 1,000 people at Blenheim during the war. The British Council and the Ministry of Supply were also setup at Blenheim during World War II. The first guidebook for the palace was printed in 1787, and in 1802 Admiral Lord Nelson arrived to tour the palace with Lady Hamilton, beginning a long tradition of visitors at Blenheim. In April 1950 the doors of Blenheim were opened to the paying public, with the price for admission set at half-a-crown. In 1987 the palace and park together were declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

    Collections: A famous collection of Meissen, presented to the 3rd Duke of Marlborough by the king of Poland in exchange for a pack of staghounds, is on display today at Blenheim. The red drawing room contains the famous circa 1778 portrait of the 4th Duke (1739-1817) and his family by Joshua Reynolds. In the portrait the duke is shown in garter robes grasping a gem from the collection of the Marlborough Gems, while his son and heir, the Marquess of Blandford (later the 5th Duke), is depicted holding one of the 10 red Morocco leather cases lined with green velvet in which the gems were kept (these cases were kept in the duke's dressing room for his private delectation). The red drawing room (whose chimneypiece contains a carving by Joseph Wilton inspired by "The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche") also contains the equally famous portrait of the 9th Duke and his family (with his first wife, the former Consuelo Vanderbilt) by John Singer Sargent. The Marlborough Gems, the most famous collection of cameos and intaglios in Britain, was formed by the 4th Duke in the second half of the 18th century; by the time of the duke's death in 1817 the collection numbered over 800 pieces, making it, by most accounts, the finest private collection of gems in Europe. One third of the collection was the Renaissance collection of the Gonzaga family, dukes of Mantua (15th-16th centuries), acquired by Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), in the mid-17th century; one third was the mid-18th century collection of the 2nd Earl of Bessborough (incorporating the collections of the earls of Chesterfield and others); and one third was from the duke's own collecting in Italy and elsewhere. The 14th Earl of Arundel was one of the greatest collectors of his age and formed his collection during the reign of Charles I; it was among the first collections in England of antique gems and marbles (far larger than that of the king's). Lord Bessborough formed his collection at the instigation of his wife, a Cavendish from Chatsworth; after her death Lord Bessborough sold the collection for £5,000 to the 4th Duke of Marlborough. The 4th Duke started collecting ancient gems in 1761; in 1762, through a family arrangement, the duke acquired the famous Arundel gems, which had passed to his sister-in-law (the British Museum turned down an offer to purchase the Arundel gems for £10,000 in 1755). The collecting of antique gems in Britain reached such an intense and competitive level in the 18th century that the French gem expert P.J. Mariette, writing in "Traité des Pierres Gravées" in the 1750s, said "nowhere is more love shown for classical gems" [than in England]. The 4th Duke, however, was not just a collector of ancient gems, he also patronized modern gems cutters such as Burch, Marchant, Natter, and Pichler. The best of the duke's collection was published in two volumes as "Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus" circa 1780 and 1791, with texts in Latin and French. The Marlborough collection of gems included the 1st century BC "The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche" (also called "The Nuptials of Eros and Psyche," "Scene of Religious Initiation," "Cameo with the Wedding of Cupid and Psyche," "The Marlborough Cameo," and "The Marlborough Gem;" see "Images" section). Probably the most famous piece in the Marlborough collection, the carved onyx cameo is, unusually, signed by its maker. Minutely incised into the black background of the stone are the words "Tryphon made it" in ancient Greek. This cameo was one of the prized possessions of the artist Peter Paul Rubens (who said that he loved gems beyond all other relics of antiquity), who gave it to his friend, the 14th Earl of Arundel. Josiah Wedgwood reproduced "The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche" frequently in Jasperware, thus raising the cameo to new heights of fame. The image was so popular that it was reproduced in many media, appearing on beds and mantelpieces, among other decorative arts. The 7th Duke sold "The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche," together with the other Marlborough Gems, in one lot at Christie's in 1875 for £10,000. The collection went to David Bromilow of Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire; Bromilow's daughter subsequently sold the collection at a Christie's auction June 26-29, 1899 in London. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, purchased 19 of the Marlborough gems at the 1899 auction (including "The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche" and a 1st century Roman sardonyx cameo of Apollo—see "Images" section), where they remain today in its collection. In the collection of the British Museum today is a very large Roman onyx cameo of circa 35-50 AD (one of only five large cameos to survive from antiquity) depicting two members of the imperial family as Jupiter Ammon and Juno or Isis; this cameo was formerly in the collection of the 4th Duke. The magnificent black shard chalcedony cameo of Antinous, made circa 130-138 AD (also referred to, confusingly, as "The Marlborough Gem"), is possibly the most accurate image known of the famous lover of the Emperor Hadrian. Marguerite Yourcenar on the sardonyx: "Of all the objects still present today on the surface of the earth, this is the only one of which we may assume with some certitude that it has often been held in the hands of Hadrian." This gem (which was later set in a gold setting) was in the Marlborough collection from 1761 until 1875, when it too was sold with the other Marlborough Gems. The Antinous gem was sold again in 1899, 1909, 1952, and in 1999, when it landed in a private English collection. On April 29, 2019 the Antinous gem was sold again—this time at auction by Christie's in New York for $2.1 million, against an estimate of $300,000-500,000. In December 2004 Christie's auctioned "The Marlborough Cameo," a 1st century AD Roman onyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Claudius; this cameo was also originally part of the gems assembled by the 4th Duke. A 1st century AD cameo of Augustus wearing the rayed crown of the sun god is today in the collection of the Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne. It is very likely that this is the gem that the 4th Duke is holding in the famous Reynolds portrait of his family. A circa 41-54 AD Roman onyx cameo of Claudius once in the collection of the 4th Duke sold at Christie's New York on December 9, 2004 for $321,100, against an estimate of $300,000-500,000. An early 1st century AD Roman sardonyx cameo bust of a Julio-Claudian prince, once in the collection of the 2nd Earl of Bessborough and later in the collection of the 4th Duke, was sold by Christie's New York on April 29, 2019 for $350,000, against an estimate of $150,000-250,000. The high relief cameo is set in a later openwork gold mount that is set with a peridot, garnets, and amethysts. A sky blue sapphire ring (a hololith) that features an intaglio of Caesonia, the fourth wife of Caligula, came up for sale in September of 2019 at the London dealer Wartski. Supposedly priced at £500,000, the ring, which was likely the properly of the emperor himself, was owned by 14th Earl of Arundel from 1637 until 1762, after which it entered the Marlborough collection. A circa 130 AD Roman carnelian cameo ring with a portrait of the Empress Sabina once owned by the 4th Duke was sold June 2-16, 2020 by Christie's for $250,000, against an estimate of $10,000-15,000. In December 2008 Bonham's auctioned a 1.25" x 1" oval citrine cameo carved with a bust of Philip II of Spain for £62,400; this gem was originally part of the Marlborough Gems and was last seen in 1919, after which it disappeared, until it came up for auction in 2008. The cameo also may have once been in the ownership of the 14th Earl of Arundel. Lending credence to this theory is fact that Lord Arundel's father, Philip (born 1557), became a godson of Philip II when Philip, as the husband of Mary Tudor, was also the king of England. Following this reasoning, it is very possible that Philip would have presented to the infant an image of himself during the baby's christening at the Chapel Royal in Whitehall. A chalcedony, pearl, gold, enamel, diamond, and ruby pedant with the head of Medusa (see "Images" section), purchased in 1923 by Joseph E. Widener of Philadelphia, probably as 16th century Italian, is today in the Widener Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Though it's clear today that the jewel was made circa 1885-90 by the French jeweler Alfred Andre, about 10 years after the famous Marlborough Gems had been sold, it has been asserted that this pendant had once been in the great collection of gems at Blenheim Palace. The Beazley Archive of Classical Art at the University of Oxford has begun a project to reconstruct the original appearance of the Marlborough gem collection. The collection was cataloged in the mid-19th century by Professor Mervyn Herbert Neville Story-Maskelyne for the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Story-Maskelyne published "The Marlborough Gems" in London in 1890 and made electrotype casts of all the cameos and sealing wax impressions of the intaglios (this collection of reproductions, having passed into the hands of Sir John Beazley, is today in the Beazley Archive at Oxford). The results of the project can be found online at www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/carc/Home. As of February 2008, there are still more than 500 gems from the Marlborough collection to be located. In 2009 Oxford University Press published "The Marlborough Gems Formerly at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire," a publication that documents in full color all material available from the Beazley Archive at Oxford. The Marlborough Ice Pails, a pair of solid 22-karat gold ice pails, cylindrical in shape with lion mask handles, were made for the 1st Duke of Marlborough and sold by the 8th Earl Spencer to the British Museum in 1982. The two pails together weigh approximately 25 pounds (365 ozs 6 dwts Troy) and are the only surviving English examples made of pure gold. They are very likely unique, as no other gold ice pails from the late 17th or early 18th centuries are documented in Britain or abroad. As is generally found with English gold plate of the period, the pails were not hallmarked and carry no date letter; however, it is extremely likely they were made in London circa 1700, probably by a Huguenot goldsmith (Huguenot craftsmen were noted for their work in gold plate). David Willaume is frequently mentioned as a possible maker; he was a Huguenot working in London at the right time and he made the earliest known pair of ice pails: in silver in 1698 for the 1st Duke of Devonshire. Upon her death in 1744 at the age of 85, Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough, one of the richest women in Europe, left the ice pails, together with much else, to her favorite grandson, John Spencer (1708-46). The ice pails remained at the Spencer seat, Althorp in Northamptonshire, where they descended upon the earls Spencer in direct succession until the sale in 1982 by the 8th Earl. The 5th Duke of Marlborough, as Marquess of Blandford, purchased, on June 17, 1812 for £2,260 (worth approximately £1.7 million in 2016 inflation-adjusted values using the labour value commodity index), a first edition of Boccaccio's "Decameron," printed by Christophorus Valdarfer of Venice in 1471. The purchase was made at the sale of the library of the 5th Duke of Roxburghe and was the highest price ever paid for a book at the time. The dispersal of the Roxburghe library was the spark for the formation of the famous Roxburghe Club, a gathering of aristocratic bibliophiles, headed by the marquess (still considered, in the early 21st century, one of the most exclusive clubs in the world). The 5th Duke was a spendthrift who was forced to sell his house, White Knights, and his famous library, with 4,071 lots fetching under £14,500 (the Boccaccio was purchased by his cousin, the 2nd Earl Spencer, for only 875 guineas). It was also the 5th Duke who changed the family name, by royal license, to Spencer-Churchill in 1817 (it had previously been Spencer). The 7th Duke faced large financial problems, some of which were alleviated by an Act of Parliament, the Blenheim Settled Estates Act of 1880, which broke the entail on the Blenheim Estate and enabled priceless Marlborough heirlooms to be sold. As a result of this act, the tremendous Sunderland Library went under the gavel during 1881 and 1882, its 18,000 volumes garnering nearly £60,000. The sales continued, with Raphael's "Ansidei Madonna" going for £70,000 and van Dyck's equestrian painting of Charles I fetching £17,500; both are now in The National Gallery, London. The great painting by Peter Paul Rubens, "Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment, and Their Son Peter Paul," was given by the city of Brussels to the 1st Duke of Marlborough in 1704; it remained at Blenheim until the famous sale of 1884, when it was purchased by Baron Alphonse de Rothschild. In 1975 it left the Rothschild collection and entered the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, who gave it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1981, in whose collection it remains today. A white Carrara marble statue of "Glory" by Giovanni Baratta, originally made for the 1st Duke of Marlborough in Florence in 1715 (though never taken delivery of by him and installed at Blenheim, as was intended), was purchased by the 1st Duke of Chandos in 1721 and was in the collection at Canons later that year (it is in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, today; see photo in "Images" section). The statue was one of a pair made for Marlborough; its mate, "Fame," or "Valour," was known to be in the collection at Ditton Park in the 18th century; its location is unknown today. In 2016 an antiquities scholar was walking the gardens at Blenheim when he came across an unusual flower pot blooming with tulips, which he recognized as an ancient marble Roman sarcophagus. It turned out to be a piece of the front of a sarcophagus, but still substantial: the fragment weighs approximately 550 pounds, is six feet long, two-and-a-half feet high, and six inches thick. The circa 2nd century AD fragment has a carved, high relief Dionysian theme, which guaranteed its occupant a happy, drunken state in the afterlife. There are no indications of who the sarcophagus was made for, or who sculpted it, but it comes from a period when Romans of high status, for whom this was most assuredly made, were moving away from cremation and toward interring bodies in sarcophagi and mausolea. The sarcophagus came to Blenheim in the 19th century, during the reign of the 5th Duke of Marlborough, and was initially used to collect water from a spring near the great lake. In the early 20th century it was moved to the rock garden, probably as part of the reinstallation of the gardens by Sunny, the 9th Duke, where it was used in various capacities until it was rediscovered in 2016. The sarcophagus was conserved and is now on display inside the palace, where it will remain. The curtains in the octagon room at Basildon Park were originally installed at Blenheim.

    Comments: Blenheim is considered one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture in existence and is listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site. Winston Churchill once described Blenheim as "an Italian palace in an English park." Volatiare, after visiting Blenheim, said of it: "What a great heap of stone, without charm or taste." In April 1786 John Adams, later second president of the United States, visited Blenheim and other houses in the area. After his visits he wrote in his diary "Stowe, Hagley, and Blenheim, are superb; Woburn, Caversham, and the Leasowes are beautiful. Wotton is both great and elegant, though neglected."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The original dry stone wall of Woodstock Park is said to have been the first park wall built in England. The wall was here before Blenheim was built and was between eight and nine miles long; it was restored in 1729. Lancelot ''Capability'' Brown landscaped the park in 1764 for the 4th Duke. The grand bridge, designed by Vanbrugh, contains a number of rooms, some of which have fireplaces and chimneys. The oldest thing at Blenheim is Rosamond's Well, the spring that never runs dry, known to Rosamond Clifford, Henry II's lover. The triumphal arch, designed by Hawksmoor and erected in 1723, was probably based on the Arch of Titus. The column of victory was completed in 1730 at a cost of £3,000 (equivalent to approximately £400,000 in 2011 inflation-adjusted values using the retail price index). It stands 134 feet high and was designed by Lord Herbert (the "Architect Earl" of Pembroke) and his assistant, Roger Morris. The grounds contain a number of lodges: high, north, Springlock, Hanborough, and Lince Lodge. In 1707 Henry Wise created the great parterre (now destroyed) that stretched for half a mile from the south facade of the house. The 5th Duke, when he succeeded in 1817, said he would create "the finest botanical and flower garden in England." He made the Botany Bay Garden, the dahlia garden, and the Chinese Garden. He also created the Druid's Temple and the Swiss Cottage. In an attempt to restore the original formality that Capability Brown had swept away, the 9th Duke (using Vanderbilt millions) installed the water terraces and the Italian Garden with the help of the French landscape architect Achille Duchêne, who was a disciple of Louis XIV's great landscaper, Le Nôtre. The work they created (the duke also helped in the design) was very much a sort of parterre d'eau a la Versailles, though the terraces ended up more Italian in style than French. The second terrace is crowned by Bernini's fountain (a miniature version of the river gods fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome), which was given to the 1st Duke by the Papal Nuncio. Gladys, the 9th Duke's second wife, features in the second terrace, where her facial features are reproduced on the heads of the two lead sphinxes. The 9th Duke also, between 1893 and 1919, planted 465,000 trees in the park. The Marlborough Maze, the world's largest symbolic hedge maze, was planted in 1988 and opened to the public in 1991. The Blenheim Estate today comprises 11,500 acres, of which 5,500 acres is let to 20 tenant farmers and 3,900 acres (including the park of 2,400 acres) are farmed by the Blenheim Estate. There are also 1,550 acres of woodland and 128 cottages and houses on the estate. In addition, the Bear Hotel in Woodstock is owned by the Blenheim Estate.

    Chapel & Church: The chapel has a tremendous tomb for the 1st Duke, designed by William Kent and executed by Rysbrack for the then-enormous sum of £2,200. The 1st Duke was originally buried in Westminster Abbey, but was reinterred in the Blenheim Chapel in 1744, when his duchess died.

  • Architect: William Kent

    Date: 1733
    Designed: Monument to the 1st Duke of Marlborough in the Chapel; sculpted by Rysbrack.

    View all houses

    Architect: Henry Wise

    Date: Circa 1707
    Designed: Great Parterre to south of the House (destroyed)

    View all houses

    Architect: William Oldham Chambers

    Date: 1770s
    Designed: Temple of Diana, New Bridge for 4th Duke. Lion heads, wreaths, and laurels on East Gate.

    View all houses

    Architect: Roger Morris

    Date: Circa 1730
    Designed: Assisted Herbert in the design of the Column of Victory

    View all houses

    Architect: Henry Herbert (Pembroke and Montgomery)

    Date: Circa 1730
    Designed: Column of Victory

    View all houses

    Architect: Achille Duchêne

    Date: Early 20th century
    Designed: Water Terraces and Italian Garden for the 9th Duke

    View all houses

    Architect: Nicholas Hawksmoor

    Date: 1705-25
    Designed: Finished House after Vanbrugh was dismissed; designed Triumphal Gateway and Green Drawing Room ceiling, all for Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.

    View all houses

    Architect: John Vanbrugh

    Date: 1705-22
    Designed: House and Grand Bridge

    View all houses

    Architect: Lancelot Brown

    Date: 1764
    Designed: Relandscaped Park and created Grand Cascade for 4th Duke

    View all houses

    Architect: Thomas Allason

    Date: 1841
    Designed: Repaired House for 6th Duke of Marlborough

    View all houses
  • Vitruvius Britannicus: C. I, pls. 55-62, 1715. C. III, pls. 71, 72, 1725.

    John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 113, 1853.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. III, 1820.

    Country Life: CVIXXV, 786, 834. LIX, 424. LXIII, 655. CV, 1182, 1246. CVII, 648, 1022. CIX, 1184. CXXIV, 1400, corr. CXXXI, 1184. CXXXVI, 227. CXLIX, 26. CLVII, 198, 262, gardens. V, 688, 720. XXV, 786, 834. CIII, 81. CVII, 1648. CX, 268. CXLI, 445. CLXI, 867.

  • Title: Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century
    Author: Sloan, Kim; Burnett, Andrew (Editors)
    Year Published: 2003
    Reference: pg. 132
    Publisher: Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books
    ISBN: 158834164X
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Country Life (magazine)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Jan 21, 2009, pg. 70
    Publisher: London: Future plc
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Magazine

    Title: Apollo (magazine)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Feb 2008, pgs. 58, 59, 61
    Publisher: London: Apollo Magazine Ltd.
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Magazine

    Title: Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932, The
    Author: Manchester, William
    Year Published: 1983
    Reference: pg. 85
    Publisher: Boston: Little, Brown and Company
    ISBN: 0316058130
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: William Kent: Architect, Designer, Opportunist
    Author: Mowl, Timothy
    Year Published: 2006
    Reference: photo section
    Publisher: London: Jonathan Cape
    ISBN: 0224073508
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Devonshire Inheritance: Five Centuries of Collecting at Chatsworth, The
    Author: Barker, Nicholas
    Year Published: 2003
    Reference: pg. 66
    Publisher: Virginia: Art Services International
    ISBN: 0883971380
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, The
    Author: Howard, Kathleen (Editor)
    Year Published: 1983
    Reference: pg. 146
    Publisher: New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    ISBN: 0870993461
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Beloved and God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous
    Author: Lambert, Royston
    Year Published: 1997
    Reference: pgs. 11, 53, 242
    Publisher: London: Phoenix
    ISBN: 1857999444
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Pleasures of Antiquity: British Collectors of Greece and Rome, The
    Author: Scott, Jonathan
    Year Published: 2003
    Reference: pgs. 112-113
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300098545
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Blenheim Revisited: The Spencer-Churchills and their Palace
    Author: Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pgs. 50, 51, 72, 76, 93, 96, 97, 105, 106, 107, 116, 121, 125, 126, 127, 132, 152, 153, 156, 168, 178, 224, 246
    Publisher: New York: Beaufort Books
    ISBN: 0825302978
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Treasures of the British Museum
    Author: Caygill, Marjorie
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pgs. 172, 174
    Publisher: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0810916878
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Movie Locations: A Guide to Britain & Ireland
    Author: Adams, Mark
    Year Published: 2000
    Reference: pg. 48
    Publisher: London: Boxtree
    ISBN: 0752271695
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Country Life Cumulative Index: Volumes I to CXCIII to December 1999
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 2000
    Publisher: London: IPC Magazines Limited
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: Blenheim Palace Guidebook - 1996
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 1996
    Reference: pgs. 5, 9, 10, 11, 14, 18, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28, 37, 41, 43, 44, 48, 50, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 64
    Publisher: Norfolk: Jarrold Publishing
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade I

  • "Songs of Praise" (1961 - TV series). "The Secret of My Success" (1965). "Half a Sixpence" (1967). "Diamonds for Breakfast" (1968). "The First Churchills" (1969 - TV mini series). "Civilisation" (1969 - BBC TV mini series, episode 10, "The Smile of Reason"). "Young Winston" (1972). "The Legend of Hell House" (1973). "Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill" (1974 - TV mini series). "Barry Lyndon" (1975). "Miss Morrison's Ghosts" (1981 - TV movie). "History of the World: Part I" (1981 - as the grounds of Versailles in the 18th century). "Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years" (1981 - TV mini series). "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (1982 - TV movie, as exterior shots of Paris). "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" (1984 - as Greystoke Castle). "Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: Nemesis" (1987 - TV series). "Without a Clue" (1988). "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989). "King Ralph" (1991 - as interiors of Buckingham Palace [Blenheim's Library] and exterior where game of cricket is played). "Orlando" (1992). "Black Beauty" (1994 - as Lord Wexmire's estate). "Restoration" (1995). "Hamlet" (1996 - in which the 11th Duke of Marlborough played a bit part). "The Avengers" (1998 - as exterior of Hallucinogen House). "Entrapment" (1999). "Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island" (1999 - TV mini series). "A History of Britain" (2000 - TV documentary series). "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…" (2001). "Just Visiting" (2001). "The Four Feathers" (2002). "The Lost Prince" (2003 - TV movie, as Buckingham Palace courtyard, passage, and cloakroom). "The Libertine" (2004). "Great British Commanders" (2005 - TV documentary by Major Gordon Corrigan, episode 5, "Marlborough"). "Buildings That Shaped Britain" (2006 - TV documentary series by Simon Thurley, episode 6, "Countryside Revolution"). "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007). "Inspector Lewis" (2009 - TV series, Season 2, Episode 7, "The Point of Vanishing"). "The Young Victoria" (2009 - as exteriors for Buckingham Palace and King Leopold's palace). "Gulliver's Travels" (2010). "Eve" (2013 - short film). "A Little Chaos" (2014). "The Amazing Race" (2014 - TV series, in the episodes "Get Your Sheep Together" and "When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go"). "A Little Chaos" (2014 - for the bridge and lake scenes at Versailles). "Cinderella" (2015 - as the palace). "Mission: Impossible 5" (2015). "The Royals" (2015 - TV series, as exterior and interiors of the palace). "Spectre" (2015 - as the location for the beginning of the Rome car chase). "The BFG" (2016). "Transformers: The Last Knight" (2017). "Dolittle" (2020 - as Buckingham Palace). "Cinderella" (2021 - as the library). "Napoleon" (2023). "Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story" (2023 - TV mini series). "Bridgerton" (2024 - TV series).
  • Current Seat / Home of: Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough; Spencer-Churchill family here since 1709.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1709-22; Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough, 1722-33; Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, 1733-58; George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough, 1758-1817; George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough, 1817-40; George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough, 1840-57; John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, 1857-83; George Charles Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough, 1883-92; Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, 1892-1934; John Albert William Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough, 1934-72; John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough, 1972-2014.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01993-811-091

    Fax: 01993-813-527

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.blenheimpalace.com/

    Awards: Blenheim is listed by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, the only private house in Britain to be so listed. Sandford Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Heritage Education, 1983. HHA/Christie's Garden of the Year Award 2008.

    Historic Houses Member: Yes


Help preserve Britain’s privately owned country houses by joining Historic Houses. Use code DICAM7 for a £7 discount off a new membership that will give you access to hundreds of historic houses.

Join Now