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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Blenheim Palace Outing

Thursday was a really hot day. We had planned to have at least one day out, visiting somewhere interesting. We have a lot of choice, as members of the National Trust and H.H.A. (Historic Houses Association.) Carol has said she wants to visit Chatsworth in Derbyshire, so we had a look at their website. This house isn't included in the H.H.A. handbook as having free entry to their members so it seemed that Blenheim Palace would be a better choice. Not only with free entry, but nowhere near as far to drive as it's just outside Oxford and perhaps around an hour's journey. We have been there before, but it was probably six-seven years ago. As H.H.A. members you are only supposed to visit a property once a year as I imagine it would reduce their income. A single entry to Blenheim is around £25 so that would be a £50 layout for the two of us.

Entrance to Blenheim Palace

We discovered on the Blenheim Palace website that there was going to be a triathlon in the park and that, as a result, some areas of the park and the Palace itself, would be restricted. No problem, we thought. On arrival we had to park in a somewhat inappropriate grass field, serving as temporary parking, but never mind. We then had to walk a considerable distance to the Palace, somewhere in the region of half a mile or more. Again, no problem as we needed the exercise. The last time we visited we did the guided tour of the house. I recall it was extremely well done, with a very knowledgeable guide who gave a lot of information about the Palace's history, which included the building of it and quite a bit on Sir Winston Churchill, who was born and raised there. Coincidentally, I am reading Peter Ackroyd's book, "Revolution," which is the fourth book in his series on the history of England and covers the 'Glorious Revolution' and the Battle of Blenheim which is where the Duke of Marlborough scored a mighty victory over the French and was then given Blenheim as a reward by Queen Anne. So, it was quite interesting to have the background so well recorded in this book and to then see the actual place in all it's magnificence. As we'd already seen the interior of Blenheim before, regardless of it's amazing scale, design and size, we decided against it. We didn't see much of the park, so this time we decided to discover what there was beyond the confines of the main building. We'd seen the Italianate gardens on our previous visit, but on this occasion we walked down towards the lake and began our tour of the grounds.

One of a number of classical-style statues in the Great 
Court at Blenheim

It was a really pleasant amble along the side of the lake. Looking back, you could just see the tower of the main palace building and a small boat house on the edge of the lake. It was quite a steep incline down and there was work going on to repair and restore the path. There was a warning sign set up warning those in wheelchairs or pushing children in buggies that it was dangerous to use this path. I can see why, because if you were pushing a child in a pram or buggy or someone was in a wheelchair there was a danger of it running away and landing up in the lake. We walked on, and at several places along the lake we stopped to take photographs of not only the view but a whole variety of flora. We eventually arrived at what is called the Grand Cascade. I knew there was a cascade at Blenheim, but I imagined it to be quite a gentle slope. This was more like a fairly active and fast-flowing torrent and amazingly there were a couple of ducks in the flowing water. It was a wonder they didn't get washed down into the river below.

The Grand Cascade, although from this shot you get no 
idea of it's size and scale

We continued on our walk, and eventually came to a small garden which was designed as a memorial to Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim Palace. In the centre there was a large and very impressive bust of the great man.

Bust of Winston Churchill

By this time we'd walked a considerable distance. A good two miles by my reckoning. We had a look around the shop, which was part of the new development along with the restaurant. I bought a guidebook, to add to my by now considerable collection of similar guidebooks, bought at other properties we've visited. We took a few more photographs as we walked to the exit and the amble back to the car in the field and to drive home towards Milton Keynes.
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