On our April day out members were free to explore the beautiful Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, where Winston Churchill was born into the family of the Dukes of Marlborough, writes Wendy Martin
After a coffee break on arrival at the beautiful Blenheim Palace near Oxford the group split and we were able to wander at will through the place where Winston Churchill was born in 1874 and where he spent a lot of his time as a child and an adult. One of his hobbies was painting, and he drew inspiration from the architecture of the palace and views of the estate.
When Winston was a child the palace was lit with gas until Winston’s uncle, the eighth Duke of Marlborough, had electric lighting and central heating installed. However, the family and guests still commented that the palace was very cold in winter.
Optional tours of the palace took place every half-hour. Particularly interesting was the room where Churchill was born. An exciting exhibition looked at the clothes, underclothes, shoes and accessories which would have been worn by some of the colourful characters in the palace’s 300-year history. There were also photographs of Churchill at various stages of his life including his marriage on 12 September 1908 to Clementine Hozier.
The Red Drawing Room housed the family billiard table, and in the 1890s it functioned more like a gentlemen’s gaming room.
Winston was very proud of his ancestors and spent a lot of time (1933-38) researching their military careers in the archives at Blenheim. His biography of the first Duke of Marlborough was so detailed it was published in four volumes.
We arrived back in Dorking at 6.15-ish after a lovely day efficiently arranged by Jean Williams.