This post is a little delayed, but I wanted to talk about our excursion from this past weekend. Our whole group took the bus to Blenheim Palace and toured the inside of the palace.
The view of Blenheim Palace walking up to the gates.
It was such a beautiful day, and a beautiful location! Blenheim Palace's primary claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Winston Churchill, but the building and family have a long history all of their own. Blenheim Palace is the principal residence of the Duke of Marlborough and was built between 1705 and 1722. The building is situated on expansive grounds near the village of Woodstock.
The day we journeyed to Blenheim and Woodstock was quite cold and as we got out of the city quite windy. To get to the palace you have to go under a covered entry way and are spit out into an enormous courtyard. The building surrounds three sides of the courtyard and the fourth side is enclosed by a gate that looks out over the Column of Victory. You could spend a lot of time just looking around the courtyard, there is so much to see. However, we were there with a mission to see inside the palace so we headed over to the main entrance to take the tour.
These are some shots of the courtyard. As you can see it is incredibly imposing.
Fun fact, we couldn't wear our backpacks on our backs during the tour so we had to wear them over the front of our bodies. It was a pretty great look if I do say so myself. The tour itself was two parts. The first part of the tour took place on the second floor and traced the family history.
The tour itself was an odd mixture of audio-visual, interactive, and just plain weird. There were elements of time travel, and it was confusing in all the worst ways. The "tour" was led by Grace Ridley, lady's maid to the 1st Duchess of Marlborough, and led us through important events in the family's history. I have to admit that the family history was interesting, but it could have been approached in a much different way.
The second part of the tour was self-guided throughout the lower floor. Most of the rooms we toured were State Rooms that had tons of artifacts from previous Dukes and their relationships with other royals. The opulence was pretty intense, but it was a great way to gain a better understanding of the culture surrounding nobles. My favorite part of that tour was the Long Room, which serves as a library. It is huge and full of books, with the added benefit of having an organ at the end of the hall.
Just a glimpse of the books in the Long Room
There was also a series of rooms displaying information and artifacts pertaining to Winston Churchill. I've done a fair amount of research on Churchill so it was really interesting to see how a different culture interacts with the same historical figure. The exhibit seemed to romanticize a lot of his life, but that is totally understandable given that he is arguably the most influential person to come out of Blenheim.
Due to the cold day we were unable to explore the grounds around the palace, but it just inspired all of us to come back at a later date. Perhaps in May when there is a food truck festival! We ended the excursion with a group dinner in Woodstock before taking the bus back into Oxford. It was a lovely day and I am so glad we got to experience the area surrounding the city a bit.
Here is the whole group before we entered the palace gates.
Now for the business portion of this post. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to update the blog given that I will be gone for so long. I'm currently torn between updating every week and updating after an interesting experience. If you have any suggestions or input please leave a comment below to help give me some guidance.