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Blenheim Palace - Fountain - 1993 | by ell brown
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Blenheim Palace - Fountain - 1993

Scans of my really old photos of Blenheim Palace from the early 1990s. Think it might have been in the summer of 1993 (I simply can't remember when it was). I was aged between 9 and 11 at the time possibly.

 

Taken on a compact film camera (no digital back then and no screen to see how it came out).

 

A fountain near the back of the palace.

 

All I remember about the place is that it was the birthplace of Winston Churchill and ancestral home of his family. Constructed for John Churchill, between 1705 and 1724. It is a monumental country house in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title "palace".

 

Its construction was originally intended to be a gift to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough from a grateful nation in return for military triumph against the French and Bavarians at the Battle of Blenheim. However, it soon became the subject of political infighting, which led to Marlborough's exile, the fall from power of his Duchess, and irreparable damage to the reputation of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh. Designed in the rare, and short-lived, English baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s.[1] It is unique in its combined usage as a family home, mausoleum and national monument. The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

 

It is a Grade I listed building.

 

Country house. 1706-29, by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor for the Duke

and Duchess of Marlborough; carvings by Grinling Gibbons and interiors by

Laguerre, Thornhill et. al. Limestone ashlar, with rusticated corner towers and

details; lead roofs; stone stacks. House has 4 corner towers, and Great Court to

north flanked by Stable Court to east and Kitchen Court to west. Baroque style.

Two storeys. Sashes to all windows. North front has central 9-bay facade,

articulated by giant order of Corinthian pilasters; 3-bay pedimented portico;

carving of the Marlborough Arms in tympanum, figures of Britannia and chained

slaves on pediment and centurions on parapet by Grinling Gibbons; huge cleft

open pediment set behind portico, with clerestory windows to Hall ranged to

rear. Quadrants, articulated by Doric engaged columns, link facade to corner

towers which have banded rustication, arched windows and bracketed cornices;

superstructure to each tower has curved flying buttresses and pinnacles of

reversed fleurs-de-lys, piled-up cannon balls and ducal coronets. Colonnades,

with engaged Doric columns and carved military achievements by Gibbons, are

linked to 11 bay blocks: rusticated archways, in centre of each block and

leading to Kitchen and Stable Courts, are flanked by banded Doric columns and

surmounted by carvings of the Lion of England savaging the Cock of France. Clock

towers behind each archway have interlocking pediments with ball finial. 7-bay

end blocks have rusticated Doric pilasters to pedimented centre of north

facades. East and west fronts each have central full-height bow windows, with

caryatids to west, and similar corner towers to south. South front has tall

9-bay facade to centre, articulated by giant order of Corinthian pilasters

progressing to columns in central portico: entablature of portico surmounted by

bust of Louis XIV, taken from the city gates of Tournai after its sack in 1709.

Roof has finials and military carvings by Grinling Gibbons. Kitchen Court to

west: castellated parapet, and arcaded to north and south with heavy

open-pedimented Doric porches; east gateway, which houses water cistern, has

obelisk-shaped pillars resting on cannon balls flanking cast-iron gates of

c.1890 and garlands and statues in niches by Sir William Chambers, 1766-75.

Orangery to south of Kitchen Court has arcaded front with sashes and heavy Doric

porch of 2 orders with open pediment. Great Court in front of palace remodelled.

by Achille Duchene in 1910: military trophies, flanking steps in front of

portico, carved by Grinling Gibbons; low ashlar walls surrounding Great Court

have piers with wheatear festoons over medallions, and flaming urns to piers in

angles of south-east and south-west corners; wrought-iron gates to front,

flanked by scrolled ironwork panels. Interior: Great Hall, with 3-tier arcades

and Corinthian columns and cornices carved by Grinling Gibbons, has ceiling

painted by Sir James Thornhill in 1716 which shows Marlborough presenting plan

of Battle of Blenheim to Britannia. Vaulted stone corridors link Great Hall to

east and west wings. Stairs to left of Great Hall has iron balustrade continued

in front of gallery above proscenium arch, with arms of Queen Anne carved by

Gibbons, which leads from Hall to Saloon to rear. Saloon: marble fireplace by

Townesend; marble doorcases with carved shells to keys by Grinling Gibbons;

walls and ceiling decorated 1719-20 by Louis Laguerre. Suite of 3 rooms to left

(east) have plasterwork ceilings by Hawksmoor, and marble fireplaces by Sir

William Chambers; scrolls, eagles and phoenixes in coving of ceilings of c.1890,

Suite of 3 State Rooms to right, (west) of Saloon have tapestries by Judocus de

Vos depicting Marlborough's victories, the remainder of the set being elsewhere

in the house: fireplaces by Gibbons and Chambers; Rococo decoration of c.1890,

with inset portraits set in gilt frames; First State Room has portrait of 9th

Duchess by Duran, Second State Room has portrait of Louis XIV by Mignard and

Third State Room has portrait of Colonel Armstrong with Marlborough by Seeman.

All set in overmantles over fireplaces. The Long Library, "Hawksmoor's finest

room", has plasterwork by Isaac Mansfield and marble doorcases and giant order

of Doric pilasters with triglyph frieze by Peisley and Townesend; carved wood

bookcases; marble fireplaces, by Hawksmoor or William Kent, have pedimented

overmantels framing paintings of seascape and landscape by Wootton after Poussin

and Ore surmounted by busts by Rysbrack. Statue of Queen Anne and bust of

Marlborough by Rysbrack, the latter on pedestal by Chambers. At ends of Long

Library are galleried bays, with consoles supporting pierced balustrades; organ

of 1871 to north bay. Corridor to Great Hall has marble basin, probably by

Vanbrugh. Private Apartments in East Wing not inspected: central Bow Window Room

has wood Corinthian columns and marble fireplace by Gibbons; fireplaces by

Chambers in Grand Cabinet and Duchess's Drawing Room. Basement noted as having

fireplaces by Gibbons. Chapel: by Hawksmoor, with giant fluted pilasters and

plasterwork. Monument to Duke of Marlborough, 1733, designed by William Kent and

executed by Rysbrack: Baroque figure composition set in niche with medallion

portraits and military trophies to plasterwork panels. Statues of Randolph

churchill, 1895, and 7th Duke of Marlborough, 1883. Organ case, reredos, pulpit

and benches by T.G. Jackson, c.1890. The 8th Duke, who succeeded in 1883, was

chairman of New Telephone Company and installed earliest domestic phone system

in Britain here: late C19 telephone sets in Long Library and estate office in

Kitchen Court. Amongst the notable furnishings are: in west corridor, connecting

Great Hall to Long Library, C18 Flemish statues of nymph and youth (Parodi

workshop); Emperor Vespasian and Caracalla; Cardinal Delfino and Cardinal

Borromeo (C18 Italian); in Great Hall are 2 bronze statues by Soldani, removed

from East Formal Garden; early C18 statue of Bacchus by Michael Vandervoort;

Alexander the Great, partly Roman, and Roman bust of Emperor Hadrian; C18

Emperor Scipio Africanus. Woodstock Park, the site far Blenheim Palace, was

presented by Queen Anne to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, to

commemorate his decisive defeat of the French army at Blenheim in 1704. As a

"Royall and a National Monument" (Vanbrugh) it outclasses English royal palaces

and rivals the Baroque palaces of Europe in size and splendour. Important

influences were Versailles, medieval castle architecture and Elizabethan

architecture especially Wollaton Hall. Amongst the masons employed were the

Peisleys and William Townesend, who worked on other buildings in Blenheim Park.

(Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: pp459-472; National Monuments Record; D.

Green: Blenheim Palace, 1951; K. Downes: Hawksmoor, 1959; K. Downes: Vanbrugh,

1977; Article in Country Life: Vol 25 (1909), pp786-798, 834-844; D. Green and

C. Hussey: "Blenheim Palace Revisited", Country Life: Vol 105 (1949), pp1182-6,

1246-1250; D. Green and M. Jourdain: "Furniture at Blenheim", Country Life:

Vol.107 (1951), pp1184-6; D. Green and T. Rayson: "Restoring Blenheim Palace",

Country Life, Vol.124 (1958), pp1400-01; M. Bennitt, "A Painter on the Grand

Scale: Louis Laguerre", Vol 136 (1964), pp226-8; D. Green: "Rysbrack at

Blenheim", Vol 149 (1971), pp26-28)

 

Blenheim Palace - Heritage Gateway

 

Blenheim Palace

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Taken circa 1993