Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Blenheim Palace is a stately home in England, close to the city of Oxford. It was built for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough during the reign of Queen Anne as a reward for his military service in Great Britain's foreign wars and civil uprisings, in particular for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. It stands near to the site where Woodstock Palace was previously located, in Woodstock, England.
Construction and history
The palace itself was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and, in 1874, became the birthplace of the Duke's famous descendant, Winston Churchill, whose life and times are commemorated by a permanent exhibition within the palace.
Marlborough and Vanbrugh got on well, but, since Marlborough was often away, it fell to his duchess, Sarah Churchill, to deal with the architect on a day-to-day basis. Sarah did not see eye to eye with Vanbrugh on the design. His grandiose ideas did not fit in with her practicality. She wanted a family home; he was designing a national monument. One point of disagreement was the fate of the former Woodstock Palace. Sarah wanted the historic ruins demolished; Vanbrugh, an early conservationist, wanted them restored and made into a feature. Sarah eventually got her way.
Thanks to these disagreements and changes of plan, the cost of the building was steadily mounting, and work stopped altogether in 1712. It was resumed when the Churchills returned from their continental exile, on the accession of King George I in 1714. Marlborough took the decision to carry on the work with his own money, and most of his existing debts had to be written off. Although the duke and duchess moved into the palace, it was not completed until after the duke's death. In 1730, Sarah commissioned a joint tomb for the chapel, and her husband's body was returned there from Westminster Abbey.
A triumphal arch leads up to the palace from Park Street, in Woodstock town, symbolizing the victory at Blenheim.
The current (11th) Duke of Marlborough resides at the Palace for much of the year. His private quarters are situated in the east wing. Much of the rest of the palace is run as a commercial concern with activities including tours of the palace and grounds with a maze, adventure playground, mini-train and gift shops, fishing, bottling of branded mineral water, corporate events and weddings. Concerts and festivals, such as an annual cheese festival, are also staged in the palace and its grounds. Activities are managed by Sodexho Prestige, a division of Sodexho.
A more detailed architectural appraisal and further information on Blenheim Palace is at John Vanbrugh.
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