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England’s Blenheim Palace (2:41)

Blenheim, England

England’s finest noble countryside palace, home of the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill, welcomes the public with souvenirs of Britain’s story decorating the walls and beautifully landscaped vistas designed into its sublime garden.

Complete Video Script

Blenheim Palace is the Duke of Marlborough’s home. England has plenty of noble palaces in its countryside. This is my vote for the finest. Given to the first Duke of Marlborough for a great military victory, Blenheim Palace is now home to his descendant — the 12th duke of Marlborough — and he welcomes the public, whose entrance fees help maintain his huge estate.
It’s remarkable to think that two of the most important military victories in the entire history of Britain — while two centuries apart — were overseen by commanders from the same family: Churchill.

John Churchill (who was the first Duke [of Marlborough]) defeated Louis XIV and the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. And Winston Churchill, who was born in this palace, won the Battle of Britain and helped defeat Hitler in World War II.
In the aptly named Great Hall, you’ll be dwarfed by the grandeur of the palace. A long hall leads through a series of richly decorated staterooms. These sumptuous rooms are lined with portraits of past dukes; this is number four and his family. Photos of the present duke’s family are a reminder that the palace is still lived in. Several dukes were rocked in this ornate cradle (as babies). Winston Churchill was born in this room in 1874. His golden locks — first cut when he was five years old — hang above the bed. The dining room has hosted about 300 years of fancy banquets.

The Blenheim Tapestry shows the moment the French commander surrendered to that first Marlborough — quite dashing on his white horse. In the distance we see the latest artillery, the carnage of battle, and legions of soldiers.

The remarkable “long library” was, in the 18th century, one of the finest private libraries in Europe. It’s overseen by Queen Anne, who honored the first duke by giving him this palace, which remains in his family to this day.

The palace’s enchanting gardens are vast and feel natural. But the sublime lake and beautifully landscaped vistas were carefully planned. The majestic water terraces were designed to compete with Versailles…and they do. The tea garden is an ideal place from which to ponder it all. And the column of victory, capped by the first Duke of Marlborough, oversees everything.