Friday, August 31, 2007

Blenheim Palace

from the diary: “Friday 10/7/88

“Blenheim Palace was a twenty minute coach ride from Oxford. Huge ‘house’. In a horseshoe around a gigantic graveled courtyard, big gates. We came in through one of the side entrances. Guided tour through the state rooms. The Churchill family (yes, of Winston, though he was not an heir) still lives there. That wing was off limits. But Blenheim Palace was nowhere I’d like to live. Each room was so high-ceilinged anything you said echoed, so all our whispers and the monologue of the guide in another room, and people catching up nearly drowned out our tourguide. Cold, too. And I was not awed by the ostentatious display of wealth. The gold & silver, the tapestries depicting battles against the French which earned the first Earl of the palace his earldom, were all huge and gaudy, grotesque, gross of excess, and so unfriendly. But the grounds were different. Sure they were on the same scale as the house – big formal gardens with statuary and expansive lawns so neatly manicured they looked like carpet. But the statues and the trees had personality. An old English oak, bent & gnarled. And long trails leading down to the river or just along through the grounds. A rose garden with a last few flowers battling the strong wind.”


J. L. Bell said...

A few years ago, I took a bus from Oxford to the village near Blenheim, then walked to the palace.

In the distance I saw a large stately building. "That is a palace," I thought. It turned out to be the lodge at the edge of the estate.

Further along, I saw a larger, statelier building. "That's the palace," I thought. "It's so much bigger."

Then I got closer, and realized I was indeed seeing Blenheim Palace, but from one of its short sides. It was two or three times as long from the front!

Glenn Ingersoll said...

What, they just allowed you to walk right up, willy nilly?