4 months ago
Thursday, July 20, 2006
It’s difficult to describe Blenheim Palace. It is magnificent and stately, but it is also welcoming and accessible (which Windsor is not). That’s a combination I wasn’t expecting, and one I didn’t really think was possible. The building is monumental, truly a palace, built in the English Baroque style by John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. I hate baroque, but several rooms were restrained enough in it’s use to keep it from becoming oppressive. It even felt inviting because you loose yourself so completely in the architecture. But it was the small details that made it human. The Long Library, the longest room in England, is filled with books. When I look through homes I always look at the books (and movies and music) displayed. They tell you more about who lives there than looking through bathroom drawers would. The thousands of titles in this librbay include:
Life of Ruskin Vol . III by Collingwood
Marius the Epicurean Vol. I by Fater
The High History of the Holy Graal Vol. I-III
History of British Fishes Vol. I-II by Yarell
Garden Craft of Shakespeare by Ellacombe
The Heptameron of Queen Margaret
Exemplary Novels of Cervantes
Decameron of Boccaccio (I have this too!)
History of French Literature
Swift’s Works Vol. I-XIX
Perhaps the warmth of Blenheim can be attributed to the interior design of Lady Henrietta Spencer Churchill. She also designed the private quarters which we also toured. This was the highlight for me where I was able to see the tea room which inspired the architecture of the kitchen I designed this spring. The spaceplan in each room was very cozy. Movies I spotted in one room included The Terminal, Cold Mountain, and The Green Mile.
The gardens are beautiful as well. I've always loved formal English gardens as an art form.
I spent time in the courtyard sketching. As I sat there people kept peaking over my shoulder. It’s disconcerting, but I’ve gotten used to it. Sketching in public makes me feel like a street performer. A group of French teenage girls watched me for several minutes, chattering away. I don’t know what they said, but told me “very beautiful” a few times before they left. Click on the photos to see a larger size.
Blenhiem also has the most beautiful landscape gardens that go on for hundreds of acres. They were designed by Capability Brown and add the comfortable atmosphere. You could sit and gaze forever. You also felt like you could play.
Outside the palace gates is a charming little town. Today I took pictures of door knockers. These are all on the same block.
I had dinner in Oxford with Audrey, Adam, Seth, Megan, Darrin and Kelsea before heading back to London.