Little Known Blenheim - Winston Churchill

  • Posted on 12th July 2017 by Guest - Emma

  • Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874 – 1965) was a man who got his own way and who knew exactly what he wanted out of life or so it seemed. Winston was meant to be born safely in London but was delivered prematurely on 30th November 1874 within one of the UK’s most stately piles and home to his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough. It seems that even in the womb, Winston wanted something a little grander for his entrance into this world!  Churchill was then baptised in the palace chapel later in the same year and kept this connection with Blenheim throughout his life. There was an obvious charm about Blenheim that he kept coming back to time and time again.
    He spent many a holiday playing with his cousin, Charles who became the 9th Duke of Marlborough. This childhood playmate served alongside Churchill in the 1914-18 Great War and they remained the best of friends. Charles was also instrumental in bringing Clementine and Churchill together. Churchill met Clementine properly at a dinner in London and was immediately enamoured. The feeling was mutual and when Churchill came to propose, he asked his cousin to invite her to the palace for a party. With the plot in place, Churchill just needed a spot within the garden to offer her his hand in marriage. The night of the party was a washout and Churchill had to think on his feet to relocate their betrothal spot. In the end, they became engaged under the appropriate shelter of The Temple of Diana. A memorial notice is still in place to mark this occasion.
    Churchill’s life and Blenheim are intricately entwined. The palace was grounding for Winston; he was ‘home’ when he was here. He also used the enormous wealth of history available to him to write the biography of his ancestor, the 1st Duke. He went on to write other histories and biographies winning a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. It must have been a sad day in 1934 for Churchill when he lost his friend and cousin, Charles, the 9th Duke of Marlborough. I imagine them staying up late after dinner, enjoying a postprandial cigar in the great hall whilst regaling stories. It is amazing to think that the Duke never saw his friend become the great leader that we all know today but he would have been proud. The Duke would have been aware of his first bouts of ‘black dog’ and understood why he came to Blenheim to write as well as paint. Winston’s art was almost a form of therapy, not that Winston would have admitted to this. During his bouts of manic depression or bipolar syndrome as it would be diagnosed today, he found the process of being absorbed in the subject and the creative process a great comfort.
    When Churchill died in January 1965, he had the full ceremonial state funeral. Instead of being buried at Westminster, he wished to be interred alongside his parents and his much-loved brother, Jack, in St Martin’s churchyard in Bladon, Oxfordshire. Maybe Blenheim was his spiritual home after all. 

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