We’ve been home for a bit, but I love looking at my photos of our Europe trip! There are still so many things to tell you all about. We were blessed to have a long weekend in the beautiful Cotswolds because we happened to be there on Bank Holiday, so Matt had the day off from work. There are endless things to do in this part of England, but we chose to visit the place where Winston Churchill was born, Blenheim Palace. This beautiful place is currently the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough. But originally, the land and money was given to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, after his triumphant victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. It took me a bit to figure this all out! I kept thinking that Blenheim must be the family name. Or that the family’s last name was Marlborough. But the Churchill family has lived here since the construction of the palace. And what a palace it is! I’m sure the palace would have become well known just because of how gorgeous it is, but it is famous for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill. His family did not live in the palace but was related to the ones that did. While his mother was visiting there, she gave birth to Winston. Here is the birth room. Several rooms of the building were dedicated to information about Winston Churchill’s life. Even though all the political accomplishments were amazing, I was fascinated by the fact that Mr. Churchill was an artist. They had a case full of his paintings. What beautiful work! And I loved the quote from him, “Armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot ‘have several days on one’s hands.'” And this one that was displayed there, “When I die and go to heaven, I want to spend the first million years painting – so I can get to the bottom of the subject.” After learning about what a fascinating man Winston Churchill was, we toured the rooms that are open to the public. At first the rooms were gilded and decorated with huge paintings and tapestries. This room even displayed the gilded cradle in which the Duchesses of Marlborough rocked their babies. But then the rooms became less opulent. The dukes ran out of money before they could gild these rooms. Personally, I thought they were gorgeous as is! Having enough money to support a palace has always been a challenge for the Dukes of Marlborough. The first duchess, Sarah, constantly watched over the building of the palace to make sure the architect was not overspending. And throughout the years, each duke had problems financing the estate. Finally in 1896, Charles, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, saved the palace by marrying a rich, American heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt. She is pictured in the large painting in the photo with her two sons, an heir and a spare. We were able to enjoy the grounds of the palace and also the jousting that took place that day. Touring Blenheim Palace filled the day. As we ate dinner that evening, I was surprised how good the fire felt in May! I couldn’t imagine wanting a fire at home in May. We had enjoyed the free day, but the next one Matt had to go back to work. What would I find to do? Since I didn’t have a car, I decided to venture forth by walking. It was such a beautiful place there in the Cotswolds. Our B&B was near the towns of Lower Oddington and Upper Oddington. I was told that there was an interesting church in Lower Oddington about 1.5 miles away so I put on my rain jacket and headed out to find St. Nicholas church. As I approached the front door, it seemed a bit spooky to me. I’m not sure why. But I was all alone and had to force myself to go inside the building. It almost seemed that I could feel all the history around me. This church was originally built in the 11th century by the Normans. So old! Hundreds of years of people had come to this place in search of God. Did they find Him? Since most people could not read then, stories were told with paintings. In the 1300s a large Doomsday depiction was painted to cover one entire wall of the church but was then whitewashed in the 1600s. Through the years, people forgot it was even there. In 1912, the white wash was removed and the painting rediscovered. It shows Jesus as the king with the earth under his feet. On one side of him, people are shown in heaven. The other side shows the fate of those that reject Jesus as Lord. I must admit that this large painting was quite startling to have greet me as I entered the church. But I ventured farther in and explored some more. The church was so interesting! But I was glad to get out and back in the beautiful countryside again. Later that evening, I had to take Matt back to the church to show him such an amazingly old and fascinating place. Of course there was a geocache just on the other side of the church fence. We sure did love the Cotswolds but our time there was over. I’d go back in a heartbeat!
Here is the previous post about England! Golden Cotswolds: England 3