It’s our last full tour day. We fly out tomorrow from Heathrow. So, we made our way back to London by way of Blenheim Palace. There is a difference between castle and palace. Castle is for defense. Palace is for show. No moat probably a palace. And Blenheim is quite the show! We’ve seen a lot of royal wonder. Seeing this plush place was saving the best for last.
Blenheim took 28 years to make and is 300 years old. Originally, it served as the King’s summer cottage. Indeed, King Henry II used it as a lover’s getaway. When the Queen found out, she pretended to be the king and sent a message for a rendezvous. When the gal arrived, the Queen handed her a poison apple. The Queen told her she could die quickly eating the apple or painfully by the Queen’s henchmen. Stuart said this is believed to be the origin of the Snow White fairytale. The Palace said the Queen found the gal in the Queen’s bed and stabbed her to death. I like Stuart’s version. It’s classier. Regardless, there is plenty of history and splendor at Blenheim.
Winston Churchill was born here. Lady Diane Spencer is also within the lineage of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. The current 11th Duke and his current Duchess (fourth wife) reside in the east wing. We were able to tour the state rooms in the main area and the extensive library, chapel in the west wing. Plus, we could tour the backyard of gardens, lake, and waterfall. It was expansive and beautiful indeed.
The preservation of the palace is credited to the 9th Duchess, Consuella Vanderbilt. In the 1900’s it was the fashion for struggling aristocrats to marry for money. American heiresses were the target. Consuella was the reluctant bride. Her mother imprisoned her for four days on bread and water. She finally agreed. She gave birth to an heir and an heir spare, two sons. She eventually divorced the Duke but remained fond of Blenheim where her son lived as the 10th Duke and she is buried there along with Winston Churchill.
We arrived in London just in time for our second brush with Tour de France 2014. From the base of the Westminster Bridge, we were 8 people back in drizzle. They were late so we waited an hour for an event that can be described as swoosh… 11 seconds. Jenny is taller so she filmed it like everyone else did. All I saw were the back of people raising their phones and Ipads over their heads to film it. The tall guy behind me was on his tippy toes and using my shoulder as a balancer. It was cool though! Viva La Tour de France.
And we were one block away from the bike race. We stayed at the Park Plaza, poshest hotel on the trip. Again, saving the best for last. It was lovely. We ate at the Joel Brassiere at the Plaza with the family. And then mom, dad, Jenny, Christy, Aunt Sue, Uncle Roger and I rode the London Eye for one last spectacular moment. This entire trip was an experience of a lifetime. Two generations of Walshes traveling to our origin. I feel blessed indeed for this wondrous opportunity.