Blenheim Palace is a monumental palatial home located in Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England. It is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. It is considered as one of the largest houses in England that is not occupied by royalty. It has been recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987.
Blenheim Palace History
Blenheim Palace was actually planned as a fitting gift to the First Duke of Marlborough in celebration of victory over the French during the Wars of the Spanish Succession. The First Duke of Marlborough was the skillful military commander that led the winning Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The palace was said to also become a monument to Queen Anne, who convinced a grateful nation to grant the funds needed to build such a house.
The construction of the Blenheim Palace was not without controversy. The First Duchess of Marlborough would have wanted a more comfortable home rather than a palatial residence. She had many arguments and fights with the architect of the palace that eventually led to the architect resigning. The Duchess also eventually fell out of favor with the Queen which led to the Marlborough clan to be even exiled from the land until the death of Queen Anne. As the Royal funds to build the residence dried up which halted the construction in 1712, it was eventually completed at the Duke’s own expense around 1724. Over time, several Dukes have instituted changes and additions into the palatial residence.
Blenheim Palace Features
The Blenheim Palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh. Controversy surrounded his appointment as he was a popular dramatist and not a trained architect. He worked together with the trained and practical Nicholas Hawksmoor, who took care of Vanbrugh’s shortcomings in the technical details of the design.
The basic plan of the Blenheim Palace is to be a large central rectangular block of living spaces. But Vanbrugh’s design aimed for magnificence as it was planned to be a national monument. But comfort and magnificence in design during that time always seemed to be impossible to blend together. Vanbrugh chose a design of a severe form of Baroque by using great stone masses to indicate strength and use shadows for decoration. That air of magnificence can be seen in many features of the palace, from the entrances to the facade of the residence.
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