June 5, 2013

Finest Hour 143, Summer 2009

Page 48

A Sight for Lore Eyes

Blenheim and the Churchill Family: A Personal Portrait, by Henrietta Spencer-Churchill. Cico, 218 pages, hardbound, illus., $50. Member price $40.

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By Paul H. Courtenay

Mr. Courtenay is a FH senior editor.

Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill is the elder daughter of the Eleventh and current Duke of Marlborough; having grown up at Blenheim Palace, she has an intimate knowledge of and feel for its history and contents. Her book is filled with a large number of fine photographs, accompanied by a lively commentary.

Here you will find a wonderful display of all parts of the Palace including the famous tapestries and many historic paintings. As the Duke says in his foreword, the book “brings out vividly how eleven generations of my family have, in their various ways, contributed to a house designed not only as a family home, but also as a monument of such significance that it is now identified as a World Heritage Site.”

Beyond the iconic images familiar to many, there are hitherto unseen family photographs of recent times, which give a glimpse of everyday life in such historic surroundings; these are accompanied by the author’s personal recollections.

It is almost impossible to list any points with which to quibble: I found just one of modest substance, a misidentified photograph: Queen Mary is mistakenly stated to be Princess Alice (actually Her Majesty’s sister-in-law and second cousin once removed, who is not portrayed). This is a trifle in a book of great interest to those who have visited Blenheim, and to those who still have this treat coming.

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