The Place to Find All Things Churchill

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace Woodstock, Oxfordshire

A visit to Blenheim Palace offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a chance to share the splendours of Baroque architecture designed in the 1700s by Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor, to wonder at the collections of art, tapestry and antiques, and to explore the Park and Gardens and discover landscapes crafted by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to form magnificent vistas of English countryside.

If you are visiting Blenheim Palace for the first time, we have 300 years of history and 2000 acres of beautiful landscapes for you to discover. With just a single day, you can enjoy guided tours of the Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough and the greatest Briton, Sir Winston Churchill. You will find exhibits that tell the story of their lives, and the lives of those who have run the Palace and Estate for three centuries, through diaries, artefacts, photographs and film.

Our annual pass will give you more time for our rich history to unfold, and to appreciate the natural delights of the changing seasons as they play across the glorious parkland that, together with the Palace, make this a World Heritage Site.

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‘The family and the home’ The lion no longer had his roar

Churchill had been determined to have a happy family – to maintain those ‘dominating virtues of human society’ – but he lived so many other lives – as a politician, as a war leader, and had so many passionate interests (writing, painting, holidays) – that his family was, to a greater or lesser degree, squeezed in among these other busy lives. There were painful consequences, of course, but Clementine had always accepted that her husband must come first (and ‘second and third’) and worked tirelessly to support him. And his children, however, they responded to the pressures of being the great man’s children, appreciated, and were proud of, all he had done for them and for the country.

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Blenheim Palace Home of the Dukes of Marlborough

Blenheim Palace is a World Heritage Site and home to the 13th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

Queen Anne and a grateful nation gifted Blenheim Palace to the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his great victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. A true masterpiece of Baroque architecture, Blenheim Palace delivers an awe-inspiring experience for visitors and is surrounded with over 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Parkland and Formal Gardens.

Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in 1874. Grandson of the 7th Duke, he was also a close friend of the 9th Duke and Duchess. Winston spent a considerable amount of time at the Palace throughout his life and proposed to his wife Clementine in the Temple of Diana.

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Mrs Everest Churchill's beloved nanny

Winston's nanny Mrs Everest

Winston’s nanny Mrs Everest

Churchill’s younger brother, Jack, was born in 1880 when Churchill was five. They saw little of their parents, and both of them were looked after by a nanny. Mrs Everest (she was, in fact, a spinster; the ‘Mrs’ was an honorary title) was hired when Winston was only a few months old. The children led a peripatetic life, often travelling with her from their home in Ireland (the ‘Little Lodge’, where the Churchills lived when his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, became Viceroy of Ireland), to the Isle of Wight, to Blenheim and to London.

Churchill was enormously fond of Mrs Everest and called her ‘Woom’ or ’Woomany’. She exerted a considerable influence on him throughout his childhood until she died when he was a young man of twenty-one (he was devastated by her death, and arranged for the erection of a headstone on her grave and paid an annual sum for its upkeep thereafter, a practice which has been continued to this day by The Churchill Centre and the Churchill family). For more about Churchill and his nanny, see the National Churchill Museum site.

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The Engagement

Churchill proposed marriage to three women in his twenties, all of whom said ‘no’ (although all of them remained his friends). He met Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, ten years his junior, at a party, the Crewe House ball, in 1904 but the meeting wasn’t a success. Unusually for him, Churchill was tongue-tied and they hardly spoke.

When they met again, however, at a dinner party in 1908 (Clementine had been invited at the last minute, to fill a gap at her great-aunt’s table), they clearly got on rather better. Impressed by her beauty, her intelligence and her ability to talk politics (she was an earnest Liberal and supporter of greater rights for women, Churchill began an ardent courtship.

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Mrs Everest Churchill's beloved nanny

Churchill’s younger brother, Jack, was born in 1880 when Churchill was five. They saw little of their parents and both of them were looked after by a nanny. Mrs Everest (she was, in fact, a spinster; the ‘Mrs’ was an honorary title) was hired when Winston was only a few months old.

The children led a peripatetic life, often travelling with her from their home in Ireland (the ‘Little Lodge’, where the Churchills lived when his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, became Viceroy of Ireland), to the Isle of Wight, to Blenheim and to London.

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Churchill’s Early Years – Life at Blenheim

Blenheim Palace was always one of Churchill’s favourite places. He spent much of his time as a child there, both before he went to school and during school holidays. His parents were often away, busy with their political and social lives, and his grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, often looked after him and his brother, Jack, allowing them to play in the Palace and its Great Park.

Frances, the Duchess of Marlborough, his grandmother, kept an eye on Winston throughout his youth and, in 1890 when he was returning to school from Blenheim after the summer holidays, wrote to him advising him to take care and to ‘keep out of scrapes and don’t flare up so easily…’. Like most children, he greatly looked forward to the holidays, many of which were spent at Blenheim. Blenheim was to provide a reassuring, constant backdrop to Churchill throughout his life; not just as a venue for holidays from school, but also for house parties and dinners as an adult, and it was where he chose to propose to his future wife, Clementine.

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WinstonChurchill.org

The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.