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To The Manor Born

In 1704 The Duke of Marlborough spectacularly defeated the hitherto invincible French army of Louis XIV, at the Battle of Blenheim. For this major victory and as a reward from a grateful nation, a magnificent house was built at Woodstock, between 1705 and circa 1722. Soon after its construction began, the palace was to become the subject of political infighting; this led to Marlborough's exile, the fall from power of his duchess, and lasting damage to the reputation of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh.

Following the palace's completion, it became the home of the Churchill, later Spencer-Churchill, family for the next 300 years, and various members of the family have in that period wrought changes, in the interiors, park and gardens. At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough's marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill. In 1987 Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As part of this heritage special event and tour you will visit two spectacular private houses, Stonor house at Abingdon, which is one of the oldest family homes still lived in today. When you visit you will see why it’s so beautiful, with its historic building and breathtaking grounds. The family collection of art and artefacts is extraordinary. Another private home being visited is Kingston Bagpuize. There has been a manor here in the village dating back to the time of the Norman Conquest. A second house built later was remodelled and sold 1917 to Edward Strauss, a Member of Parliament.

Your host and guide is Mike Stone, a highly experienced Blue Badge Guide and archaeologist with interests ranging from history to historical buildings. The highlight of this tour is a private evening and dinner at Blenheim Palace.

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