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Stonor House & Park

         
Henley-on-Thams Oxfordshire England
Description : 

The house appears as an E-shaped Tudor manor house behind a warm red brick façade with Georgian windows.

 


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Blenheim Palace

      
Woodstock Oxfordshire England
Description : 

HISTORY

Blenheim Palace is home to the 11th Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Conceived in 1705 by Sir John Vanbrugh, this unique Palace is a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture, built on Queen Anne's orders for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. In his design for Blenheim Palace, Vanbrugh's aim was to house a national hero and to celebrate England's newly won supremacy over the French in a blaze of architectural glory to rival Versailles. Its function, therefore, was to be a monument, castle, citadel and private house  in that order. The splendour and tranquillity of the 2,100 acres of landscaped parkland and the Formal Gardens are unrivalled anywhere in Britain. The Palace interiors carefully balance the delicate with the awe-inspiring, from the imposing vastness of the Great Hall, to the intricate detailing of the State Rooms. Blenheim Palace was created a World Heritage site in 1987.

THE GARDENS

The gardens at Blenheim Palace are all-encompassing, and from the Secret Garden, the Italian Garden, the Water Terraces, the Pleasure Gardens (which include the Marlborough Maze), the Rose Garden, and the Arboretum, there is beauty to be found in all seasons. Sometimes, when a new house is built, the design of the grounds is left until later, but not at Blenheim Palace. Vanbrugh reported that the Garden Wall was set agoing the same day with the House. Beautifully restored, renovated and maintained by twelve permanent garden staff, led by Trevor Wood and his wife Hilary, who has worked at Blenheim Palace for over 25 years, the gardens are totally awe-inspiring in their apparently effortless style and splendour.


The Secret Garden

Marking the events of over three centuries of history, the gardens at Blenheim Palace must adorn over a million memories. In 2004, whilst planning a suitable project to mark the tercentenary of the Battle of Blenheim, His Grace, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, was reminded of his grandfather's remark: there is no building in Europe, except Versailles, which so perfectly preserves its original atmosphere. This led to the decision to bring his father's Private Garden
back to life, preserving the original layout but introducing new features, to be enjoyed by everyone.

Created four years after the house was opened to the public in 1950, this haven was designed as a romantic English garden. It had become completely overgrown and almost forgotten when its restoration was undertaken. Trevor Wood, the head gardener, replanted it and established new paths and water features in record time for the official opening in May 2004, creating a garden for all seasons. It was renamed the Secret Garden and five years on it has matured delightfully.

The Marlborough Maze

The Secret Garden is merely the most recent of many projects showcasing the Duke of Marlborough's inspired means to retain the magic at Blenheim Palace, and welcome a wide-range of visitors through the gates. Some twenty years ago, His Grace established a new hedge maze (the second largest symbolic hedge maze in the world at 1.8 acres), in a conscious effort to provide an entertaining garden for the younger visitors. It was particularly designed with elements of military symbolism celebrating the career of his illustrious ancestor, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and the victory for which this great house was his reward. The maze was constructed within the walls of the old kitchen garden (the only part of Vanbrugh's original construction to survive), once planted with espaliered fruit trees (pineapples, peaches, melons, eight different varieties of grape), and neat rows of vegetables, stocked by the royal gardener, Henry Wise. Fruit and vegetables are still grown within the grounds for the palace.

The Park and Rose Garden

At Blenheim the overriding legacy is Capability Brown's, and it is this setting which helped Blenheim Palace gain its World Heritage Site status. The landscape setting he devised in the 1760s provided a sublime form of beauty and harmony that every generation of the Marlborough family has endeavoured to preserve ever since. Glorious views were created both to and from the house, the finest of which is the majestic panorama observed on entering the Park through Hawksmoor's Triumphal Arch at Woodstock - the shimmering expanse of the lake, the Grand Bridge, and the dense canopy of trees on the rising ground beyond. Although Vanbrugh built the bridge, it was Brown who
provided a worthy setting by constructing a wide cascade dam and creating a lake unparalleled in size and beauty at the time. For a long period Brown's grassy landscape came right up to the steps of the Palace and prevailed largely untouched even though several smaller garden schemes came and went. Of these only one remains today, a circular Rose Garden created by John Winston, 7th Duke, and restored by Trevor Wood, the present Head Gardener.

The Italian Gardens and Water Terraces

John Winston also returned a degree of formality to the east front when he laid out a symmetrical Italian Garden in the 1860s, which still remains private, but can be seen from the raised public walkway. In the early 20th century the 9th Duke of Marlborough redesigned the Italian Garden on the advice of his French architect, Achille Duchne. Formal symmetrical scrollwork parterres in box and yew replaced the earlier scheme of carpet bedding after a new bronze fountain by the American sculptor, Waldo Story, had been installed. These box-hedges are kept in pristine condition - each of them trimmed using spirit-levels, and string, as well as many hours of dedicated hard work.

Duchne was also responsible for the Water Terraces on the west front, inspired by both Italian and French designs, creating a perfect link between Vanbrugh's baroque architecture and the informality of the Brownian landscape. In a vast engineering project undertaken from 1925-30, different shapes and levels of water were formed in each terrace, centred on an axis between the building and the lake.


As the present guardian of this great estate, including more than 80 acres of formal gardens, I am conscious that Blenheim Palace is not merely a residence for my family - its heritage, its scale and its beauty make it much more. The only English stately home designated a World Heritage Site it is unique amongst country houses and remains, as intended, a national monument in an exquisite setting, The Duke of Marlborough.

Telephone 01993 810500
www.blenheimpalace.com

 

Chedworth Roman Villa

      
Cheltenham Gloucestershire England
Description : 

At one of Britain's grandest Roman Villas you will discover the Golden Age of Roman Britain, walk in the footsteps of Romans and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Roman life.

The site was discovered in 1864 on the Earl of Eldon's estate by a local gamekeeper and then excavated by his estate workers - a visit to the Victorian Museum tells the story of these early days and has a unique collection of artefacts from the site.

Following a major project in 2012 the extraordinary relics of the site were unveiled anew.

 


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Snowshill Manor

      
Broadway Gloucestershire England
Description : 

This is a real one-off. Snowshill is home to an English eccentric's treasure trove.

 


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Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate

      
Cheltenham Gloucestershire England
Description : 

Discover Lodge Park, a unique and beautiful 17th-century grandstand complete with a mile long deer course and accompanying deer park.

 


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