Europe 2012: Day 15, Woodstock


Back gardens of the Blemhein Palace (Woodstock, England)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Woke at 7:30AM.  It rained last night.  Everything is wet and the sun is being shy.

Eric prepared another great breakfast this morning.  My DH had beans with his eggs – he is becoming very English that way.

Since it is raining, we decided on an indoor activity today – a visit to Blenheim Palace, located in Woodstock, just eight miles from the city of Oxford.  It is the home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.  It is also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England.   Winston’s father was Lord Randoph Spencer-Churchill who was the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.  The title of 8th Duke was passed to Winston’s uncle.

Blenheim Palace (2300 acres of land and 240,000 British pounds) was a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough following his famous victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.   This palace is still owned by the Spencer-Churchill family, the 11th Duke and Duchess still live on the premises.

Front courtyard of Blenheim Palace (Woodstock, England).

Ever wonder what is the big deal about a Duke or a Lord?   I did!  So I did some research….

  • Duke (male) or Duchess (female) can be either a monarch ruling over a duchy (geographical region) or a member of the nobility.  Historically, such a person has the highest rank below the monarch.  Such a person is given this title (and/or land) because they did something to ensure the reign of the monarch.  The title of Duke is passed from one generation to another.   Normally the title is passed to the oldest male heir.  In the event there is no male heir, the title is lost, althought there was a special act of Parliament that allowed the Marlborough family’s title to be passed to a female heir with the permission of Parliment.
  • A Lord is person who has authority, control, or power over others outside of the monarch.  Such a person is usually self-made via a business, profession, or inheritance.  It is a courtesy title, not a substantive title like that of a Duke and is not passed from one generation to the next.  The title of Lord is used out of custom or courtesy and does not require personal or political relationship with a monarch.

So where does my relative, Sir Roet, fit into this scheme?

  • A Knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch or other political leader for service to the monarch or country, especially in a military capacity.  It is possible for a Knight to become a Duke but then it is possible for anyone to be Duke as long was the King or Queen deems them worthy.

It was quite a drive to reach Blenheim Palace.  About an hour east, just outside the Cotswolds.  The drive back to the B&B would be equally long, so we stopped in a village named Buford for dinner.   We had not tried a real English pub, so we stepped into The Cotswold Arms pub.

My DH ordered the house specialty, a rib-eye steak.   I ordered the Fish and Chips.    The food was good – perfect for a cool and rainy evening.   We even tried the beer, it was called “The Village Idiot” due to its low alcohol content.   It was light and refreshing!

By 9PM, we were back at the B&B.  I decided to do some laundry.  My DH wrote in his journal.  Together we watched “Jane Eyre” on the telly – it was filmed in the Cotswolds!

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