UK Road Trip

September 12, 2014 — Bath - Blenheim Palace and Oxford

Ward, Jerry and Gayle stayed in Bath today while Marylee, Barbara and Jay drove to Blenheim Palace and the nearby college town of Oxford.  It was about an hour and 40 minutes drive from Bath to the palace.  Blenheim Palace is the home of the Duke of Marlborough and the current duke lives in the east wing of the palace.  The first Duke of Marlborough was John Churchill, and Queen Anne gifted him the money to build the palace after he defeated Louis the XIV’s army at the battle of Blenheim in Bavaria in 1704.  Rick Steves jokes in his book that if the French had won this battle, we’d all be speaking French today.  We started our visit walking through the Churchill exhibit that had a lot of memorabilia from WWII.  Recordings of Churchill’s famous speeches were playing as we walked through the exhibit.  On display was the bed where Winston was born.  His pregnant mother Jennie was at a party at the palace when she went into labor five weeks prematurely.  Winston later claimed that he choose to be born early because he wanted his birth to take place in his ancestral home.  Next we went on a guided tour (about 45 minutes) of the state rooms.  Our guide, Doug, was excellent, and we enjoyed seeing the opulent decor and vivid colors.  There were Brussels tapestries depicting the Battle of Blenheim and many portraits of past dukes and their families.  An organist gave a short demonstration at the end of the tour.  After walking through the rest on our own and seeing the chapel, we went outside to the Formal Gardens.  The weather was beautiful again today, and we ate lunch outdoors in the cafe overlooking the gardens.  We walked around to see the Italian Gardens, then went back to the car and drove a short distance to the town of Bladon to visit Churchill’s grave next to the Church of St Martin.  From there we drove about 20 minutes to the town of Oxford.  It was slow going into town—it’s a busy place.  We spent about a half hour looking for (and finding) Lincoln College, where Rachel Maddow was a Rhodes scholar, and University College, where Bill Clinton studied (also as a Rhodes scholar, we think).  There are many colleges scattered around Oxford, and most of the buildings are old and very attractive.  It took us about 2 hours to drive from Oxford to Bath.  The 3 of us went to The Real Italian Pizza Restaurant where Jay and Barbara shared a pizza with jalapeño peppers and Marylee had eggplant parmigiana—it seemed pretty authentic, and the beer was Italian, too.

Blenheim Palace

Churchill Exhibit, Blenheim Palace

Churchill Exhibit - bed where Winston Churchill was born

Blenheim Palace - Red Drawing Room (chaperone sofa)

Blenheim Palace - Green Drawing Room (tapestry of battle of Blenheim)

Blenheim Palace - The Saloon

Blenheim Palace - Third State Room

Blenheim Palace - did Gayle get a dinner reservation?

Blenheim Palace - Queen Anne (17 pregnancies)

Blenheim Palace - organ demonstration

Blenheim Palace - Formal Gardens

Blenheim Palace - Italian Gardens

Winston Churchill's grave in churchyard in nearby Bladon


Lincoln College, Oxford (Rachel Maddow got a PhD in philosophy here)

University College, Oxford - Bill Clinton studied here

© Jay 2020