Blenheim Palace has completed a 16-year restoration of more than 2,000 books in time for World Book Day today, according to Newbury Today.
The Long Library has been undergoing a comprehensive conservation programme. Books have been re-bound and re-sewn with new leather bindings made and covers re-dyed due to light damage. The Long Library was Winston Churchill’s favourite room in the palace and is now home to dozens of his books.
World Book Day is held annually on the first Thursday in March and every child in full-time education in the UK is given a book voucher.
Blenheim Palace, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough’s Oxfordshire home, is one of the most famous country houses on the planet — not to mention the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Here are some facts about the Palace you might not know!
Why Blenheim was named ‘Blenheim’ — and why it was built in the first place
In 1704 John Churchill, Earl Of Marlborough, and his army defeated the French forces of Louis XIV just outside a town in Bavaria called Blenheim. Queen Anna wanted to honour the Earl, so commissioned prestigious architects John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor to design a magnificent baroque palace in the grounds of a royal hunting park, as a monument to the Battle of Blenheim.
Blenheim’s unique role in equal rights for women
The first Duke of Marlborough had no surviving sons which led parliament to introduce legislation enabling the Dukedom and estate to be passed to a female heir or through the female line. Thus the second holder of Blenheim Palace was, in fact, a woman.
A younger daughter, Lady Anne Churchill, married Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, and from this marriage descended the modern Dukes of Marlborough.
Originally they bore the surname Spencer but George Spencer, the 5th Duke of Marlborough, obtained a Royal Licence to assume and bear the additional surname and arms of his famous ancestor, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, and thus became George Spencer-Churchill.
The Dukedom of Marlborough is the only Dukedom in the United Kingdom that can still pass in the female line so that the Marlborough title never becomes extinct.
How Blenheim helped Henry II enjoy an extra-marital affair
Long before the Palace was built, Henry II used to keep his mistress Rosamund Clifford in a cottage in the grounds of Blenheim Palace. Legend has it that a labyrinth led to the cottage, ensuring only the King himself could reach it — until his wife, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine grew suspicious.
A thread from a tapestry Rosamund Clifford was weaving caught on the King’s spur as he left the cottage, leaving a clear trail for his wife, direct to the front door. Rosamund was offered death by the sword or by poison but while she was being taken to London she escaped and took refuge in a convent nunnery at Godstow near Oxford in 1176.
The stones from this convent were used to build many of the buildings in the area, including the Trout Inn, featured in the Inspector Morse television series.
Blenheim’s special status as a World Heritage Site
In 1987 the United Nations selected Blenheim Palace to join the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids as a World Heritage Site. As a monument to the Battle of Blenheim, an exquisite example of English Baroque and Capability Brown’s landscaping, the Palace was considered by selectors to have been of prime importance to human development.
If you want to feel like royalty on a private tour of the Cotswolds, get in touch today!