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As our time in England looks more and more limited, I feel like I have to check off items from my England bucket list.  Last week’s visit to Cambridge was one big check.  On Saturday, Michael and I checked off another item – Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough by God...

Located a few miles from Oxford, Blenheim Palace is probably best known as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.  Built in the early 18th century, this historic home is the seat of the Duke of Marlborough.  The current  (11th) Duke and Duchess of Marlborough live in one wing of the palace.  John Churchill was the first Duke of Marlborough; Winston Churchill’s grandfather was the 7th Duke of Marlborough.

Michael and I walked a bit through the gardens, though there was much more to see than we had time for.  We then toured the state rooms of the palace.  Portraits of Consuelo Vanderbilt, who married and later divorced the 9th Duke of Marlborough, are seen throughout the house. It was not uncommon for wealthy, young American women to marry into British nobility in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The extra money must have come in handy to maintain these enormous estates.  Winston Churchill’s mother was also American.

More photos from the gardens:

This last photo shows a copy of an ancient Roman sculpture, The Dying Gaul, also known as The Dying Gladiator.  A copy of this sculpture is also at the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island.

After our tour of Blenheim Palace, Michael and I drove out to the Cotswolds to visit some of the picturesque villages.  Though crocuses and some daffodils were beginning to bloom, these villages must be especially beautiful at the height of the growing season.  We stopped at a few villages, including:

St. Michael's Church in Stanton

Stanton:  Here we walked around, stopping at St. Michael’s church and climbing the hill to enjoy the views.

St. Michael's church interior, Stanton

View over Stanton

Stanway House, which is open to visitors during the summer

Stanway:  We stopped here briefly, but the manor house (pictured above) and the church were closed.  However, we met a friendly Brit, who suggested that we stop at the medieval church in Hailes to see some restored frescoes.

Hailes:  We followed his advice.  Interesting frescoes.  One showed a hunting scene, with a rabbit cowering before some dogs!

Hailes Church, consecrated in 1175

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Lower Slaughter:  This picturesque village is located on a little river, where we enjoyed feeding the ducks.  And we couldn’t finish our beautiful day in the country without a cup of tea and yummy scones.

The old mill