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My latest panorama pic!

On Day 3 I drove to the county of Oxfordshire to visit Blenheim Palace. Blenheim is spectacular and rivals the Palace of Versailles in terms of grandeur.

Blenheim is not a royal palace. Built between the years 1705 and 1724, it was gift to the First Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) from Queen Anne for his great success in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, considered a turning point in European history. The palace is open to the public but is still the home of the 11th Duke – John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill. The Churchill part of his name is also related to Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim Palace; the Spencer part of the name is linked to the Spencers of my trip to Althorp yesterday, as it was a Spencer who was the third Duke; and the Vanderbilt relates to the wealthy American dynasty, as it was the marriage of the 9th Duke to Consuelo Vanderbilt that saved Blenheim from ruin in the 19th century.

You may recognise Blenheim as the Danish palace of Elsinore in the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet.

They didn’t let you take photos inside but I took a guided tour of the State Rooms and then I managed to get a ticket for the rare tours of the Duke’s private apartments.

It was a very hot day – close to 30 degrees, which is unexpected and quite uncomfortable in England. Occasionally there was a bit of cloud and I took the photo above while I was sitting on the terrace having lunch. It’s sepia toned because I used my sunglasses as a polarising filter for the camera so that you could see the rays of sun.

The gardens were quite beautiful. Blenheim Palace has over 2000 acres of grounds.
On my way back to Warwick I visited the National Trust property of Upton House.

Upton House was the home of the Samuels, heirs of the Shell Oil fortune.

There was an exhibition of Shell Oil promotional material upstairs.

There were many beautiful rooms. Upton House had its heyday in the 1920s and 30s, when there were large-scale works to the building and grounds.

Think The Great Gatsby or pre-war Agatha Christie novels.

My favourite room was the glamorous 1920s bathroom in aluminium leaf and red.



The toilet.

Just gorgeous. Hard to imagine it’s almost a hundred years old!

Another great feature of the property are the gardens.

Upton House is well known for its beautiful deep terraces.

That evening I had dinner in Warwick at a local pub – most pleasant!