Saturday, May 30, 2009

Postcard from the palace

Blenheim, not Buckingham. The Queen has yet to invite me to her home; while the Duke of Marlborough is a little more welcoming to guests – pay up and you can come in. And palatial would be the word to describe the state rooms: magnificent proportions, designed to impress and packed with treasures, both commissioned and collected.

I doubt there are architects and designers working today whose names will last through history as those of the folk associated with Blenheim have. This is just one example of the work of Vanburgh, Hawksmoor and 'Capability' Brown; and it's a good one.

There's another name linked to Blenheim which will resonate for a while too: Winston Churchill. He was born there and was a frequent visitor, producing many paintings of the grounds in between finding the time to be a memorable leader. He was following the example set by his ancestor - the first Duke of Marlborough – in that. Perhaps it's an effect of the credit crunch that we can't afford to let today's architects spread their wings, and we're lacking in charismatic leaders too.

Of course there's more to Blenheim than the dazzling state rooms. Tall yew hedges give the maze an extra frisson of danger, and make you more appreciative of the open parkland once you find the way out. And you could walk for hours in those grounds, build up an appetite for a visit to the café – I can report that the cakes are exceedingly good.

1 comment:

Timberati said...

I often head directly for the cafe of a place. Coffee and biscuits tell me all I need to know about the quality of a place.