Blenheim Park, Oxfordshire

Historical Description

Blenheim Park, formerly extra-parochial, now a parish, the seat of the Duke of Marlborough, in Oxfordshire, on the river Glyme and on Akeman Street, immediately W of Woodstock, and 1¼ mile N from Handborough station on the G.W.R. Post town, Woodstock, which is the money order and telegraph office. Acreage, 2137 of land and 132 of water; population, 151. The Duke of Marlborough is lord of the manor and sole landowner. This was a royal demesne, containing the ancient palace of Woodstock, was given to the great Duke of Marlborough, along with the parliamentary grant of £500,000 for decorating the grounds and building a mansion, and took its present name from his victory of Blenheim on the Danube on 2 Aug., 1704. The park is entered from Woodstock by a triumphal arch; it has much diversity of surface, and was laid out by " Capability Brown;" it abounds with fine old trees, and displays groups of wood so arranged as to represent the battle of Blenheim; and it contains a lake of 260 acres, spanned by a fine three-arched bridge-a column 134 feet high, surmounted by a colossal statue of the great duke-a curious old house, vailed High Lodge, once inhabited by the profligate Earl of Rochester as ranger of the park-a spring, called Rosamund's Well, traditionally said to have supplied the bath of the "Fair Rosamund" during her residence in the Tower and traces of Akeman Street, together with spots in which remains of Roman buildings have been found. The gardens possess great wealth of plants, and contain two temples dedicated respectively to Diana and Hygeia; the Cascade, artificially constructed, but looking entirely natural; the Fountain, modelled after that of the Piazza Navona at Rome; and some fine specimens of statuary and architecture, modelled after the antique. The palace was founded in 1705, but not completed till after the great duke's death. It was designed by Vanbrugh, and is esteemed his masterpiece, and it cost about £300,000. It consists of a centre and two wings connected by colonnades, forms three sides of a square, enclosing a court, measures 348 feet along the front, and is in the Grecian style, faulty and very heavy, yet shows such skilful combination of porticoes, colonnades, and towers as to look highly imposing. The chief apartments are the hall, 67 feet high, with ceilings allegorically representing the battle of Blenheim ; the great dining-room, at one time thick with pictures by Rubens and Vandyke; the saloon, with walls and ceiling decorated by La Guerre; the library, 183 feet long, with marble statue of Queen Anne by Rysbrach; and the chapel, with marble monument of the great Duke and his Duchess by Rysbrach, and with a Lombard pulpit in Derbyshire spar. The collection of paintings and of objects of vertu was one of the largest and choicest in Britain, insomuch that Waaggen said-" If nothing were to be seen in England but Blenheim, with its park and treasures of art, there would be no reason to repent the journey to this country." This valuable collection of gems and paintings, as well as the library, have now all been dispersed. The Ansidei Madonna, by Raphael, was acquired for the National Gallery at a cost of £70,000.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5

Administration

The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County Oxfordshire
Hundred Wootton
Liberty Oxford
Poor Law union Woodstock

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


Directories & Gazetteers

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Newspapers and Periodicals

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