John Churchill (1650-1722) had a military and diplomatic career that lasted nearly 40 years and skillfully survived the treacherous reigns of Charles II, James II, William III and Mary and Queen Anne. Considered one of England’s greatest generals, Churchill’s most famous victories were in the campaign against France’s King Louis XIV at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706) and Oudenaarde (1708). Political controversy and charges of public corruption brought his retirement from public life in 1711. Having been given the manor of Woodstock by a grateful nation, Churchill had the huge Baroque mansion named for his great victory was built between 1708 and 1722 by architect John Vanbrugh.
I took this picture early in the morning of a solitary artist enjoying peaceful tranquility in the park at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and seat of the Dukes of Marlborough. On our last trip to England, my daughter, Heather, and I ran out of time and had to cut Blenheim Palace from our itinerary. So glad we were able to get there this year, the Palace and the park are spectacular! Being early, we signed up for a tram tour of the park and turned out to be his only riders and basically got a private tour by our very knowledgeable driver and guide. He stopped and we got out to take in the vista and some history and this is when I snapped this photo. The park is beautifully designed, of course, by Lancelot “Capability Brown,” so called because he liked to tell clients he would “realise the capability” of their garden. My daughter and I were on a pilgrimage to Arundel Castle, ancestral home of the Howard’s, for the International Jousting Competition in July as guests of the 18th Duke of Norfolk, Edward Howard. The Duke of Norfolk also holds the hereditary title of Earl Marshall of England, being the senior duke of the realm. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dukes are our 11th, 12th and 13th great grandfathers.
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