Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two Stately Homes of England.

Back in London I realized that I would have to make some decisions about my career and staying in England. I enjoyed London in the 70's but the visa situation was getting to me. My big love was Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House but I needed to further my career.
I decided to enjoy my last few months in England and see as much as I could.

Elizabeth Regina

My parents decided to visit Europa and came to stay with us in London for a week. At the same time Luigi a priest  from Milan -that was a neighbor -decided to visit as well.
Neils apartment  had 3 bedrooms as well as a sleep sofa in the living room there was enough space.

My parents and me near Blenheim Palace.

I was the only one that could speak some Italian so I was the translator. That could get very stressful.
He and my father could not understand each other but it did not stop them from having  great conversations. After he returned to Italy he sent my parents a box of Italian wine.

We went to see "No, No ,Nanette" in the Drury Lane Theater with Dame Anna Neagle and Thora Hird. I don't think Luigi could understand much but he did enjoy the music.
We decided to take my parents into the English Countryside and  we visited Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire .

Blenheim Palace and landscape.

It  is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock and the residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. It is the only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace.

 Its construction was originally intended to be a gift to  John Churchill , Duke of Marlborough from a grateful nation and Queen Anne in return for the  military triumph against the French and Bavarians at the Battle of Blenheim.

Queen Anne

It was also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

The Gallery with the organ in the background.

Tapestry Room

Red Drawing Room

Dining Room at Blenheim

The Hallway.

Portrait of the 9th Duke of Marlborough and his American wife Consuelo Vanderbilt  and their children
by John Singer Sargent

Charles, 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871–1934) can be credited with saving both the palace and the family. Inheriting the near-bankrupt dukedom in 1892, he was forced to find a quick and drastic solution to the problems. Prevented by the strict social dictates of late 19th-century society from earning money, he was left with one solution; he had to marry money. In November 1896 he coldly and openly without love married the American railroad heiress and renowned beauty Consuelo Vanderbilt . The marriage was celebrated following lengthy negotiations with her divorced parents: her mother was desperate to see her daughter a Duchess, and the bride's father, William Vanderbilt  paid for the privilege. The final price was $2,500,000 (worth about $62m in 2007) in 50,000 shares of the capital stock of the Beech Creek Railways Company .The couple were given a further annual income each of $100,000 for life. The bride later claimed she had been locked in her room until she agreed to the marriage. The contract was actually signed in the vestry of St .Thomas Episcopal Church New York  immediately after the wedding vows had been made. In the carriage leaving the church, Marlborough told Consuelo he loved another woman, and would never return to America, as he "despised anything that was not British".
So the palace was saved by American money and  a very unhappy Duchess.

Another interesting fact about this family:-When Tina Onassis divorced Aristotle Onassis after he started the affair with the Opera Diva Maria Callas-Tina married  John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough in 1961.They divorced in 1971.
My mother- being a teacher- enjoyed the history and glamorous house  very much but  my father was more interested in the man made lakes, horses and the buildings.


After a week in London it was time for my parents  to continue their European tour.

 They went on to Switzerland where they visited the Bernina Sewing Machine Company that my father represented in South Africa.Then they went to Rome where they stayed at the Pensione Suisse near the Spanish Steps that Elsa and later I  always used when we went to Rome.

Pensione Suisse-Rome

They could not go to Greece as there was some political upheaval-being the early 70'-so they ended their tour in Israel where they visited the Holy Sites of the Bible.
I was sad to see them go.


Another Country Home we visited during this time was the medieval Arundel Castle in West Sussex.

Arundel Castle- seat of the Dukes of Norfolk.

Arundel Castle  is a  medieval castle. It was founded by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Roger became the first to hold the  Earldom of Arundel by the graces of the first Norman king William the Conqueror .

 From the 11th century onward, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home and has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. It is still the principal seat of the Norfolk family.

"The Surrender of Arundel Castle to Sir William Waller, January 6th, 1643 "
Painting by Charles Landseer.

The Chapel

Living Room

Dining Room

The Library

Arundel Castle Interiors

 Among the famous members of the Howard family are the 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524),  who with Sir Francis Drake repelled the Armada in 1588.
The 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1473-1554), was a uncle of two Queens;- Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, both of whom became wives of King Henry VIII (1491-1547).
Visiting these home makes history fun- and sets the imagination free.

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