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Photographer: Kelbert McFarland Photography


Dukes of Marlborough & Marquess of Blanford Houses

Today in history in 1940 Winston Spencer-Churchill was born (not the one you are probably thinking of, but his grandson). The Spencer-Churchill family are the Dukes of Marlborough and Marquesses of Blanford. In the male line, they are Spencers (as in Diana) and the Churchill actually came from the female side around the beginning of the 19th century. We have already looked at the estates of the Spencer family in a post about Diana. So in this post we will just look at the Churchill side of the family. The first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, is who Blenheim Palace was built for in the early 18th century. It was passed through his daughter in a special act of parliament to his grandson, Charles Spencer, thus bringing the Spencers into the family. The Spencer-Churchills have lived at Blenheim ever since.

Some of the Dukes were born on other estates, like the last Duke in Sir Wintson Churchill's line, who was born at Garboldisham Hall (below).

The last Duke in Sir Winston Churchill's line was his grandfather. His own father, Lord Randolph, was born in London at Wilton Terrace (below).

However Sir Winston Churchill himself was born at Blenheim Palace. And the family seat remains at Blenheim to this day. So that is the house we will focus on. The house was designed in the English Baroque style.

This 18th century engraving shows Blenheim as it looked originally. Today the palace hosts the public at events such as the Halloween Dinner shown below.

The house is a British national treasure. The state rooms are especially ornate.

The following images from Vanity Fair a few years back show the family relaxing in the palace, which they have brought some modern touches to.

It looks like they traded some antique furniture for comfortably upholstered pieces.

Next is the dining room set for Christmas.

The Official Magazine Britain also covered some behind-the-scenes of the palace including a bedroom, and China storage, shown below.

We love that the walls are fully covered in tapestry here.

We also wish we had a whole room for China- we could definitely fill it! The next photo is the room in which Sir Winston Churchill was actually born.

We will now look at the branch of the family who inherited the titles, Winston's first cousins. Winston's uncle, the 8th Duke, resided at Blenheim. His nephew, the 9th, however, was born in India. He went on to marry Consuela Vanderbilt whose fortune saved the palace. This story about one of the American Dollar princesses is similar to Downton Abbey and is thought to be what Edith Wharton based The Buccaneers on, as she was a friend of Ms. Vanderbilt. The 10th and 11th dukes were able to enjoy Blenheim due to her. The current Duke of Marlborough is the son of the cousin of our birthday boy in this post, James Spencer-Churchill. He is now in charge of the family estate. His son, George is Marquess of Blanford and will become Duke someday. He is known for polo and his recent wedding at Blenheim, which we will post pictures of below via Tatler. He went to Harrow and then the University College London alongside our English cousins according to the internet so we will have to see if they know this latest Spencer-Churchill.

You can read about his new wife, Camilla Thorp, here. Though we chose to go the other direction in this piece, and focus on the Spencer-Churchill name only and the modern dukes, we want to note that the Churchill name alone goes far back into history. In the middle ages the Churchills were knights and lords of Dorset. Before that the surname was De Courcil and even earlier in France, De Leon. We will try to cover these in a future post!