Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Inside Blenheim

The magical gardens at Blenheim Palace.
by HILARY GEARY ROSS

Over the pond to take in all the festivities in England in the beginning of the summer ... Amazingly, it was warm and sunny every single day there, unlike New York’s cold and wet June! 

Speaking of "Sunny," the highlight of our trip was a weekend at the dazzling Blenheim Palace as guests of Sunny and Lily Marlborough, aka the Duke and Duchess of M. Nothing is more delightful than staying with the beauteous Lily and Sunny. They are the most gracious hosts -- divine, charming and fun!
The rose garden at Blenheim Palace.
A closer look at the Blenheim rose garden.
The Secret Garden at Blenheim.
So, we said goodbye to Claridge’s for the weekend and motored out to the palace, this World Heritage site near Woodstock, about an hour and twenty minute drive from London, just in time for a cozy dinner in the private quarters.

It was a great big treat to stay in such a remarkable architectural wonder bursting with priceless treasures, collections and such extraordinary history. Among a zillion other things, It was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and is set in 2100 acres of stunningly beautiful parkland landscaped by the famed designer ‘‘Capability’ Brown. There are vast green sweeping lawns, remarkable follies, statuary galore, vast formal gardens including a charming secret garden; an Italian garden, a lush rose garden, and more plus a magnificent Lake, plus an enchanting chapel, L’Orangerie and so much more.
L'Orangerie at Blenheim. Room at Blenheim Palace where Winston Churchill was born.
The beautful italian gardens outside the private quarters at Blenheim.
Dame Vivian Duffield. Hilary Geary Ross and Lady Annabelle Astor.
Dixon Boardman, Dame Vivian Duffield, and Viscount William Astor before dinner at Blenheim Palace.
Fountains at Blenheim.
On Saturday a few more guests joined us for lunch including my sister and brother-in-law Robin and John Pickett along with the Marlboroughs’ houseguests, Dixon and Arriana Boardman, Marina Zangrilli plus Ana Cristina Alvarado and more.

We dined that night “at home” with cocktails on the terrace and then inside to the dining room at one long glorious table. We feasted on a scrumptious meal topped off with the delectable white Blenheim peaches. 

Among the lucky guests were Viscount William and Lady Annabelle Astor, Dame Vivian Duffield, Wilbur Ross, Dixon and Arriana Boardman, Ana Cristina Alvarado, Sunny’s niece Serena Balfour, Hugh Sykes and more.
Lily Marlborough, Robin and John Pickett, and Ana Christina Alvarado at Blenheim.
Next day back to good old Claridge’s to be greeted with “welcome home” by the famed concierges or as the Brits say “hall porters,” Martin and Thomas. Next evening, we stopped by Luce and Winston Churchill’s heavenly house for drinks along with Mandy and Ambassador Mary Ourisman, Tom Quick, Brett Price and others before dinner at Harry's Bar, one of the late Mark Birley’s fabulous clubs.

The Churchill abode is oh so chicly decorated by Luce and is enhanced by the collection of Winston Churchill's paintings and memorabilia. What a treat to take in all of this history while sipping icy rose champagne.

Then it was back to NYC to open up our umbrellas, as it was still raining!
Winston and Luce Churchill's apartment in London.
Portrait of Winston Churchill at Winston and Luce's London apartment. Luce Churchill in front of her portrait.
Winston Churchill at his flat with a statue of his grandfather.
 

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