James Bond & Blenheim Castle

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The world’s most famous spy, 007, is also one of the world’s most frequent fliers. But, in Spectre, the latest instalment of the movie franchise, Mr. Bond also stays close to home in England.

Yes, he’s spotted in Mexico, but he’s also foiling the plots of Spectre baddies at iconic English locations such as Blenheim Castle, Sir Winston Churchill’s childhood home. Before Bond could get there, we visited the stately home during the First World War Centenary celebrations in England in 2014. Here, we take you inside Blenheim – the stories behind the home may not be shaken, but they certainly are stirring.

Here, see part three of our First World War trip, Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace, like Highclere Castle, was more than just a grand home during the First World War. Currently the home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, the house was also converted into a convalescent hospital for the soldiers wounded in the conflict in Europe.

Winston’s aunts were formidable ladies, and would not be put off when creating the medical sanctuary. But it was a nun, Sister Munn, who ran the hospital. She asked her charges to write about their experiences at Blenheim. She believed that the mind had to heal as much as the body. These writings have become historical notes of record for the house during the bloody conflict of the Great War.

A brilliant example of English Baroque architecture, it is filled with portraits, porcelain and plenty of stories about the Spencer-Churchill clan and their American heiress saviours, including Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Under the direction of Winston’s cousin, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, The Parklands, also used extensively as treatment and therapy for the infirmed, are the work of “Capability Brown,” one of Britain’s pre-eminent landscape architects. The formal gardens feature designs by the French landscape architect, Achille Duchene.

Aside from The Churchill Exhibition, guided tours of the state rooms and other themed tours of the stunning gardens and parklands. A permanent interactive visitor experience, Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story, featuring tales of the last 300 years at Blenheim, through the eyes of the household staff.

Upstairs, downstairs, indeed.

Open daily until November 2; then Wednesday to Sunday from November 5 to December 14, 2014; www.blenheimpalace.com. The park remains open year round, except for Christmas Day. (For the author’s video tour of Blenheim Palace, see above.)

Blenheim Palace is a member of the Treasure Houses of England, 10 of the most magnificent palaces, stately homes and castles in England. www.treasurehouses.co.uk

This post is part three of a four-part series:

Part one: Commemorating the First World War – How England Remembers
Part two: Commemorating the First World War  Downton Abbey