Blenheim Newsletter February 2022

Keeping you up to date with all the latest news from Blenheim

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. We had such a great response from you, our local community, to our 2021 newsletters and we have found this to be a really useful way of sharing relevant information with you all and of generating a response. We’ll use each newsletter to update you on what’s happening at Blenheim Palace and beyond!

As you are aware we are currently closed for an exciting project. The revenue will go to one of our many restoration and conservation projects and we will continue to share these with you as they happen. The biggest of these is the Lake Dredge in 2022, which is the biggest in land dredge in the UK. So here is a taste of what’s coming up in 2022 at Blenheim Palace.

– Dominic Hare, CEO, Blenheim Palace


Marlborough 300 – celebrating the life of the 1st Duke of Marlborough

John Churchill was awarded the title of Duke of Marlborough and the land for what was to become Blenheim Palace by Queen Anne in gratitude for his courageous military leadership in battle.

A tactical master, his victories over Louis XIV in France changed the face of Europe, helped transform him in the eyes of the court where he hadn’t always been popular – he was once imprisoned in the Tower of London. But with impressive wins on the battlefield and his beautiful and strong-willed wife, Sarah – a love match rather than a marriage of business – by his side, he rose to dizzying heights in the court of Queen Anne.

The Churchills powerful influence, however, prompted plotting and scheming from other members of the court, forcing him into exile overseas until the death of Queen Anne and a new monarch in George I made it safe for him to return to England.

Come and explore the life and times of the first Duke of Marlborough at the Palace from April to June this year:

  • Battlefields and Baroque Exhibition
  • The 1st Dukes Pageant
  • Teas and Talks with experts
  • Virtual Events

Did you know:

  • John Churchill was a great favourite at court. Described as being ‘as handsome as an angel’ he took Charles II’s mistress Barbara Villiers as his lover. Barbara bore his first child and later gifted him £5,000 – a fortune in those days. She said she paid much for ‘very little service!’.
  • John’s wife Sarah Churchill was hugely influential in his life and career. The couple wed in secret in 1677/78 and had a long and happy marriage. Sarah had a very close and sometimes turbulent relationship with Queen Anne and was portrayed by Rachel Weisz in the Oscar-winning 2018 film The Favourite.
  • In 1679 Churchill is believed to have lost a duel with the playwright Thomas Otway following an altercation with an orange seller. He later also fought and lost a second duel with Admiral John Holmes over the same affair.
  • In 1682 John Churchill was aboard HMS Gloucester when it ran aground and around 200 lives were lost. Churchill and the Duke of York, later King James II, were among the only survivors whilst ‘many persons of consideration perished’.
  • In 1692, John Churchill spent five weeks imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of treason.
  • John Churchill is one of the few commoners in English history to have risen to the rank of Duke.
  • John Churchill was educated at St Paul’s School in London. He spent 3 – 4 years there before his education was interrupted by the Great Plague of London

Forthcoming Events

April

Battlefields & Baroque Exhibition: The Story of the 1st Duke of Marlborough15th April – 19th June
Easter Entertainment15th – 18th April
Jousting Tournament30th April – 2nd May

May

EV Live7th – 8th May
Blenheim Palace Triathlon28th – 29th May

June

Giffords Circus1st – 6th June
Food Festival at Blenheim Palace2nd – 5th June
Nocturne Live15th – 19th June
Flower Show at Blenheim Palace24th – 26th June

For a full list of events visit blenheimpalace.com

Please note all dates are subject to change. You are advised to check the website for finalised dates closer to the events.


Apply for a Blenheim Bursary

We are pleased to announce that the 2022 bursary application scheme is now open.

We are inviting grant applications from local projects and charities that focus their work on green and sustainable projects.

In 2021 Blenheim Bursary focused on gifting to local projects and charities working to bring people together in the local community. A total of 20 local charities, organisations and good causes received a share of the £50,000 available.

Since its launch at the end of 2018, the Blenheim Bursary has distributed in excess of £150,000 to more than 50 different organisations across our local communities.

The scheme is part of Blenheim’s ongoing commitment to more than double its charitable contributions to the community within 10 years.

To find out more about the Blenheim Bursary scheme and to download application forms for 2022 go to www.blenheim.org/bursary/


Blenheim Estate Apprentices

A lot of the skills used by those who work on the estate have been passed down from generation to generation. We believe, it’s incredibly important to keep these skills alive, which is why we invest in apprentices across all areas of the business, spanning forestry to digital marketing, shepherding to finance, and more.

Our apprentices have a unique hands-on work experience and the chance to really get stuck into estate life. We currently have an apprentice shepherdess who works within our farming team, and is learning how to become a shepherd (of course with her own sheepdog).

The two apprentice foresters are kept busy with our ancient woodlands and our nine new woodlands, to compliment this, they also work with local landscaping and forestry company, Nicholsons.

Created over centuries, our gardens are spectacular and require a lot of work, our two apprentice gardeners are kept busy! They are a key part of taking care of the gardens, lawns and parks and helping to develop them to their full potential.


Charity of the Year

We are pleased to announce Restore as Blenheim’s 2022 Charity of the Year. Restore is an award-winning Oxfordshire mental health charity that supports local people to take control of their own recovery, develop skills and lead meaningful lives.

As part of our support, we’ll be undertaking a series of fundraising and awareness building activities and events throughout 2022. Our Blenheim 7k Fun Run in May is an opportunity for participants to raise money for a charity of their choice and we would appreciate any volunteers to run on behalf of Restore.

To find out more about the Fun Run go to www.blenheimpalace.com/blenheim-7k-run/

To find out more about Restore go to www.blenheim.org/community/charity/


The Lake Dredge

We shared with you in our last update our plans for the dredge of Queen Pool which is now underway. You may also have seen some work beginning around the Pool in the past few weeks ahead of the full work which starts in April 2022. These are the enabling works which remove vegetation from around Queen Pool. We’re working closely with ecological experts to ensure the protection of wildlife throughout the project, and particularly during this phase.

Once the dredging begins in April, these machines will be working to remove the silt 12 hours a day, 5 days a week until early 2023, when the dredge is scheduled to complete. We will be taking the silt that’s removed up to High Park. So that we can do this safely, we need to build a compound and haul road which means that the Queen Pool ‘loop’ won’t be accessible whilst the work is taking place. Please see the map for details of where the work will be happening.

Name the Hopper

As the hoppers are being specially made for us, we would love local people to come up with their names. Our idea of Hoppy McHopface didn’t go down well with our team, so we need your help. Winners will have their suggestion put onto a hopper and receive a meal for a 4 at our Pizzeria in the Walled Garden. They’ll also win an annual pass so they can come and see their named hopper on Queen Pool throughout the year!

All you need to do is email your chosen name to marketing@blenheimpalace.com and we will pick the best ones which will be displayed on the Hoppers.

Ecology of the dredge

Important Ecosystem

The lake’s ecosystem is high in nitrogen and phosphates creating the perfect environment for algae, an important food source for the lake’s many fish, amphibians, and insects. The area is a designated Site of Significant Scientific Importance (SSSI) and attracts many overwintering wading birds which rely on the lake for food.

Wildlife surveys carried out by BSG Ecology ahead of the dredging have revealed the estate is home to a huge variety of wildlife including more than 50% of the UK’s different bat species, 36 types of wildfowl, water voles, badgers, otters, reptiles and a number of rare insect species.

Remo-Voles

The water vole lives along rivers, streams and ditches and around ponds and lakes, which makes our Queen Pool the perfect habitat for them. Due to the dredge activity taking place where the water voles reside, they are moving to a safe place for the duration of the work, allowing them to continue to live happily in the local area. We are working with Ecologists to make sure that the moving of the voles follows the good practice set out in the water vole Conservation Handbook, and fully licensed by Natural England.

Fish

When the Queen Pool water level was lowered in October 2018, all the fish were moved to the Great Lake and a net separates the two water habitats.


Work begins on Forest School site

In December we began our unprecedented tree planting project. In partnership with construction and regeneration group Morgan Sindall Group Plc, the first of 270,000 trees are being planted across nine new woodlands.

Our Rural Team is working with local landscaping and forestry company, Nicholsons, to create the new woodland areas and put up signage, waymarkers and fencing. All the trees will be fitted with biodegradable tree guards to minimise use of plastics.

The Rural Team has also been working on the new woodland site at Hordley Wood, near Wootton, which will be home to the brand new Hordley Wood Forest School. They have just finishd planting over 12,000 trees, most of which have been hard wood, with 25 different species.

The Hordley Wood Forest School woodland will be continuing our ancient oak legacy as some of the acorns being planted there have been cultivated from our 1000 year old trees in our ancient oak woodland on the estate.

Overall, the tree planting project will capture over 22,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next 25 years and includes wildflower meadows, open spaces and more than 15km of linked public footpaths.

We’re anticipating the Forest School works to begin later this year and we will keep you up to date on the build as it develops!


To keep up to date with all the latest Blenheim news and to help us communicate in a greener way going forward, please sign up for our digital newsletter by visiting www.blenheim.org

You can also follow our updates on our social media channels and websites.

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