On our last day in Oxford, we decided to have a drive out to Blenheim Palace and like a lot of places nowadays, we had to book a time slot before going. It was quite busy when we arrived, as the weather was nice, but possibly because of the lack of overseas visitors not too crowded.
As it was supposed to get hotter later in the day, we decided to visit the palace first, although having booked a time slot, we still had to queue for over half an hour. On entering, we listened to a guide who gave us a short introduction to the palace and new restrictions. We then headed for the Winston Churchill exhibition, Unfortunately, the queue for this was quite long so we decided to tour the rooms first.
All the rooms were very impressive with with large portraits of family members and royalty. Although, not all to my taste, one can only appreciate the skill going into painting these.
The first paintings I really liked were a series done of the palace and grounds by John Piper, a very under appreciated artist in my view. I really like the looseness of his work.
The tour takes you from one impressive room to another and none of them were too crowded by visitors. Unfortunately, you don't get to see any of the upstairs rooms, which would give you a more complete picture of the living quarters.
Outside we walked around the extensive grounds, seeing the impressive water features and sculptures, before continuing to see the place Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife and the rose gardens they would sit in.
The whole area is undergoing a 40 million pound makeover and the cascade water feature and lakes are being improved and many repairs taking place,. When finished, the grounds will be even more impressive.
After a pleasant walk, we decided to go back to the palace and see the Churchill exhibition as it was now a lot quieter. As well as learning about his life, I was interested to see the exhibition of his paintings. These were more impressive than I had expected, although I wouldn't have minded having the support he had from several prominent artists of the time, including Walter Sickert amongst them.
A pleasant day out and a change from city life. We even became members for a year, as part of the entrance fee. which means if we visit again we can get in for free. As a short break Oxford has a lot to offer and as more places open up, there will be plenty to keep you occupied.
I leave you with this quote from Winston Churchill that sums up the importance of art in these troubled times. He only had the war to think about!