Wednesday, 5 March 2014

WWI Exhibition ‘A Great Estate at War – Land, Sea and Air’ 15th February – 21st April 2014 at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace Long Library Hospital

A fascinating new exhibition revealing Blenheim Palace’s role in the First World War.

‘A Great Estate at War – Land, Sea and Air’ explores the wartime stories of both the Spencer Churchill family, including Sir Winston Churchill, and workers on the Estate, as well as the Palace’s use as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers.

The exhibition, which is on show in the recently renovated Gallery Room in the Stables Courtyard, runs from 15th February – 21st April 2014.

As well as a series of authentic artefacts, photographs and diaries from the time, the exhibition also features a full-scale recreation of a WWI trench, scale models and costume characters to bring real wartime stories to life.

The exhibition includes a snapshot of Winston Churchill’s service in the front line and shows how the formidable ladies of Blenheim made their own remarkable contribution to the war effort.

Blenheim Palace Wounded Soldiers on West Front

There are fascinating accounts of the ‘flying cousins’, relations of The Marlborough family who served in the Royal Flying Corps in France, flying over the trenches and behind enemy lines as well as photos of the cousins, models of the aircraft they would have flown, and the clothing they would have worn to keep them warm whilst flying.

The never before seen diaries of Oscar Guest, a cousin of the 9th Duke, who flew on many reconnaissance and combat missions before being seriously wounded will also be on display for the very first time.

The conflict affected everyone who lived and worked on the Estate and the exhibition also gives an insight into the changes brought by war, the heroism of the local people and the joy when they came home. 

The Long Library became a convalescent hospital during the war and there is a recreation of a section of this hospital, using authentic medical equipment from the time, kindly donated by the Red Cross.

Blenheim Palace Wounded Soldiers
on South Steps

To bring the subject of war full circle, and to honour the men and women who so bravely fight for our country today, the exhibition will share the story of Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, who worked for the Estate between the ages of 17 and 18, and whose mother has worked for Blenheim Place for many years.

Rupert was tragically killed in action in Helmand Province in 2009.

A dedicated collection for Help for Heroes and the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal will take place during the exhibition to raise vital funds.

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