Cotswolds & Blenheim

So after leaving Oxford we drove on up to Broadway in the Cotswolds and stayed in the amazing Lygon arms a 13th Century Inn. Many a historic figure has stayed or sat in front of the roaring log-burning open fireplaces, or dined in the vaulted ceilinged Great Hall. Oliver Cromwell stayed the night before the Battles of Worcester in 1651. John Travis carved his name into the arch of the front door, dating back to 1620. King Charles I, Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, and his supporters gathered in the hotel.

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A little drive round some of the lovely villages the Cotswolds has to offer. Bourton-On-The-Water, the Venice of the Cotswolds is made up of several tiny stone bridges across the waterways. With lovely coffee shops and Pubs all along the waterside.

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The Slaughters – made up of Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter are also so picturesque, with tiny little cottages all along the waterways.

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Then we hopped in the car and made our way to back towards Oxford to visit Blenheim Palace which is based in Woodstock (any Deborah Harkness fans will know this as the location of The Old Lodge home to Matthew Clairmont). It is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. One of my other loves besides books is Christian Dior, who is one of the inspirations and reason I work in Fashion, in 1954 Christian Dior showcased his Winter collection at Blenheim Palace in front of Princess Margaret.

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Currently Blenheim has an exhibition ‘A Passion for Fashion’ showcasing some of the stunning dresses that have wandered these halls – including pieces by Dior himself.

Blenheim also has an amazing Library – what an amazing weekend I spent visiting amazing libraries (all the more special for the Dior pieces doted around the shelves).

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The grounds are also stunning – taking inspiration from the Palace of Versialles. Sparkling fountains, mythological statues and landscaped gardens are amazing to walk around.

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The grounds are also home to a very special tree that was used in the filming of Harry Potter and featured as The Whomping Willow, which was just as impressive as you may have pictured it in your mind!

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Another long drive had us in Shrewsbury, birthplace and school to Charles Darwin. The Library was previously a school where Charles Darwin visited and features a statue dedicated to the man himself.

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All in all a very literary, educational and inspirational weekend!

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