Blenheim Palace and World War II
Blenheim Palace offers a programme, which looks at life in the Palace and on the Estate during the Second World War. This programme is delivered through a tour, during which the following information will be developed and expanded.
In 1939 the Palace became home to a school evacuated from Malvern. Malvern College took over the State Rooms using them as dormitories and classrooms. The boys even had lessons in the bathrooms. As well as thoroughly enjoying the grounds, the boys also did fire watch on the roof and night patrols through the Park. The school stayed for one academic year and the Palace was then used by MI5. The Education Department at Blenheim was fortunate enough to interview some of the boys (now in their 80s) and hear first hand what life was like at the Palace as an evacuee.
The impact of war on the family
The Marlborough family threw themselves into the war effort. The Duke went back into the army. The Duchess became Commandant of the ATS, President of the Red Cross and Head of the WVS. The family shared their home with Malvern College and later MI5.
Blenheim Park and the War effort
The Park was used by the Home Guard and as a brief home for a division of Canadian soldiers. The lake and the land were used to produce as much food as possible. Estate workers joined the armed forces and the lake was used in preparation for the D Day landings.
Preparations for war
The Palace prepared carefully for war. Staff was trained to be ARP wardens, windows were blacked out, roof beams were fire proofed and buckets and stirrup pumps were placed at strategic places near the stairs. Lives of those who lived and worked at Blenheim changed forever.