John Albert Edward William Spencer-Churchill was better known as 'Bert'. He was Duke during World War II and welcomed the boys from Malvern College as evacuees, and later allowed MI5 to use the Palace as a base.
The Duke himself rejoined his regiment as Lieutenant-Colonel and worked as a liaison officer between the British Army and the American armed forces in Britain. Meanwhile, the Duchess ensured that the Palace was equipped for War and continued to work tirelessly in her role as President of the local branch of the Red Cross.
Bert’s principal legacy at Blenheim Palace was his decision to open the Palace to the public on 1st April 1950.
He also installed the fountains in the Water Terraces and designed the Secret Garden, a place where he could enjoy peace and quiet away from the visitors. Today, the 10th Duke's secret retreat is open to explore and has become a firm favourite of many of our visitors.
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