John Spencer-Churchill brought stability to Blenheim Palace. He was an upright Victorian gentleman, with a wife, Frances, and 11 children.
Frances continued the ducal tradition of helping others, and founded schools in Woodstock and the neighbouring village of Bladon. Despite the Marlborough's relatively limited income, Frances hosted weekend parties and glamorous balls.
When the Duke went to Ireland as Viceroy, the Duchess worked tirelessly to raise money to reduce the effects of the second Irish potato famine. For this, she was admired throughout Ireland and received a personal letter from Queen Victoria thanking her for her work.
On his return the Duke found that his finances were even more depleted, so he sold the Sunderland Library, a collection of over 10,000 books. This began the process which enabled the 8th Duke to dispose of other major parts of the Blenheim Palace collection.
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