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"You Are Cordially Invited" Blenheim Palace, PBS 5:30 PM Central time Wed. Dec. 8th, 2021

"You Are Cordially Invited", a tour of Blenheim Palace.
On many PBS stations 5:30 PM Central time Wednesday, December 8th, 2021.
(This is the time it will come on our local channel 8 here in Nashville.)
Check your local TV schedule, as well as check for the time it will be on in your area.
This is a 30-minute program touring Blenheim Palace with an interior decorator.
I thought many of you would enjoy this program.

Posted by
2904 posts

Blenheim Palace was one of the stops on our Rick Steves Best of England tour we took a couple of years ago. For those of you signed up for this tour in 2022, you are in for a real treat. This tour is just one amazing sight after another.

Posted by
2058 posts

I’m disappointed it isn’t scheduled to air in Atlanta on our public TV stations. I will check PBS Passport.

Posted by
1239 posts

Just read the 2022 Best of England (and Wales) tour and it looks great! I would make the same suggestions for a tour. You will want to visit, the next trips, the English Treasure Houses, the sister Palaces of Blenheim: Beaulieu, Burghley House, Castle Howard, Chatsworth, Harewood House, Hatfield House, Holkham Hall, Leeds Castle and Woburn Abbey. Everyone has an intriguing history and a fabulous decor. A few are National Trust Properties and some still are lived in by a Duke.

Posted by
2904 posts

Judy B, good idea; Passport should have it.

Kathleen, thanks so much for your excellent suggestions! Roughly half of the ones you named are on our itinerary for spring 2022, if we get to go. Covid and possible new restrictions being the only reason if we don't go.

Posted by
1267 posts

It might not be scheduled elsewhere because it's not new. 2018.

Posted by
2904 posts

Liz, true; it is not new, so therefore, used as a re-run to fill a time slot as needed, I guess.
Thank you for that information.

CD in DC, "Is this a rerun of a 2018 program?"--Yes.
Thanks for your comment, and for the link.

Many programs on PBS seem to be scheduled for different times or different days, depending upon your location. I think your local program director at your local PBS station makes these choices.
And certainly when they are re-runs, as Liz and CD noted, above. Possibly "pulled off the shelf" so to speak, and used when they need to fill a time slot on the schedule.

Be on the lookout for another program with the same host.
I frequently see it on the schedule. I assume, also a re-run from 2018.
"You Are Cordially Invited", a tour of Highclere Castle. (As we all know, used in Downton Abbey)

I am sure it would be available using Passport or the link provided by CD if you search for it.

Posted by
8210 posts

Thanks Rebecca! I’d love to see Blenheim and will look for it here.

Posted by
4211 posts

For people that can't get this on their local stations, currently, I was able to figure out that in Minnesota, tpt is showing it Sunday, January 9th at 11am. Given the time they are showing it, I'm wondering if it has been aired before. I did not find my local PBS station's website search to be very user friendly. Just as an FYI, for my station, at least, "You are Cordially Invited" yielded a result where Blenheim Palace did not.

It is on passport, but, I provide this information for folks that do not have passport.

Posted by
2904 posts

dplaunderville and Jules, thanks for your comments.

Susan, I hope you enjoy the program.

Posted by
464 posts

Thank you. I am watching the program via PBS Passport streaming.
I just finished reading Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. Consuelo was 18 when she married the Duke of Marlborough and became the mistress of Blenheim. It is interesting to see the actual palace.

Posted by
1595 posts

We were able to watch the program via our iPads (connected to our tv) last night. If you Google “pbs you’re cordially invited” you will find the program. I agree that the presenter is not as engaging as Lucy Worsley but still fun to watch as we visited Blenheim in the past.

Posted by
1841 posts

Why is Blenheim called a palace? I imagine that’s a particular tag for a special reason but when I asked a few people on our visit I didn’t get an answer. Just curious, thanks.

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2904 posts

Kateja, it's an interesting story about Consuelo Vanderbilt marrying the Duke of Marlborough, pushed into it by her mother. If you have a chance to go see Blenheim, you should go. It's far more stunning "in person" than it could ever be on the TV screen.

Mary, I am glad you found the program and are able to watch that way. I should not have compared the host to Lucy, because Lucy's the best. Not a fair competition. It's an enjoyable program anyhow, I think.

Denny, sorry to hear that no one gave you an explanation when you were there. I'm not sure a lot of people know the real reason for it to be called a palace.
My best guess is this:

There was a royal palace built here in 1129 by King Henry I. Woodstock Palace. It was not as grand a palace as some others, but was used as a royal hunting lodge. The land or park that is now the grounds of Blenheim could be used only by the king, and was stocked with deer. Several royal weddings and births took place at this palace through the medieval times.
The medieval kings of England continued to use it as a part time residence.
The signing of the Treaty of Woodstock (1247) between Henry III of England and Llewelyn the Last (of Wales) took place here.
King Henry VII, father of Henry VIII, built more onto the castle in the 1490's.
Elizabeth I, before her succession, was imprisoned there by her half-sister Mary I between 1554 and 1555.
Woodstock Palace was bombarded and ruined by Oliver Cromwell's troops during the Civil War.

The land was then given, by Queen Anne, to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, for his victories in the War of the Spanish Succession, including the Battle of Blenheim (1704).
When he built Blenheim Palace, he used many of the old stones from the ruined Woodstock Palace.
This can be the only reason it is called a palace, I believe, because it was built on the site of the old medieval palace; it replaced a palace, so he was allowed to call it a palace.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, was at the height of his fame at this time from his many victories in the war. Queen Anne would have allowed him to have called his new residence anything he wished. He and his wife were favorites of the Queen and were members of her inner circle of friends (at that time.) There was later a falling out between them.

Posted by
9556 posts

Thanks for all the history Rebecca! Sadly not on my PBS but will do a search for it. I'd love to see it decorated for Christmas!

Posted by
8210 posts

Kateja, I enjoyed reading that book too!
What a great life they all had.

Posted by
2904 posts

Pam, you're welcome. I would love to see Blenheim decorated for Christmas, too!

deplaunderville, thanks for that information.

Susan, they did all have a great life.

And now for the rest of the story about Consuelo......
The marriage between Consuelo Vanderbilt and the 9th Duke of Marlborough ended in divorce, eventually. Consuelo had one more marriage to a French airplane pilot. After his death, she moved back to the USA and built a house near West Palm Beach, Florida. She also had a house in Southampton, N.Y.

Consuelo is buried in the cemetery at St Martin's Church in Bladon near Woodstock, near her son, the 10th Duke of Marlborough. Also buried there are Sir Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, and his parents Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome, who was also an American heiress from New York.
Many tourists who go to Blenheim make a trip to this church to see the graves.

The town of Woodstock, just outside the gates of Blenheim Palace, is interesting to visit. There are several good pubs, hotels, and restaurants there.
Woodstock can be reached by bus from nearby Oxford.

Blenheim Palace passed on to the son of Consuelo Vanderbilt and the 9th Duke of Marlborough; the 10th Duke of Marlborough, then on down through the line of the Dukes of Marlborough.

Posted by
2904 posts

For anyone interested in knowing more about the Vanderbilt family,
Anderson Cooper (with co-author Katherine Howe) has just written and published a new book,
"Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty", a history of the Vanderbilt family going back to his Vanderbilt ancestors who came to New Amsterdam in the 16th Century.
There is a chapter about Consuelo Vanderbilt and her parents in there.

Posted by
1841 posts

Rebecca, thank you. The history of these places is always fascinating. We quite recently subscribed to AcornTV primarily to continue Midsomer Murders and other cozy mysteries. They are promoting a show now with Mary Berry, Country House Secrets where she “relates the rich history of Britain’s greatest stately homes through the prism of food, uncovering their culinary stories and cooking recipes inspired by their pasts”. I’ve never seen her or her baking program but we have toured many of the stately homes and lately have organized our trips around them. Thanks again. Also a big fan of PBS.

Posted by
2904 posts

Denny, you're welcome. You wrote:
"we have toured many of the stately homes and lately have organized our trips around them."
We also try to include historic homes (and castles) in our plans when we travel in England.
We watch PBS a lot, and watch the schedule for any programs hosted by Lucy Worsley.

We love Midsomer Murders! We don't yet have AcornTV, but maybe we should get it.

The Smithsonian Channel sometimes has very good programs on British houses and castles. I watched a two part series yesterday on Hampton Court Palace that was excellent.

Posted by
8210 posts

Rebecca, thanks for the continued story of Consuela, I didn’t know any of that, maybe I didn’t finish the book?? All I know from what I did read was that they all lived in the lap of luxury with no drama.

Denny, I think you’ll enjoy Mary Berry, I love her. She was one of two judges for The Great British Baking Show which was really enjoyable to watch. She and the other host, Paul Hollywood, have also done many shows with just the two of them baking together at Christmastime.

I love Midsomer and all the cozy British Murder Mystery shows too. Much, if not all the shows, on Acorn are shown on PBS in my area. I had Acorn for a minute. Britbox is another good platform.

Posted by
2904 posts

Susan, you're welcome.
The book you read may not have contained the information that I have given.

You may wish to continue reading about Consuelo's life by reading her autobiography, published in 1953.
"The Glitter and the Gold", by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan.

Posted by
2904 posts

To do a review of the program. The program aired yesterday evening. Our tour of Blenheim began in the Great Hall, just as our in-person tour did while we were on the Rick Steves Best of England tour. The interior is very ornate, with many antiques; furniture, large vases and china sets in breakfront cabinets to be seen.
The tour then moved down the hallway, showing numerous paintings, pausing before a huge portrait of Consuelo Vanderbilt. The tour then continued through various rooms, with more paintings, furniture, and opulent fabrics used for draperies and upholstered furniture. A set of antique Chippendale chairs was seen.
Then we moved on to the bedroom where Sir Winston Churchill was born. His parents did not live in Blenheim, but were visiting for a weekend house party. The bed where he was born is a plain brass bed. Baby pictures of Winston are in frames all around the room, on the wall, and on tabletops. This is a relatively plain room compared to the ornate rooms seen elsewhere in Blenheim.
The tour concluded with the daughter of the current Earl taking us into the family living quarters, the rooms the public never sees. These have been decorated by her, as she is an interior decorator, with a practice in London.
The tour was then over, as the Earl's daughter escorted our host back to the front door.

This was a very enjoyable program and definitely worth watching.

For those of you who have visited Blenheim, this was a good second look at the building and its lovely furnishings.
For those of you who have not yet been to Blenheim, I hope this will be a good preview for a future visit.

Posted by
8210 posts

Rebecca, yes, I’d be very interested in reading more. Especially the Anderson Cooper (love him) book. Thanks!

Posted by
2904 posts

Susan, I'm also a fan of Anderson Cooper! I expect the book will be excellent.

Several years ago, he and his mother wrote a book about their relationship, family secrets, Gloria's memories of her childhood and more. You may be interested in that one, too.
"The Rainbow Comes and Goes; A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss"; by Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt:

From the Barnes and Noble page; One of the reviews by a customer says:
"Truth is stranger than fiction, The Rainbow Comes and Goes, the memoir by Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper prove it. In a collection of emails mother and son discuss very personal things in a very impersonal way. Gloria talks about her life, beginning with her first tragedy at 18 months old when her father dies, the custody trial between her mother and aunt revealing some scandalous discoveries about her mother on to the summer she lost her innocence and into her tumultuous love affairs and marriages to the tragic loss of her husband and son. Cooper talks about what it was like being her son and their shared tragedies. What starts as a seemingly impersonal email exchange morphs into a very personal conversation between mother and son and reveal the love and respect they have for each other in spite of the glitz of fame and fortune."

You may also be interested in Gloria Vanderbilt's autobiography published many years ago, the story of her turbulent childhood,
"Little Gloria, Happy At Last".

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2904 posts

In the days after his mother's death, Anderson Cooper ran a special on CNN,
"Nothing Left Unsaid", a film he had made about his mother.
It is a collection of interviews he had done with his mother, covered her childhood, Vanderbilt family history and family tree, and more.
She told about what it was like to live in Old New York before all the grand old family homes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Whitneys were torn down to make room for skyscrapers and office buildings.
She told the stories of her romances (a brief time as the girlfriend of Frank Sinatra) and marriages.
She and Anderson laughed and joked as he interviewed her and asked some personal questions.
They shared a certain little way of laughing and giggling.
There were many old photos of Anderson as a child with his mother and father.
She talked about her rise as a fashion designer, how she made and lost a fortune with Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans, and about her lifelong love of art.
They took us into her art studio, where she did paintings and collages using found objects. She talked about her favorite aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who taught her to paint as a child.

If you ever see this program on the TV schedule, don't miss it.
Get out the box of tissues; you will laugh and you will cry as you watch this.
It was the best documentary I've ever seen.
Anderson Cooper is brilliant.

EDIT: Available to stream on HBO.

Posted by
2904 posts

More about Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (Gloria's aunt) and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

She was an American sculptor and artist who was the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 1931.
Much of the art that originally formed the Whitney Museum was her own collection--paintings and sculpture--and her own artwork.

She was a member of the Vanderbilt family, the daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II.
She married into another wealthy New York City family. Her husband was Harry Payne Whitney, who inherited a fortune in oil, tobacco and banking.
Harry Whitney died in 1930, leaving his widow Gertrude an estate valued at $72 million.
This was in addition to the fortune Gertrude had inherited from her own father and grandfather.

In 1934, she was at the center of a highly publicized court battle with her sister-in-law, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, for custody of her ten-year-old niece, Gloria Vanderbilt. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney did win custody of her niece at the end of the custody battle.

Gloria Vanderbilt grew up under the care of her aunt, spending much time with the two of them drawing, painting, sculpting and talking about art.

Gloria Vanderbilt was the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Her father (Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt) had been the son of Cornelius II, and the brother of Gertrude. He died at a young age, leaving his millions to Gloria Vanderbilt and her half-sister.

Books about Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney:
"The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made" by Gertrude Whitney's granddaughter, Flora Miller Biddle. (Pub. 1999)
"Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: A Biography" by B. H. Friedman (Pub. 1978)

To me, the most amazing part of this story is that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney founded the Whitney Museum of American Art.
That is an incredible accomplishment for a woman, especially in the 1930's in a world completely dominated by men.

Posted by
8210 posts

Wow Rebecca, you always have the best info, back-story, history on so much and the best recommendations. I’m interested in all of this. Thank you.

Posted by
2904 posts

Susan, thank you. I sometimes tend to blather on and on, but glad the information was interesting to you.
You are welcome. Glad to give some history and back story to things.

I think you and I are the only forum members interested in this subject at this point, so I will wind it down.

To get back to the original focus of this thread, Consuelo Vanderbilt was the first cousin of Gertrude Vanderbilt (and of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, father of Gloria, grandfather of Anderson Cooper). Their fathers were brothers.

Without the fortune that Consuelo Vanderbilt brought to the marriage, there might be no Blenheim Palace today. Her husband confessed to her on their wedding night that he was only marrying her to get her fortune in order to save Blenheim. (He was out of money and had gambling debts.) So without Consuelo, the house might be a ruin today.
It is only right that the large full-length portrait of Consuelo dominates the room at Blenheim.

And now you know her story if you go to Blenheim Palace and see her portrait.

Posted by
27476 posts

I think you and I are the only forum members interested in this subject at this point, so I will wind it down.

oh, too bad. I've been reading every word - just quietly...

Posted by
2904 posts

Thank you, Nigel.
Good to know someone was interested besides Susan and myself!

Posted by
17 posts

I loved reading your comments. I have read both books on Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt. I will be visiting Blenheim in June. We are staying at the McDonald Bear hotel next to the palace.