Climbing Great Buildings
Episode 8: Blenheim Palace
Dr Jonathan Foyle, architectural historian and novice climber, scales Britain's most iconic structures, from the Normans to the present day, to reveal the buildings' secrets and tell the story of how our architecture and construction have developed over 1,000 years.
The next step of Jonathan's journey celebrating British architecture takes him to the epitome of the English stately home - Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Built in the early 1700s as a reward for the Duke of Marlborough's defeat of King Louis XIV of France, it's one of the finest examples of English Baroque buildings in the country.
With unprecedented access to Blenheim Palace, aided by champion climber Lucy Creamer, Jonathan scales the building to investigate the innovations and techniques used to construct it and to decipher the stories and propaganda carved all over the building. He climbs over 100 feet to reveal the story of how a bawdy playwright, a brave general and his strong-willed wife combined and clashed to create this most audacious masterpiece. He zips across the courtyard to see how the duke's epic victory is celebrated in stone through flamboyant and satirical sculpture, and he dangles precariously inside the Great Hall trying not to break the lamps, worth 250,000 pounds, to get a view of the spectacular hand-painted ceiling. Show less