BLENHEIM Palace will remain under the control of trustees as the late Duke of Marlborough’s heir – Jamie Spencer-Churchill – inherited his father’s title.

After the estate announced the death of its custodian at midday yesterday, former Marquess of Blandford Jamie Spencer-Churchill, 58, known as Jamie Blandford, was confirmed as the 12th Duke of Marlborough.

A palace spokesman declined to comment on whether the 12th Duke – who had a well-publicised drug addiction – inherit his family’s residence, but it is understood he could become a trustee of the companies that run it.

The 11,500-acre palace and its vast grounds, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987, are thought to be worth £100m.

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It was the Duke’s life’s work to preserve it for future generations and it has grown in recent years into one of Britain’s most notable tourist attractions, bringing in about 500,000 visitors every year.

The Duke introduced the Pleasure Gardens, including the railway, maze and Butterfly House, and also established the Churchill Exhibition.

The palace has become a venue for a wide variety of events including location shoots for films and movies, and charity events, including the Oxford Mail-backed OX5 Run for the Children’s Hospital.

In 1994 the estate was at the centre of a bitter court battle, when the 11th Duke attempted to safeguard it from his son, the Marquess.

The Duke won at the High Court in 1994 and was later reported as saying: “I think there have been black sheep in every family and there’s nothing new about that.”

However the two later appeared to improve their relations when the Marquess – who during the 1990s spent several spells in prison and had a drug addiction – reformed his behaviour in 2012.

Now according to the Land Registry, the palace is owned by two bodies called Blenheim Trustee Company Limited, numbered “1” and “2”. Both are shown by Companies House to have had the same 10 appointments to their trustee boards in March this year – including Sir Rocco Forte, owner of Rocco Forte Hotels, as well as the Withers Trust Corporation.

Also on the board is Lord Edward Albert Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 11th Duke’s 40-year-old son to his third ex-wife, Countess Rosita Douglas-Stjernorp.

He was appointed as a director in 2007.

The palace was given to the first Duke of Marlborough John Churchill by Queen Anne and a grateful nation, after his famous victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.

Talking about safeguarding the palace’s future, the 11th Duke said: “Although the Battle of Blenheim was won in 1704, the Battle for Blenheim continues in the unceasing struggle to maintain the structure of the building and to obtain the finance for the future.”


  • SITUATED in a beautiful 11,500-acre estate, Blenheim Palace in Woodstock was built in the early 18th century in the Baroque style
  • Its opulent splendour attracts tourists from across the globe, partly for its grandeur, and partly because it is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill
  • Boasting 187 rooms, the palace is larger than both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle
  • It was built as a gift for John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, as a reward for his victories against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, ending in 1704 with the Battle of Blenheim
  • The palace was built between 1705 and about 1722
  • At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved by cash from the Ninth Duke of Marlborough's marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt
  • It was named a World Heritage Site in 1987

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