Winston Churchill’s childhood pony Rob Roy has “returned” to Blenheim Palace’s historic stable block.
The pony is a model of his childhood equine companion, first ridden by the then seven-year-old Churchill in April 1882 during a stay at the palace.
He is in residence as part of a new exhibition, which opened on 17 May and highlights the “crucial role” horses have played throughout Blenheim Palace’s history.
Rob Roy is joined by a life-size Shire, made from willow, and an ornate carriage in a series of equestrian displays that make up the exhibition.
Churchill had strong connections with Blenheim. It was his birthplace, where he spent many of his formative years and also where he proposed to his wife Clementine.
A churchyard on the edge of the estate is his final resting place.
“The future wartime leader was the grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough and was born at the palace. He went on to become an expert rider and, aged 23, took part in the British army’s last ever cavalry charge, during the Battle of Omdurman in 1898,” said a palace spokesman.
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The exhibition includes Blenheim’s original tack room, open to the public for the first time. Visitors will have the chance to ride side-saddle and watch displays, and the exhibition will also highlight the royal hunting lodge and the Capability Brown-landscaped parkland, home to the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.
It also features a full-size recreation of one of the estate’s ancient oak trees, hung with bowler and top hats.
The stables exhibition is part of a £1.9m investment programme at the Oxfordshire estate.
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