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Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill
Classic English Interiors

It's just one hour from London and a few kilometres from Oxford where you find Blenheim Palace, one of the most splendid palaces in Great Britain and home to the 11th Duke of Marlborough. Most of the private chambers have been furnished by his daughter, Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill. "I am very proud of her", said the Duke during my private visit to his palace. "Her interest in interior design began at the age of 16 when she traveled to study fine art and languages in Florence and Paris." 

Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill is specialised in traditional, classic English Interior. Just a few miles away from Blenheim Palace, in the heart of the small town Woodstock, is the elegant home interiors establishment "Woodstock Designs", owned and run by Henrietta since 1981. The small shop is enchanting and contains all those charming little items with which the local and noble gentry love to decorate their country houses. Naturally, there are some interesting souvenirs of Blenheim Palace, which is where Lady Spencer-Churchill grew up. Even if she no longer lives there she is still very attached to her parental home.

One can really rummage about in "Woodstock Designs". I have found some typical English accessories for my own home here! The sales room is only a small part of Lady Henrietta's establishment. Her own creative work as an interior decorator is done behind the scenes or also on location in the houses of her international clientele. Her staff handles up to 20 jobs at a time around the world, and each takes from six months to two years to complete. Many customers however come to Woodstock, in order to select from the classic, elegant designs of her materials, most of which she has designed herself.

Noblesse oblige and so the daughter of the Duke of Marlborough was clever enough to forme a seperate company. "Spencer-Churchill Designs" designs and produces furnishing fabrics and wallpapers. One of the material collection reflects Henrietta's tie to her stately parental home: the Blenheim Garden Collection. The designs were taken from original floral water-colours painted by Susan Blanford, the 5th Duchess of Marlborough in the 18th century.

 "Do you live in a palace yourself ?" , I asked her while revealing in the colours and patterns of her collection... It is hard to believe - but the daughter of the 11th Duke of Marlborough, owner of the most important estate and priceless national heritage, lives very modestly. But the wife of a German Banker, Nathan Gelber, wants it that way. Together with her two sons David and Maximilian she lives in a tiny little house in a perfectly simple rural environment. Here she finds the time to relax and enjoy her cosy weekends in the country. And when Lady Henrietta has time, she writes. Her books, especially "Classic English Intriors" and "Classic Decorative Details" always have been a success.

"Woodstock Designs" operates from two outlets. the main shop and office being based in Woodstock and a subsidary showroom and office in Chelsea, London. Lady Henrietta is also a Director of H.R.W. Antiques P.L.C., a company which specialises in selling antiques to the Interior Design Market. Several years ago it has taken over the running of the antique department at Fortnum and Mason in London's West End.

If you are in Woodstock to visit Lady Henrietta's shop or to follow Churchill's trail through Blenheim Palace, I can only recommend to take up lodgings at "The Feathers", a romantic hotel with an enchanting country-style interior, a first-class service and an award-winning and internationally renowned cuisine. 

Woodstock Designs
7 High Street, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1TE
Tel: ++44-993-811887; Fax: ++44-993-813487

55 Hollywood Road, London SW10 9HX
Tel: ++44-207-3765420; Fax: ++44-207-3763541

(no web-site available)  



* This special feature "Lady Spencer-Churchill" has been one of more than 200 VIP-Portraits, produced by Nathalie Gütermann for her TV-Shows 'Nathalie's Lifestyle' and 'Nathalie's Art of Living' that were broadcasted between 1990 - 2003 in Germany and in 15 countries world-wide. The content has been updated with actual information in 2004 for © 1990 - 2004. The reproduction or other use of any text, photographs, etc. needs the prior written permission of the Chief Publisher.

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