It’s the first weekend of August, which can really only mean one thing: it’s time, once again, for The Gentleman’s Journal Long Summer Lunch at Blenheim Palace — surely rapidly becoming one of the bastions of the social season. (We may be a little biased. We may also have had a little wine.)
And talking of bastions — has anyone wandered into the Palace’s Italian Gardens lately? Their golden stone towers glow and shimmer; their coves and porticos seem airlifted from some distant daydream. All in all, the perfect backdrop, perhaps, for this highly cheerful event — held in collaboration with Bicester Village, Land Rover, Nyetimber and Mirabeau.
More than 150 friends of the magazine gathered for the first day of the Wilderness Weekend in the glorious sunshine of the ancient Palace, cheered by a morning’s style hunting at nearby Bicester Village.
They’d been met on the platform of Marylebone Station in London by trainspotter extraordinaire Francis Bourgeois, who checked tickets and took to the tannoy to hurry guests along on their way to the rolling hills of Oxfordshire.
At Blenheim itself, singular grand table ran down the length of the private gardens, flanked on one side by tinkling fountains and manicured topiary and on the other by the cool majesty of the famous orangery. Around it, guests — such as Laura Whitmore, Jack Guinness, Francis Bourgeois, Amy Jackson, Ed Westwick, Eric Underwood, Cyrill Ibrahim, Che Lingo, Lily Travers and many more — enjoyed a quintessentially British feast of Blenheim Lamb, marinated chicken with chorizo, and skewers of salmon, all washed down by Nyetimber’s glorious sparkling wines and Mirabeau by the magnum.
Then it was a simple(ish) case of ferrying the merry bunch over to Wilderness Festival in a motorcade of all new Range Rovers, where they danced the night away at the Nyetimber Party and beyond. What fun!