Get out that ermine and those ducal coronets, because Gardenside, the former home of Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough, is for sale! Who? Consuelo, daughter of William Kissam Vanderbilt and the redoubtable Alva, was groomed from an early age to make an aristocratic match. Consuelo endured years of deportment lessons, including an iron rod to keep her back straight. When Consuelo objected to a dress her mother had chosen for her, she was told, "I do the thinking, you do as you are told." (We need to try that with our teenage daughter…)
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the landowning aristocrats of England were often short on cash because of an agricultural slump. They often married American industrial heiresses: the English got the American money and the Americans got English titles. Alva was determined that her daughter would become an English peeress, so Consuelo married Charles Spencer-Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, in 1895. (Yes, related to those Churchills. And the Spencers of Lady Diana Spencer.) Consuelo got a fabulous title and Charles got $2.5 million to restore Blenheim Palace (about $67 million in 2010 money).
But the marriage was unhappy, so the two were divorced in 1921. Consuelo married the French Jacques Balsan later that year, and the marriage was happy. She maintained houses in Paris, Palm Beach, and Southampton: this one. She died in Southampton in 1964.
So—back to the house! For your hefty $28M, you get a beautiful 9000sf house built in 1873 and renovated within the past few years. For our tastes, it looks as though the house has been slightly over-renovated, but that's a minor niggle. There are seven bedrooms and 11.5 baths, with pretty reception rooms, a gorgeous kitchen, and plenty of terraces outside. There are 1.84 acres of land in Southampton's estate section, with a clay tennis court and 45' pool. We adore the formal rose parterre.
· Garden Side: Historic Estate Section [Corcoran]