It is probable that Sarah Churchill (née Jennings) was born at Holywell Hill, St. Albans in 1660. From a relatively early age she developed a close friendship with Princess Anne. Prior to the princess ascending the throne and becoming Queen Anne of Great Britain, Sarah, against the wishes of her family who did not feel the match to be suitably remunerative, secretly married a military general named John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, to whom she would be with for over 40 years.
Anne came to the throne in 1702, Sarah Churchill and the Duke of Marlborough remained close to the new queen. The Duke spent much of his time out of the country commanding troops in the War of the Spanish Succession whilst Sarah remained in the queen’s court, keeping abreast of political developments.
Noted for her strong-mindedness she had a number of famous disagreements with senior public figures including Robert Walpole, King George II and, most notably, her childhood friend Queen Anne. The relationship between Sarah and Queen Anne did eventually become sour. In 1711 the Marlboroughs were dismissed from Queen Anne’s court. In 1713 the couple settled for a time in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, returning to England only after Anne’s death.
With the money she inherited following the death of her husband she became, at the time, one of the richest women in Europe. Churchill spent much of her remaining years on construction projects, including Woodstock Manor, later the site of Blenheim Palace. Churchill died at Marlborough House, London, at the age of 84. Find out more on the St Albans Arch and Arch website