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With the UK release of The Favourite upon us, we thought we'd take a closer look at one of St Albans' most famous faces who also happens to be a leading character in this new historical comedy-drama: Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough.

The film itself focuses on the behind-the-scenes politics between two cousins, Sarah Churchill and Abigail Hill, jockeying for favour with Queen Anne.

But who was Sarah Churchill? And how was she linked to St Albans? Here are a few quick facts about her: 

  1. Sarah Churchill was born Sarah Jennings in St Albans in 1660 - most probably at Holywell House in St Albans.
  2. She went to Court aged 13, where she met John Churchill.
  3. She became a close confidante of Princess Anne, who later became Queen. This made her one of the most powerful women in England.
  4. Sarah’s husband’s success in battles led to the titles of Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the building of Blenheim Palace.
  5. Sarah was a great business woman and became extremely wealthy.
  6. She wielded great political influence at Court and in St Albans, where she maintained her favourite home, Holywell House.
  7. She also built the Marlborough Almshouses on Hatfield Road.

Marlborough Almshouses

Marlborough Almshouses built by Sarah Churchill

Find out more about Sarah Churchill and John Churchill at St Albans Museum + Gallery.

The letters of Sarah Churchill are housed in the Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies in Hertford.