Blenheim Palace

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Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace

The stately home of a famous Duke complete with Capability Brown landscapes, opulent decor and a massive statue at the top of the garden

As the magnificent Baroque stately home and parkland of Blenheim Palace go to show, it pays to keep your wits about you. This vast country pile was built as a gift to the First Duke of Marlborough to mark victory over the French in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The Duke, John Churchill (yes, relation), had led the victorious forces and proved again and again to be a loyal servant to the British Monarchy, so he was granted an old property and the park at Woodstock plus £240,000 to build himself a new home.

Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, the scale and grandeur of Blenheim Palace were fully intended as a testament to the power of the Duke’s family. In the grounds today you can still take the stroll to the 134-feet-high Column of Victory, with a statue of the First Duke depicted as a Roman general on the top of it. Last time we checked, not even Kanye had a back yard like this.

Over time, more work was carried out, including extensive work to the grounds by landscape architect Capability Brown, and other features, like a small summer house styled as the Temple of Diana (where Winston Churchill proposed to his Clementine in 1908).

Not surprisingly, there’s plenty to gawp at, and it’s been a popular visitor attraction since it first opened to the public in 1950. Take a choice of tours (included in Palace entry), including a glimpse at the Private Apartments and ‘Upstairs’ and ‘Downstairs’ tours to hear stories of the rich and famous, well worthy of a Julian Fellowes script. There is also a permanent exhibition to the life and work of Sir Winston, who was born here in 1874, son of Lord Randolph Churchill.

If the country setting rather than the fancy decor is more your thing, throughout the year there are also concerts and food festivals, antiques fairs and sporting events, car shows, dining experiences and live jazz every Sunday in the Water Terraces Café.

By: Laura Lee Davies


Venue name: Blenheim Palace
Address: Woodstock
OX20 1PP
Opening hours: Park open daily 9am–6pm or dusk, formal gardens daily 10am–5.30pm, palace daily 10.30am–5.30pm.
Transport: Rail: Oxford rail
Price: Palace, Park and Gardens (valid for 12 months): £24.90, £19.90 concs., £13.90 children, under-fives free, £59.90 family. Park and Gardens only: £14.90, £10.90 concs., £6.90 children, under-fives free, £39.90 family.
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