Blenheim Palace, one of the largest and most accomplished aristocratic country residences in England, offers a glimpse into English history, the monarchy and the peerage. The Palace is still a private home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and his family, but mostly it’s known as a birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.
The Palace is located only a 20-minute drive from Oxford in an awe-inspiring destination where visitors can admire its 18th century baroque architecture and beautiful landscapes which spread over 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown parkland and Formal Gardens. Blenheim, the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace, was built between 1705 to 1722.
The Palace was a gift of gratitude from Queen Anne to John Churchill, the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. Churchill owed his good fortune to his wife Sarah, who was the queen’s confident and best friend. To honour the Duke’s heroic victories, Queen Anne granted his family the ruined Royal Manor and park at Woodstock, along with £240,000 with which to build a house to mark the occasion.
Blenheim, named after the Battle of Blenheim, was designed by architect Sir John Vanbrugh and its build took a total of 17 years. The task of overseeing the building of Blenheim Palace was undertaken not by John Churchill, but by his wife Sarah Churchill, the 1st Duchess of Marlborough.
After first Duke died in 1722, his wife Sarah dedicated the rest of her life to completing Blenheim Palace. One of her many achievements was canalising the River Glyme and erecting a triumphal bridge.
Want to see more? Visit the full gallery and get to know Blenheim Palace better.
It’s not a surprise Blenheim Palace is today one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. The Palace’s lavish interior, decorated portraits and the most beautiful furniture can be viewed during the guided tours.
You can easily spend here an entire day exploring the hedge maze, Butterfly House, Lavender Garden, Grand Cascades and of course the beautiful grounds designed by Capability Brown. During your visit keep an eye on a huge variety of wildlife which lives on the Palace’s grounds including geese, swans, herons, kingfishers, pheasants, sheep, hare, and rabbits.
The Palace also hosts many events during the year including concerts, food and anique festivals, BBC Countryfile Live, Flower Show and Jousting Tournament.
In 1987 Blenheim Palace was awarded a UNESCO World Heritage status.
The Palace is home to 2,000 acres of serene parkland and the spectacular Formal Gardens. Originally designed by Henry Wise, the grounds were re-designed by by “England’s greatest gardener” Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in 1764.
The 1920’s French landscape architect Achill Ducêne conducted final redesign by adding the Water Terraces.
The Long Library was originally designed as a picture gallery but is now home to a collection of 10,000 books, largely compiled by the 9th Duke.
The Library designed by Christopher Wren, is the second longest room in any house in England, measuring 183ft (56m) long and 32ft (10m) high. Take a virtual tour around the library.
The Italian Garden used to be the Duke of Marlborough’s private garden, but luckily this peaceful space has been opened to members of the public to enjoy. Look out for the precise sculptured hedges – each one trimmed using spirit-levels, string and many hours of dedication!
Don’t miss the Rose Garden contained within a circular walk and surrounded by symmetrical beds of countless roses.
1. The Palace only opened its doors to the public in 1950, so has only been a public visitor site for 67 years.
2. In 1914 Blenheim Palace was used as a convalescence hospital for wounded soldiers during WWI.
3. The Marlborough maze consists of 3000 individual Yew hedges planted in 1987 and 1.8 acres and is the world’s second largest symbolic hedge maze.
4. Sir Winston Churchill was born at the palace on 30 November 1874. He also proposed to his wife, Clementine Hozier, in the Temple of Diana summerhouse in the palace gardens on 11 August 1908.
5. The Column of Victory, crowned by the 1st Duke of Marlborough, is 134 feet tall and took 3 years to build (1727 – 1730).
6. Champagne was Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite drink and it’s easy to agree with him saying “In success you deserve it and in defeat, you need it”.
7. The inner roof, located at the entrance of the Palace, features paintings of the eyes of the 9th Dukes’ wife.
8. Many exciting films and TV dramas were filmed at Blenheim Palace, including Spectre, The legend of Tarzan, The Avengers, Black Beauty, Harry Potter, The Order of the Pheonix, Cinderella and most recently The BFG movie.
9. The Queen still owns the land which Blenheim is built on and she still gets paid rent.
10. Christian Dior unveiled his couture show in 1954 at Blenheim Palace. The show was held in aid of the Red Cross, over 600 guests paid five guineas each to watch the showcase of over 100 pieces from the winter collection. In 1958, a young Yves Saint Laurent had taken over Dior’s label from Christian Dior’s untimely death, while staging another remarkable catwalk show at Blenheim Palace.
More than half a century later, Dior was welcomed for the third time to Blenheim Palace to showcase its 2017 Cruise collection. Guests were transported to the Oxfordshire palace on a specially chartered Orient Express.
From closer parking to the Palace to assistance in moving across the site and tailored tours, the Palace cater for those with accessibility needs.
Guide assistance and support dogs are welcome at Blenheim Palace.