Blenheim Palace offers a wonderful day out for all the family. You will be inspired by the majesty of the Palace, with its carvings by Grinling Gibbons,
delighted by the interior filled with treasures and intrigued by the apartments
devoted to Sir Winston Churchill. There are gardens in a variety of styles;
lakes to row on, an adventure play area for children and even a narrow-gauge railway to take you from car park to the Palace.
Blenheim Palace was built for the National Hero John 1st Duke of Marlborough
and his Duchess Sarah, given by Queen Anne as a gift in reward for his military services. The palace was built between 1705 and 1722. The architect
chosen to complete this task was Sir John Vanbrugh and his clerk of works Hawksmoor, who had already proved their ability with the masterly designs
for Greenwich Hospital and Castle Howard. Set in glorious parkland, Blenheim
can be exciting to look at in all seasons and is the supreme example of English Baroque architecture.
The Great Hall is chiefly remarkable for its proportions 67 feet or 20 metres
high. The stone enrichments were carved by Grinling Gibbons and portray the arms of Queen Anne. The hall ceiling, painted in 1716 by Sir James Thornhill,
shows Marlborough victorious, with the battle order at Blenheim spread for view.
West of the Great Hall lies the birth room of Sir Winston Churchill, grandson of
the 8th Duke. You will enjoy the variety of interesting exhibits, from
Churchillâ€s lively letters to curls cut from his head when he was five years old.
The Green Drawing Room and the two rooms beyond it all have their original
ceilings, which were designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, Vanbrughâ€s collaborator. Many fine family portraits painted by Keller, Romney, Reynolds,
Sargent and Vandyck line the sumptuous damask covered walls. In the Green Writing Room hangs the most famous of all the tapestries, showing
Marlborough as he accepts Marshall Tallardâ€s surrender at the battle of Blenheim.
In the Saloon, used as the state dining room, the magnificent frescoes and
ceiling were painted by Louis Laguerre, who included a caricature of himself
above his signature, neighboured by Dean Jones, Marlboroughâ€s chaplain.
The table decorated with silver gilt, is laid with a Minton service, just part of the collection of rare porcelain on view throughout the Palace,
Three apartments known as the First, Second and Third State Rooms
intercommunicate between the Saloon and the Long Library. The walls of all three rooms are hung with tapestries of Marlboroughâ€s campaigns,
commissioned by himself of the designer de Hondt and the Brussels weaver,
Judocus de Vos. The realistic fidelity in every detail and the artistic beauty of
these tapestries commands admiration. Outstanding bronzes by Coysevox, Paul de Lamerie and Fuchs adorn the elegant furniture of the State Rooms.
In the Long Library the extraordinarily fine stucco decoration of the ceiling,
including the two false domes, is by Isaac Mansfield. Designed originally by
Vanbrugh as a picture gallery, this room now is home to the library, largely
collected by the 9th Duke. The Willis organ at the north end was installed by
the 8th Duke in 1891. Coronation robes, liveries, uniforms and the coronets of
the present Duke and Duchess are displayed in the central bay, together with a cap worn by Queen Anne.
Much of The Chapel was designed by Sarah the 1st Duchess to do honour and
justice to the Duke of Marlborough. The tomb was designed by William Kent and the memorial is to the first Duke and Duchess and their two sons.
The Park and Gardens at Blenheim provide a majestic formal setting for the
Palace. The original plans by Vanbrugh and the 1st Duke were altered by
Capability Brown, and later by the French landscape-architect Achille Duchene
and succeeding generations of the family have taken a keen interest in their
evolvement. Today you can admire the formality of the Italian Garden and the Water Terraces, take a relaxing stroll through The Arboretum where Mr.
Winston Churchill proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier, who was to become
Baroness Churchill. Rare trees and shrubs abound and in spring the garden is
particularly attractive, when the blossom is out and the grassy banks are
covered in daffodils and bluebells. In summer the rose garden is a delight arched with hoops of delicate pink roses. The Grand Cascade, designed by
Capability Brown may not be the highest falls in England, but few can be
more picturesque. Fun for all ages is to be found on the putting greens, as well as with the giant chess and draughts.
Enjoy a visit to The Butterfly House where you can see exotic butterflies in
free flight. The Marlborough maze is the worldâ€s largest symbolic hedge maze, designed to reflect the history and architecture of the palace.
Covering just over an acre, there are two high bridges, which provide perfect
vantage points. To make your day complete enjoy a relaxing visit to one of the restaurants or cafeterias and browse in the garden shop.
The Palace is
open daily, 10.30-17.30 (last admission 16.45) from 11th March to the end of October.
The Park is open daily, 09.00-17.00 throughout the year.
The pleasure Gardens, Marlborough Maze and Butterfly House open
daily 10.00-18.00 mid March-end October.
Adult £10.00 Child (5-15) Â£ 5.00 Senior Citizen/Child (16&17) £7.50
Adult £7.70 Child (5- 15) £4.20; Senior Citizen/Child (16&17) £6.70
Given automatically to
all coach parties, available to other bona fide groups by prior arrangement only.
Educational visits welcome.
By road 8 miles north of Oxford on the A44 ( leave motorway M40 juc. 9)
Rail: Frequent services from Paddington to Oxford
Coach: Frequent services from London Victoria to Oxford.
Bus: No.20 from Oxford bus station every 30 minutes.