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Blenheim Palace
A few miles north of Oxford this is  the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston  Churchill. It has fine collections set in gilded staterooms which overlook  beautiful scenery.

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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  Churchill’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, Vanbrugh’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 Tallard’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, Marlborough’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 Marlborough’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 world’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.


Opening  Times

(2002 times)

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.

Admission  Charges

(2002 prices)

Adult £10.00 Child  (5-15) £ 5.00 Senior Citizen/Child (16&17) £7.50
Group Prices:
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.

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