Blenheim Palace is one of the Europe's largest and most magnificent palaces. It was built between 1705 and 1722 as a reward of the British government to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, for defeating King Louis XIV's army at Blenheim, a small Bavarian village on the Danube River.
The palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in an imposing Baroque-style that had to display strength and military glory. It is the largest non-royal domestic building in England and is now listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
In 1874, the palace was the birthplace of the duke's most famous descendant, Winston Churchill, who was to become the UK's wartime and postwar Prime Minister (some would say Britain's greatest 20th-century politician and orator) and Nobel prize winner for literature. It is also in Blenheim that Winston got married to Clementine Hozier in 1908.
A permanent exhibition is devoted to the man's life, work and writings. Winston and his wife are buried in Bladon Church within the palace precincts.
The Great Hall
's walls and ceiling, painted by Sir James Thornhill, depicts classical scenes between colonnades.
The China Cabinet has a remarkable collection of Sèvres and Meissen porcelain.
The Long Library, as its name indicates, stretches on 55 metres. It contains some 10,000 books and able to accommodate 320 guests for dinner.
The palace's estate spreads over 5,000 hectares, 2,000 of which are within the historic park.
Opening Hours & Admission
Blenheim is still the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and is therefore not open all year round (although the park is).The palace opens its doors to visitors from 12 February to 11 December. Entry to the palace, park and gardens cost £11.50 during the low season and £13 during the peak season (Easter weekend and from 28 May to 11 September), or £6/£8 for the park and gardens only.
The park is open all-year round from 9am to 4:45pm (last entry). Admission is £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children.
Note that numerous discounts exist for seniors, students, children and groups. Please refer to the official website for more details.
How to get there
Blenheim Palace is located just south-west of Woodstock, a dozen kilometres north-west of Oxford. From Oxford, catch bus No 20/A (does not run on Sundays).