Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage Site since 1987 and a Treasure House of England, is the home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. It is in the English baroque style of architecture and was built between 1705-1722 by Vanbrugh for John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. It was to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.
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The monuments on the clock tower were carved by Grinling Gibbons. The main block of the house is 480 feet and has the hall, saloon, stairs, and state rooms. The side wings of the building contain private apartments and a picture gallery/library. Visitors see the gilded state rooms, hand-painted ceilings, chapel, porcelain collections, tapestries illustrating Marlborough’s campaigns, furniture, and paintings.
The long library measures 183 in length, one of the longest in an English private home. It houses 10,000 volumes and an organ. There is an exhibition on Sir Winston Churchill who was born in the house. It includes paintings, manuscripts, personal belongings, books, photos, and letters. Another exhibition details the history of Blenheim Palace.
The formal gardens won the HHA/Christie’s Garden of the Year Award in 2008. Henry Wise originally designed and worked on the gardens, but they were radically altered when landscaped by 'Capability Brown' between 1764-1774, by order of the 3rd Duke. The 9th Duke restored some of the original garden when he hired Achille Duchene, who created the water terrace in 1925. He planted half a million trees.
Garden features include an arboretum, a lake (created by damming the River Glyme), and a maze, deemed to be the world’s largest symbolic hedge maze. Visitors can rent a boat to further enjoy the lake, spanned by Vanbrugh’s bridge. Also in the grounds are a putting green, giant chess and draughts, a walled garden, butterfly house, herb garden, and adventure playground. The 18th century dairy is now a shopping centre.
On the A44 Evesham road
Tel. 08700 60 20 80
Open: mid Feb-end Oct, daily, palace from 10.30am-5.30pm, formal gardens from 10am-5.30pm; Nov-mid Dec, Wed-Sun, 10.30am-5.30pm, formal gardens from 10.30am-5.30pm. park, year round daily (except 25 Dec), 9am-4.45pm; for full details and changes go to website
Historic Houses Association member; shop; parking; restaurant; buffet; special events
Web: Blenheim Palace
Photos and text copyright by Barbara Ballard