* Prices may differ from that shown
I went to Blenheim palace just last week for a birthday trip! We didn't go into the house, instead just went round the gardens and to the butterfly house- which cost £11 for adults or £8 (students/concessions). If you want to visit the house +gardens it's £19/adult which is pretty pricey I think! Especially as Hampton Court Palace gardens are free!
In the Gardens there are 2,000 acres to explore, beautiful lakes/ponds/fountains/gift shop and of course the butterfly house with hundreds of different species of butterflys to look at and some will land on you. It's pretty warm in the greenhouse as you can imagine, so sometimes a little uncomfortable in the shot summer months.
When arriving at Blenheim palace you are greeted by impressive gates and a long drive and at the bottom of the drive you see the palace
I can't comment in the rooms of the house as never had any interest in visiting them, we much rather enjoy taking a picnic and enjoying it on the lawn, of having some tea and cake in the cafe. The cafe isn't too badly priced, roughly £2 a slice of cake.
There is a little train that can take you from the gardens to the palace and back again which is quite fun to ride on! The Train leaves/stops right by the carpark, so not far to walk.
I loved spending my birthday at Blenheim palace, it was a really enjoyable day out!
Blenheim Palace is one of the largest houses in England and is the seat of the Duke of Marlborough. It is built in the Oxfordshire countryside near the village of Woodstock approximately eight miles from Oxford. It covers an area of over 2100 acres, seven of which are devoted entirely to the house. It is absolutely massive in comparison to other stately homes in the United Kingdom and there is quite a history behind the building and maintenance of the house. The palace has been listed on the world heritage site. It really is a national treasure and well worth a visit.
The house was funded by the public purse and by money given to the 1st Duke in recognition of a variety of battles he fought and won. He was at the time a national hero and such was the esteem in which he was held not only Parliament but the King and his wife were instrumental in donating large sums of money. However the Duchess was quite a formidable woman who made various demands on the design of the house and in fact hated the architect so much that she had him sacked. She also fell out with Queen Anne after which funding for the palace was withdrawn. The falling out of favour also meant that the Duke and Duchess fled abroad and lived in exile for two years until the Queens death after which they returned to the palace and finished the building of the palace out of their own funds.
Over the centuries it has been a monumental task in maintaining the grand and opulent Palace so much so that in the 1800's it was on the verge of ruin as it was nearly impossible to maintain as the 7th Duke of Marlborough was practically bankrupt. An act of parliament had to be passed in order for the Duke to sell of parts of the estate and also he sold off many pieces of fine art and the Marlborough gems. In 1892 the 9th Duke married into "money" by marrying an American heiress from the Vanderbilt dynasty which saved the future of Blenheim. Once married and with a new influx of money the Marlborough gems were bought back to Marlborough and a massive shopping spree throughout the length and breadth of Europe ensued refilling the palace with antiques and fine art. From this marriage a rather famous person was born they were the parents of Sir Winston Churchill ironically who became another war hero.
The house is built in a mixture of Baroque architecture and Palladian style. It certainly looks more impressive from a distance than it does up close due to its vastness. There is a massive courtyard in front of the palace and the main entrance takes you into the grand hall. The grand hall is absolutely vast and you feel dwarfed by the size of it and the height of the ceilings. There is a painted ceiling and lots of windows at the top to let in sunlight. It is very grand and ostentatious. Towards the rear of the grand hall leading off in either direction are the state apartments. These rooms are also vast in size and grandeur each one leading further away from the grand hall and getting smaller in dimensions but nevertheless still very ostentatious. The further away from the grand hall you go the more cosy the rooms become although I suspect that the size of these rooms would be quite intimidating to visitors on official business. There is also a beautiful library which is quite long and practically runs the whole way down the west wing of the house. It was originally built to display pieces of fine art works and within the room there is a fine Willis organ.
The various state apartments are named in order as the first state apartment, the second state apartment and such as the Red drawing room, the Green Drawing room etc etc but the state dining room is stunning and the table is set with fine china and crystal set in a rich red decorated room which enhances the feeling of grandeur and opulence. Many of the ceilings have murals and frescos in them and the collection of fine art and tapestries are amazing.
There is a suite of rooms where Sir Winston Churchill was born which houses various displays and permanent exhibition depicting his life. There are letters he wrote to his father one in particular was requesting money as he had lost his watch given to him by his father. It was not to replace the watch but rather to pay for workmen to re route a river where he had lost his watch in order to retrieve it. The letters seem very formal in style but it gave an interesting insight into the type of relationship he had with his parents. Distant and quite formal and business like after all he was addressing a Duke who just happened to be his father! Quite bizarre.
There are far too many things to describe and I would not like to spoil your visit by describing too much. All I can say is that it is well worth a visit to Blenheim Palace but a warning the scale of the place is huge and you can be guaranteed to be quite exhausted visiting the beautiful palace and grounds as there is so much to see.
With over two thousand acres of landscaped grounds, parkland and gardens originally designed by Capability Brown, it gives you no idea how vast the estate is suffice it to say that there will be a lot of walking involved. To the rear of the house overlooked by the state apartments is a beautifully set out parterre which is adorned with ponds topiary and fountains. There are terraces, the rose garden which then leads down to the secret garden and cascades. There is a large lawned area and an area which is used to hold various displays and other activities throughout the year such as jousting and hawking tournaments.
There are a couple of routes you can take of various walks through the landscaped gardens one of which pass the perimeter of the manmade lake passing beautiful trees such as copper, cedar, beech trees and willow trees. The walks are lovely and are a treat for the eyes. There is also the Marlborough maze which is great for adults and kids alike.
Times of opening are generally from 10:30 AM to 18:00 hours but you should check for times of opening as sometimes the palace is closed to the public.
Students and OAP's £14.50
Family ticket £48
IF you only wish to visit the grounds and gardens the tickets are as follows:
Adult £ 10.30
Students & OAP's £7.70
Family ticket £26.
There are good parking and toilet facilities and plenty of places to eat at various venues. You can also bring your own picnic or arrange for a picnic from the palace. They hold various corporate events there too and other special events which are held throughout the year. You can have afternoon tea which for £15 a head is quite good value and is held in the Indian room overlooking the fountains and water terraces or how about Sunday lunch for £19.95 at the orangery where you can have a nice meal in beautiful surroundings.
The palace does welcome disabled visitors but you would need to be aware if you are wheelchair bound then you are likely not to get to visit some places.
Would I recommend a visit here?
Absolutely but I would reckon on spending at least about five to six hours as there is so much to see and do and does warrant a whole day to visit and explore. I don't think you would be disappointed in any way as there is so much available to satisfy any age group. In fact I think you could devote a whole day here enjoying the Palace,grounds and exhibitions and I am sure you would enjoy it immensely.
You can check out details at the following web site which is full of useful information of how to get there, prices, times of opening and facilities and events etc.
Blenheim Palace is as I hope most people are aware the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill arguably this country's greatest leader.
Blenheim Palace is situated in Woodstock which is just outside Oxford full details and directions can be found on their website www.Blenheimpalace.com . I therefore do not feel the need to put directions into my review.
I first visited Blenheim Palace many years ago as a Child and to this day it is still a favoured day out and you really do need a whole day.
...............Gardens and Grounds ..............
Blenheim Palaces grounds are amazing there is no other word to describe what a feast for the eyes is Blenheim has 2100 acres of Parkland which were landscaped by Capability Brown. MyFavourite area is the magnificent lake a fabulous spot for a Picnic. There are also the Formal Gardens which were re-designed in the 1920's with Water Terrace, Rose Gardens, Arboretum, Cascades and Secret Garden. I would really state that for a Green Fingered fiend this would be Paradise but equally for those of us that are not it is breathtaking.
As you approach along the Driveway suddenly the palace looms up ahead and to my mind it knocks spots of Buckingham palace it is truly awe inspiring built in the 1700's in English Baroque Style. The interior of the palace is beautifully finished with intricate carving and panelling's I love the opulence of the interior and ever since I was a little Girl I have loved imaging myself as a resident!
The palace also contains the Untold Story which is a fascinating insight into the real residents of Blenheim and is excellently told giving you a magnificent and detailed history of the palace.
I mentioned that Blenheim has been a place that I have been visiting since I was a child and apart from the acres of space to run around and play any game your imagination can think of there are also The Pleasure Gardens with the maze and Giant games to play, Plus naturally a adventure play area but my Daughters favourite was the Butterfly house where she could hold a Butterfly but as she reminding everyone for weeks after you mustn't touch their wings!
There is also a forest trail a great place to become Robin Hood! The Minatare train is also available and a excellent way of getting around particularly when Robin Hood is beginning to need a nap!
.............Food & Drink..............
I personally favour a picnic as there so many beautiful spots within the Parkland and no matter how busy you can always find a great place to lunch which is secluded adding to the pretence that its all yours!
However I have tried the Water Terrace Cafe and the homemade soup was delicious and reasonably priced (They also were happy to split it into two bowls for the children) we also had delicious homemade cakes again I felt it was reasonably priced.
There is also a cafe by the Pleasure Gardens serving the usual Panini', Sandwiches and Jacket Potatoes etc again I thought for a trapped audience the prices were reasonable. I would always recommend a Picnic if it's dry. For full detials on the eating options please see the website.
............Opening Times & price............#
I am sorry to say that the Palace and Formal Gardens are not open until the 13th February, however the Park is open and would cost you £4 to explore this.
Price for the Park, formal gardens and palace is..
Price for Park and Gardens
This may sound expensive but you can change your day ticket into a 12 month ticket for free so it's a steal so no need to make off with the silver! I also guarantee that once visited you will be back for more.
As mentioned the Palace opens on the 13th February and is then open until the 12th December but do check on their website as Blenheim hosts special events and prices and opening times can be affected www.blenheimpalace.com
Well I am sure that from reading this review you have figured out that I love Blenheim Palace and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to visit this whenever I want.
I would also be dumbstruck if you didn't find this as awe inspiring as I do and I would also recommend visiting Woodstock itself if you have the time.
Having Historic House passes and being close by on holiday a visit to Blenheim was a must. It is worth noting, you absolutely need a whole dy at Blenheim to make the most of it, there is so much to see and do.
If you don't have passes to get in then entry is quite pricey £17.50 per adult! Parking is onsite and included within you ticket price. There is plenty so no battle for spaces.
The official guide book cost £5 and was well worth the money. Some lovely photos and a lot of information included. These can be obtained at many sites, there are a few kiosks selling them and can be purchased and one of the many gift shops.
When we arrived just before noon there were many cars and I was anxious that it would be crammed, however when you appreciate the sheer scale of the place everyone was spread around and it really wasn't as busy as I was expecting.
You walk up the path and go through the main arch. The palace is simply stunning from the outside, set in phenomonal grounds. It is simply breathtaking.
You enter the palace and can choose one of two routes. At first we went through the state rooms, this was beautiful, lots to look at. There is a Churchill exhbition which was really intresting. They had lots of letters he had written, information on his personal life, it was a really interesting look at such a famous inhabitant of Blenheim.
The paintings in the palace are abundant and each one exquisite. There is a huge variety of subjects, different peoople (most pictures are portraits). There is a stunning picture of Queen Anne and Sarah 1st Duchess of Marlborough (they were my favouites).
The second route takes you upstairs to an interactive exhibition 'The untold story'. This takes a little getting into the sprit for but is actually very interesting. You progress room by room through the exhibitions and we were fortunate to be the only people going on our tour so we didn't have to jostle to read the boards. This is worth looking at but if you are short on time then give it a miss. We were lucky enough to have over 6 hours at the palace but this exhibition takes about 40mins and would be what I would recommend missing out on if you don't have much time.
The cafe had a good ange of hot and cold food. We went twice, once early on for tea and cake (to recover from the drive) this was reasonably priced. Tea £1.50 and cake about £2. It was very tastyy and they had an excellent selection. You can pay by card but there is an ATM on site as well.
In our second visit to the tearoom we had some homemade mushroom soup which was delicious...and more tea. The staff were very friendly and willing to give us more milk and hot water to extend the amount of tea we had. There was plenty of seating and it was all clean and tidy.
The toilets - there were quite a few dotted around and again we visited all 3 (too much tea!) and they were all clean and tidy and well stocked with toilet paper.
The gardens are what I would recommend most about a visit to Blenheim. You still get to see the amazing exterior of the property.
There are some formal water gardens by the cafe which have fountains and really are amazing, There are rolling lawns, lots and lots of beautiful old trees. We walked to the rose garden which took about 5-10mins from the palace. Although almost out of rose season the rose garden was beautiful, the scents were heavenly. We spent a long time wandering in the garden and smelling the roses.
We then walked to the cascades but this was shut off for some works which was disappointing as they are supposed to be amazing. Will visit next time we go (will definately be returning).
We went to the butterfly farm later on in the day, I don't know if it was a little cold but there weren't many butterflys flying around. It was quite small but there were a few beautiful species. This exhibit is included with your ticket cost so you dont have to pay any more to get in.
The pleasure gardens and butterfly park are about 10-15minute walk away from the palace. There is a little train which shuttles between the two all day. The last train to the gardens is 5.10pm and last one back to palace/parking area was 5.30pm. This was really good as by the end of the day we were quite tired so were grateful of the shuttle back to the carpark.
Despite being there for so long and not being dawdlers we ddn't get to see a lot. There is a lovely looking walk around the lakne that I would like to have done, and we didn't see the secret garden, the italian garden, much of the pleasure gardens, the cascades and a few others. We didn' arrive until just before noon so probably would have seen them if we had the entire day but that would have been tiring.
We had an absolutely brilliant day out and would recommend it to anyone. Although the entry is a little pricey you get a lot for your money and there aren't many hidden extras (others than food and refreshments and gifts) that you have to buy.
I've wanted to go to Blenheim Palace for a long time. I had dropped the hints to Mr Tart and last weekend he said we were going on a mystery tour. After all the hints I wasn't too surprised to end up in Blenheim (especially as we were staying with family nearby) but it goes to show that hints can work!! It was still a lovely thought on his part and we ended up having a great time.
The land which Blenheim is situated on was originally a royal hunting lodge called Woodstock. John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, was given the land by Queen Anne as a reward for his defeat of the forces of Louis XIV of France at......wait for it.....Blenheim! Although John died before the house was completed it was finished as a legacy to him by his wife Sarah and the subsequent Dukes of Marlborough have lived there ever since. The house is probably most famous as the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
Blenheim is located near Oxford, in Woodstock. The Palace is signposted from most of the major routes around the area and is around a 20 minute drive from Oxford itself. You can also get the train to Oxford and then a bus from there to the palace.
Blenheim is not the place to go for a cheap day out. An adult ticket for the house and grounds costs £17.50. Mr Tart and I used our Historic House Association memberships (a little known organisation which it is well worth joining if you like stately homes not in the National Trust). Although the prices are very high you can spend the whole day at Blenheim with the gardens.
After parking (which is on site) we made our way to the entrance. We already had our tickets from the car park attendant. You cannot fail to be immediately impressed by the sheer scale and magnificence of Blenheim. The architecture is hugely impressive.
We decided to see the house first and then spend the rest of the day in the gardens as it was such lovely weather. As you go into the house you have a choice of two directions. You can either see the Churchill exhibition and the state apartments or you can see the exhibition on the house's History. We did the state rooms first.
We headed through the Churchill exhibition. This contains various memorabilia about Churchill's connections with Blenheim as well as his life in general. There are lots of photographs, letters and artefacts. The exhibition was really fascinating and great for anyone with an interest in Churchill or World War Two. I really liked that they had some of Churchill's speeches playing as you went round the exhibition. The only problem was that it was housed in some tiny rooms and it made it very difficult to see everything because you were constantly having to get round other people in a very restrictive space. The exhibition culminated in the room where Churchill was born.
You then move through to the state rooms themselves. They were absolutely magnificent. The walls were all highly decorated and there were tapestries and paintings everywhere. The furniture was really opulent and ornate as well. There is the choice of having a guided tour although I rarely do these as I have been known to correct guides in the past and I like wandering through at my own pace. The tours seemed to go quite often and on our way around there were two that we had to squeeze past. Although the state rooms were completely amazing they did lack really good information boards. They did have them but they weren't really big or colourful enough. I would have also like a portrait list as they have in other houses like this, so that you can tell who you are looking at when you're not doing the guided tour. I also felt that the state rooms finished a little too quickly. For the size of the house we didn't get to see a huge amount of rooms.
Once you've been round the state rooms you exit through the chapel. This is on the side of the house and was surprisingly small to me. It does contain an amazing monument to John Churchill, the first Duke, which is well worth a look.
Once we'd finished this we headed back to the main entrance to do the exhibition on the building and history of the house. We went to the bottom of the stairs where we had to wait until they were ready to start again....intriguing I thought, isn't this supposed to be an exhibition. Then they told us that it was interactive and you were led round by a ghost! OK, interesting.....!
We went upstairs where we listened to a painting of the house being built (from about 2 years ago!) talk to us about the building of the house. You then follow the exhibition through various rooms, with the doors opening automatically. The exhibition is a mix of moving waxwork characters, sound effects, talking pictures, artefacts and information boards. You start with the building of the house and move through the History of the house with Sarah Churchill's ladies maid as your guide. The experience is really good, although a little tedious at times. It does provide a much more interesting way of looking at History and I think it would be great for kids. I especially liked the scene which was supposed to be in Hampton Court with Barbara Villiers in bed (a working waxwork protecting her modesty with the bedcovers!) with John Churchill hiding in the wardrobe and King Charles II trying to get in through the door (Barbara was mistress to both men).
Once we had finished this we headed for the cafe. For places like this I normally pack a picnic but we were staying with Mr Tart's family and they are re-doing their kitchen so we thought we might as well splash out on lunch out instead. There was a fairly good selection in the cafe. There were sandwiches and salads as well as hot meals. We went for chicken pie. This cost £8.50 which was fairly pricey but it came with potatoes and vegetables as well. The food was over-priced but that is to be expected in places like this and it was really good quality and tasty food so we didn't mind too much. One thing that was really good was that they had jugs of tap water and glasses at the till so you didn't have to pay for a drink as well if you were happy with water (although there were plenty of drinks available).
After finishing lunch we headed for the grounds. The grounds of Blenheim are very extensive and we didn't get round all of them. We did see the rose garden which was beautiful and we walked to the Cascades but this was closed off as they're doing works there. Once we'd walked around the grounds we headed for the train. There is a mini railway which takes you to the maze area. This area has a cafe, some outdoor games, like giant chess and a putting green, as well as the maze. The maze is the second largest hedge maze in the world and it pretty old as well. It is laid out as a memorial to the Blenheim victory. It is supposed to take about 25 minutes although we cheated a little and used the bridges that you go over to work out our route!
Once finished we headed back to the house for a well deserved ice cream (!) which took about 15 minutes, as we had just missed a train. The ice creams weren't cheap at £3 for a double scoop but they were delicious. I would recommend heading to see Churchill's grave once you've finished, as it is only a 5 minute drive away and signposted from the Blenheim exit.
I really loved Blenheim. We had an amazing day. The house and gardens are completely beautiful and well worth seeing. I do think that the entrance price is over the top but it is worth it if you spend the whole day as we did. The house has interesting exhibitions for people interested in older History but is also great for anyone interested in modern History, with the Churchill connection. Highly recommended.
Blenheim Palace, Formal Gardens and Park
~~~~~A very brief snippet into its history~~~~~
In the early eighteenth century, Europe was engaged in bitter fighting as the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) raged. In 1704, the French King, Louis XIV, sought to knock the Holy Roman Empire out of this conflict by capturing its capital, Vienna. The Grand Alliance (England, Habsburg Empire, Dutch Republic, Portugal, Spain, & the Duchy of Savoy) was determined to retain the Empire and thus, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill (1650-1722) made plans to intercept Louis before his forces and allies could reach Vienna.
In one of the most significant battles in European history, the Battle of Blenheim (1704) was a decisive victory for the Grand Alliance. In gratitude, Queen Anne gave John Churchill the manor of Woodstock and, until 1712 - after the Marlboroughs had lost the royal favour - the Crown paid for the palatial home.
The foundation stone was laid in June 1705, and the palace was designed and built by Sir John Vanbrugh, who later resigned after one too many arguments with the Duchess, Sarah. Nicholas Hawksmoor is also known to have designed and overseen various areas of the construction, particularly after Vanbrugh left.
Over the years, numerous changes occurred, particularly in the gardens. 'Capability' Brown was brought in to landscape the palace park and gardens by the 4th Duke of Marlborough.
In more recent times, Blenheim was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, who arrived on the 30th November 1874, a few weeks early. It was never intended that he would be born at the palace!
~~~~~What to see and do~~~~
Blenheim Palace, park and gardens is a truly impressive holding and there is plenty to see and do. A whole day is insufficient to really take advantage of everything.
1. The State rooms
You are able to walk freely around this area or with a guided tour, and it is through these State rooms that you really get a sense of time and place. The palace holds numerous collections of portraits, tapestries, Meissen and Sevres porcelain, and even Boulle furniture. You will also be able to view the ceilings of Nicholas Hawksmoor and the stone work of Grinling Gibbons. There is also a copy of the famous Marlborough dispatch, which he sent from the battlefield of Blenheim to his Duchess to inform of the victory, on display.
2. The Churchill Exhibition
As his birthplace, there is a Churchill Exhibition dedicated to the statesman, which includes access to the room where he was born. Although it was never his home, Churchill was apparently always fond of Blenheim and for five years in the 1890s Churchill was heir presumptive to the dukedom.
In the Churchill Exhibition, there is Sir Winston's painting of the Great Hall at Blenheim and several of his letters and photographs.
3. 'Blenheim Palace: the Untold Story' 300 years of enticing tales.
An interactive experience and one definitely worth doing; I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is in the upstairs of the Palace (and unfortunately has not wheelchair access). It is hard to describe what it is as it is the life of the palace and some of its inhabitants through the eyes of one of its main servants, now a 'ghost'. (It employs modern digital technology to create this.) The experience is self guided and takes about 35 minutes.
4. Miniature train ride
Near to the main pedestrian and vehicle entrance is the miniature train ride, which takes visitors to the Pleasure Gardens. These Gardens include the Marlborough Maze and Butterfly House. I was unable to do this as time ran out, but it's on my 'to do' list for next time.
5. The Grand Bridge and the Column of Victory
Near to the main front of the palace is the beginning of the Great Avenue, along which the Grand Bridge leads up to the Column of Victory. It is certainly worth taking a saunter up this Avenue, but do bear in mind that it is some distance!
And so much more!
~~~~~Shop and facilities~~~~~
For those of you who like to take away a souvenir, there are a few sources on site. One of the smaller gift shops is in the actual palace and contains the more 'delicate' items of porcelain and fragrances, for instance. There is also a bookshop near to the Chapel, but the main gift shop, the Flagstaff Gift Shop, holds the largest number of gifts. In addition, there is a small Ice Cream Parlour with a small courtyard for seating, as well as online shop facilities at http://shop.blenheimpalace.com. The ice cream is delicious by the way!
What I found pleasantly surprising was the cost of items. Okay, so they we not on the cheap, cheap side. However, I was expecting extortionate. This wasn't the case. I think everyone could find something for themselves at a reasonable price.
Like with all properties of certain ages, they were not designed to cater for wheelchair access. However, the Palace has endeavoured to improve access as far as possible. They do recommend advance booking for large groups with disabled members or people with special needs. I think this is so that they can ensure that necessary changes to routes etc. can be made at the Palace. I recommend looking at the website for more information.
Entrance fees are not cheap, but you can buy tickets based on what you plan to see.
Palace, park and gardens:
Family (1adult and 3 children) £46.00
Family (2 adults and 2 children) £46.00
Park and gardens:
Family (1adult and 3 children) £25.00
Family (2 adults and 2 children) £25.00
The Palace is running a special offer whereby you buy one day's tickets and you'll be able to convert it into an Annual Pass (you get twelve months' free!).
~~~~~Where is it? ~~~~~
Blenheim Palace is in Oxfordshire, just northwest of Oxford, near the historic town of Woodstock. It is easily accessible by road (the A44 Evesham Road) and is serviced regularly by buses and coaches. From Oxford Rail Station, you would need to look for the S3 service (run by stagecoach). The bus stop is just outside the gates on Hensington Road.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Blenheim and think it is a place that can capture the imagination of anybody. Worth a visit and I certainly know that I shall be going back some time.
(The Blenheim Palace website was used to confirm details.)
This was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.