Blenheim Palace is England’s largest stately home, situated in the beautiful Cotswolds area in the English county of Oxfordshire.
It is in the small village of Woodstock, eight miles from the famous university town of Oxford. Royal residences and manor houses have stood here for over a thousand years, but none so grand as Blenheim Castle. In 1987 the Palace was created a World Heritage site.
History of Blenheim Palace
In the early 18th century an aristocrat named John Churchill, who had won a number of battles in Queen Anne’s name, was rewarded with the promise of a grand new house to be named after one of John Churchill’s conquests – the Battle of Blenhiem, fought against the French and Bavarian armies.
The English architect Sir John Vanbrugh was chosen and and building started in 1704. Blenheim Palace took nearly 20 years to build and was finally completed in 1722 and has been described as a masterpiece of Vanbrugh’s work. Set in a magnificent 2,000-acre park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, this magnificent Baroque palace covers 7 acres and is England’s largest stately home.
By the time the 19th century came along Blenheim Castle was on its way to becoming a crumbling ruin. It was saved by a marriage between a rich American heiress named Jennie Jerome who married Lord Randolph Churchill and became Winston Churchill’s mother.
Winston Churchill and Blenheim Castle
The most famous person connected with Blenheim Palace is Sir Winston Churchill. He was born there on 30th November, 1874. He married Clementine Hozier in 1908, having proposed to her in the gardens at Blenheim Palace. It was a happy marriage which produced five children.
Churchill’s love of Blenheim remained to his dying day. When he passed away in 1965, he chose to be buried beside his parents Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill, in the nearby churchyard at Bladon. And when Clementine died in 1977 her remains were laid to rest beside those of her husband.
Family Activities at Blenhiem Palace
There’s something for everyone at Blenheim. Although the interior is fabulous, kids will start fidgeting after a while and this is the time to get outside and explore what’s on offer outside. The beautiful formal gardens are only part of the acres of parkland that surround the palace.
Take the miniature Winston Churchill locomotive train which takes you from the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens. Here is where you can get lost (or not) in the Marlborough Maze, the world’s second largest hedge maze. All ages can try out giant chess and draughts and there is also a miniature putting green and an Adventure Play Area. You can visit the Butterfly House where you can see live tropical butterflies in free-flight, and gardeners can discover a century of garden tools and machinery in the ‘Blenheim Bygones Exhibition’. There are also a number of themed trails which all the family can partake in.
A new state-of-the-art tour called ‘The Untold Story’ is now open in addition to the normal Palace tour.
How to get to Blenheim Palace
By road 8 miles north of Oxford on the A44 ( leave motorway M40 junction 9)
Rail: Frequent services from Paddington to Oxford
Coach: Frequent services from London Victoria to Oxford
Bus: No. S3 from Oxford bus station every 30 minutes