As you sweep through the grand ‘Arch of Triumph” at the end of Park Street in the charming Georgian market town of Woodstock, you realise Blenheim Palace is no ordinary palace and these are no ordinary palace grounds.
The palace has been called England’s Versailles and it’s not difficult to see why. It was originally built as a gift to John Churchill from Queen Anne in thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.
It was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and it took 17 years to complete. He wanted it to have maximum impact and be best viewed from a distance.
The palace itself is a perfect example of Baroque architecture with its ornate decorations. It’s now home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is, perhaps, more widely known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill in 1874. The sprawling parklands were designed by the legendary landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and include all the accouterments an English country palace should possess – sweeping lawns, a large lake, formal gardens, a walled garden, a giant hedge maze consisting of 3,000 yew hedges, the butterfly house and a lavender garden.
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Sitting atop a hill facing the palace is The Column of Victory which is crowed by the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Surrounding it are the Grand Cascades which offer some of England’s most sensational views.
It is an incredible landscape. The Italian Garden just in front of the palace features immaculate hedges and a stunning central fountain while the Rose Garden features a series of perfectly symmetrical beds of hundreds of different varieties.
It is the only house in England to have the title of a Palace and it has 187 grand rooms, although they aren’t all open. There is fine furniture, The Marlborough Tapestries, depicting John Churchill’s battles and endless oil portraits.
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The Long Library was designed by Christopher Wren as a picture gallery but now houses 10,000 books. The Gilded State rooms certainly rival those of Buckingham Palace. The entrance through the Great Hall is flanked by tiers of marble pillars.
Through the archways, you’ll discover some incredible collections of China and even miniature toy soldiers. One room features a tapestry and oil paintings depicting the Duke of Marlborough’s victories.
The Churchill Exhibition features the room in which he was born, several of his paintings and artifacts such as uniforms, photographs, and excerpts from his most famous speeches.
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