Blenheim Palace, this monumental country house is the only non-royal and non-episcopal country house that is allowed to be named palace. And monumental it is! It is already a long drive from the entrance to the park to the palace itself.
Situated in Woodstock near Oxford Blenheim Palace is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and was built between 1705 to around 1722. The palace was a gift from Queen Anne and a thankful nation to the first Duke of Marlborough John Churchill after winning the battle of Blenheim in 1704 and other important victories.
Churchill commissioned Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor with building the palace. Over the next years, Vanbrugh fight with the Duchess who wanted a comfortable home instead of the monument he had in mind until Vanbrugh was banned from the site and the palace was finished by Hawksmoor.
Vanbrugh planned Blenheim in perspective – that is to be best viewed from a distance. As the site covers some seven acres (28,000 m²) this is also a necessity. Close to, and square on, the facades can appear daunting, or weighed down by too much stone and ornamentation. (Blenheim Palace)
But these weren´t the only fights the Marlboroughs had. They had a fallout with the Queen, left the country in 1712, only returned after her death in 1714 and came back in favour in court. The first Duke died in 1722 and his widow made the finishing of the palace her passion project.
Blenheim Palace stands in a beautiful romantic park planned by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The gardens were closed on that day because of all the snow, but at least I had a lovely walk along the grande lake and the bridge.
By marrying an American heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt, in 1896 Charles the 9th Duke saved the family and the palace from ruin. The exhaustive restoration started while the couple was on their honeymoon. While the palace became a place of wonder and prestige again, the marriage without love ended in a divorce in 1921, Consuelo had already left Charles in 1906, quite the scandal!
Winston Churchill, a direct descendant of the first Duke was born in Blenheim and spent a lot of time there with his beloved grandmother. Some of the staterooms or rooms next to them show an exhibition about his time in Blenheim and his life in general.
A library that was meant to take a stroll in it!
Blenheim Palace was named UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. It is possible to visit this stunning place the whole year. And if might look kind of familiar you´ve might have seen it in a movie or tv show, like “Hamlet”, “Spectre”, “Cinderella” or “The Royals”.
PS: if you donate the entry fee you´ll receive a pass for the whole year and one never knows if one might come back!