Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace in England

Capability Brown and much, much more

Blenheim Palace You never forget your first visit to Blenheim Palace in England, UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Designed by Jon Vanbrugh in the early 18th century, the grandiose mansion set in rolling Oxfordshire parkland makes a dramatic statement from any angle.

And this year, visitors are being encouraged to look at the parkland of Blenheim Palace from 12 very specific angles, all marked with information panels as part of the new ‘Capability’ Brown discovery trail. Brown spent 11 years working at Blenheim Palace and this year it is one of the showpiece estates across England celebrating the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Blenheim Palace Blenheim Palace in England was built for military commander John Churchill by his sovereign Queen Anne, a thank-you for saving Europe from the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Even Churchill didn’t get that kind of thank-you.

I can still clearly remember the impact of my first visit in the early ‘60s with my parents. To a young schoolgirl like me, Sir Winston Churchill was a rotund and revered gentleman who had won World War II for Britain. So to come here and see the room where he had been born in 1874 and a lock of his baby curls was something that sparked in me a lifelong love of history. Suddenly the man seen only in B&W became a colourful human being.

Blenheim Palace So it is with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Follow the information panels around Blenheim Palace and you soon start to understand the man and his ideas on landscape design. As I stand at the viewpoint for the Great Lake Vista, for instance, and study the information panel, I appreciate how Brown created curiosity by having the lake meander away out of sight and also the illusion of never-ending water. I look across the lake with his eyes and admire the woodland of nearly 1000 ancient oaks, some of them up to 900 years old.

There are so many things to enjoy at Blenheim Palace that it’s almost impossible to do everything in a single day. Buy a single day ticket to the Park, Palace and Gardens however (Adult: £23.90, Concession £19.90 Mon to Fri only), and you can convert it to an annual pass for unlimited free entry for 12 months. You can also buy a Park & Gardens ticket only ((£14.90/£10.90 concessions). Blenheim Palace is open daily all year from February 13th to December 31st, except for Christmas Day, and there’s something to enjoy in every season.

Blenheim Palace If this is your first visit, my Must-See sights would be the magnificent State Rooms (free tours depart regularly) with their tapestries, sumptuous furnishings, and colourful family stories; the exhibition of Churchill memorabilia including childhood letters written from boarding school; and the ornate formal gardens close to the Palace. If time permits, walk along the Great Lake past the Temple of Diana, where Winston proposed to his beloved Clementine, and up to the Grand Cascade or follow the avenue to the Column of Victory for a panoramic view back to the Palace.

The free general information leaflet details four colour-coded walks from 1 to 4.6 miles in length. A separate leaflet marks the 12 Capability Brown viewpoints including the panorama of Palace, bridge and lake dubbed ‘The Finest View in England’, whilst another self-guided trail reveals Churchill stories around the Park and Formal Gardens.

Blenheim Palace For those with limited mobility – or just tired legs – a 20-minute buggy tour will show you the highlights of the park (small charge). Wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be hired free of charge at the Flagstaff Visitor Information Point with a refundable deposit (best to phone ahead, especially in peak season). Just allow a little extra time for your visit. Even top 18th century architects didn’t have the foresight to build for today’s wheelchair users, so be prepared to sometimes take a longer way round.

The Blenheim Palace website is packed with inspiration and information. Among new experiences on offer for 2016 are the 30-minute Private Apartment Tours which now include the Master Bedroom and the Duke’s Dressing Room (£6 per adult; £5 concessions, Feb to Sep), and the 40-minutes ‘Upstairs’ and ‘Downstairs’ Tours (£6/£5, Feb to Sep). Go Upstairs to see where illustrious guests have stayed and Downstairs to visit areas used by household staff both past and present.

And of course no country house visit would be complete without appropriate refreshments. Blenheim Palace offers a variety of eating options, but I can personally vouch for the tiny sandwiches and savoury tarts, the miniature cakes and scrumptious scones included on the Traditional Afternoon Tea served in the new Orangery restaurant. After all, we all know there are no calories in cake eaten at heritage properties!!

See also

New permanent exhibitions open at Blenheim Palace

219 people found this helpful
18312

Share Article:

Gillian Thornton

Travel writer

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Mark Nicholls visits Austria’s snowiest ski resort and stumbles across a chapter of pop history….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.