Blenheim Palace

1128 Reviews

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2016

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This exhibition is in the first floor rooms of the Palace and covers 300 years of the Palace from its building to its role in the Second World War. There is no access for people in a wheelchair or using mobility scooters although there is a visual presentation available.

The experience is described as ‘ a tour covering 11 rooms, with specially-constructed sets and using multiple videos, audio, Pepper’s Ghosts, special effects and, in some rooms, touch-screens. Grace Ridley, ladies’ maid to the first Duchess of Marlborough, transcends time to lead visitors from 1705 to the present, introducing them to Dukes, Duchesses and servants in bedrooms, corridors, boudoirs, a theatre, a laboratory and Blenheim’s sumptuous Great Hall.’

Elsewhere it is described as ‘Told by a projected apparition of the first Duchess’ lady’s maid, Grace Ridley, the exhibit addresses the tourists by including them in intimate, behind-the-scenes views of 300 years of family stories. The ghostly female narrator stands in for the tourist, a feminized outsider fascinated by the gossipy version of family history.’

It sounded interesting and I thought it would let me see some of the first floor rooms which had previously not been open to the public. It was a mistaken as it is a series of not very convincing tableaux with a talking head interspersed by rooms with information panels and touch screens. The tour takes 40 minutes and once started there is no going back.

There is no daylight and many of the rooms are quite dark and the strong smell of artificial perfume increasing the claustrophobic atmosphere. You are expected to go at the speed of the recorded commentary with the doors opening into the next room at the end of it. I found the commentaries too long and many of them were boring. I quickly lost interest. A group of Japanese twigged that it was possible to go through the doors without waiting or them to open and I quickly followed them. This is not one of Blenheim Palace’s better ideas. It may work for some, but it didn’t for me. I have seen better done elsewhere.

All the information about Blenheim Palace and my pictures can be found “here.”:


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